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Pistons vs. Kemba preview: The Charlotte Hornets are a one-man wrecking crew

As goes Kemba Walker, so goes the Charlotte Hornets

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Charlotte Hornets Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets are a confounding team. Beat the Pistons, lose to the Cavs. Beat the Beat the Celtics, Pacers, and Bucks while losing to the Hawks, Jazz and Pelicans in the same stretch. Just goes to show you that a superstar can only take you so far. Something Pistons fans might be getting familiar with. But as with Blake Griffin, when Kemba Walker is on the top of his game he is unstoppable and sometimes that makes his team unbeatable.

Game Vitals

When: 7 p.m. EST
Where: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass


This will be the third meeting between these two teams and the Hornets are 2-0 with the most recent victory an absolutely soul-crushing 108-107 loss where Walker stole the show with some serious fourth quarter heroics.

Walker had almost as many points (12) as the Pistons did in the final frame (14). The Pistons were up by 10 with 4:39 to play when Kemba pulled a Kemba and put the team on his back. Walker scored 7 consecutive points to make it a one-possession game, hit a go-ahead basket, and a jumper for good measure before the Pistons managed any additional points. He also assisted on Jeremy Lamb’s insane go-ahead jumper at the buzzer.


That coincided with one of Reggie Jackson’s most terrible games in what has amounted to a mostly terrible season. But the less said about that the better. Jackson is coming off a strong showing against the Timberwolves, and hopefully he can carry that over and if not play Walker to a draw at least not look like a member of the Washington Generals to Kemba’s Globetrotter-like flair.

Having Reggie Bullock back should also do wonders in helping the Pistons avoid another disastrous quarter. With Bullock out of action in the previous meeting, Bruce Brown played 30 minutes. He didn’t play terribly, but 8 points on five shots with just one 3-point attempt is not really what the Pistons need out of that wing position.

Another player who might be able to aid Detroit’s quest to not lose for the third straight time is Jon Leuer. The Hornets play smaller, athletic centers in Cody Zeller, Willy Hernangomez and Frank Kaminsky, and that’s not really conducive to the current state of Zaza Pachulia. Leuer has played pretty well since getting healthy and getting his first shot in the rotation. Maybe today even he’ll hit a 3-pointer.

Really, though, let’s not kid ourselves. This game comes down to Blake Griffin. If he can do his thing while limiting his turnovers then the Pistons can steal a win in Charlotte. If he commits 8 turnovers and Tony Parker makes Jose Calderon look 47 and not 37 then it’s going to be a long evening.

Projected Lineups

Detroit (15-14)

Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Reggie Bullock, Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond

Charlotte (15-15)

Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller

Question of the Game

Kemba Walker is a pending free agent and will get an insane contract. Blake Griffin is locked in for several years on an already insane contract. Last year, the Pistons tried to trade for both players. Would you rather have made the same deal for Blake or traded for Kemba Walker and (the already insane contract of) Nicolas Batum, knowing that Walker could bolt at the end of the season?