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The Charlotte Hornets have often appeared as if they're an up-and-coming team, ready to make waves on a consistent basis.
The Hornets will once again try to make good on their promise when they play host to the suddenly-confident Detroit Pistons on Wednesday at Charlotte, N.C.
Not only did the Pistons knock off the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night, the victory came on the road. Detroit has won back-to-back games for the first time this season.
"I think the confidence level of young players is something that you really can't put your finger on," Pistons coach Dwane Casey said.
It helped that Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes and Trey Lyles were fresh off the COVID list and in the starting lineup for the Pistons. The stunning success of the 115-106 victory against the Bucks also came courtesy of a career-best 34 points for Saddiq Bey.
The Pistons also received a boost from Josh Jackson, who scored 24 points off the bench.
"Josh, coming off the bench and scoring like he did, it's just a byproduct of just believing that they can compete in this league," Casey said. "Everyone kind of seamlessly went into their roles."
The Pistons haven't had much for which to brag this season, but having the roster come back together has given them a boost.
"We got back to playing that style of basketball," Jackson said. "Everybody moved the basketball."
Said Cunningham: "It's just us trying to play together, us trying to play for each other."
Roles could be coming back into place for the Hornets if they can play consecutive games with mostly their full roster. It largely has been a disruptive month because of absences related to COVID-19, with only forward PJ Washington missing so far in games this week.
The Hornets have been stung by ragged beginnings of the past two games. They were socked early by the Phoenix Suns and really didn't recover in a 133-99 home loss Sunday. The next night, they overcame a deficit against the Washington Wizards before floundering in the fourth quarter in a 124-121 setback.
"We certainly have to be better," the Hornets' Gordon Hayward said. "It's the NBA so we get another chance relatively quickly. We have to try to figure this out."
While the Hornets won their first two games against the Wizards this season, they were unable to have the same success and slipped back to a .500 record at 19-19.
"We've got to find that execution, especially in the fourth quarter when it's winning time," Charlotte coach James Borrego said. "This was a missed opportunity, but we move on. I expect our guys to respond."
The visit from the Pistons begins a three-game homestand for Charlotte, which is 2-3 in its last five home games going back to the start of December. They played nine road games last month.
"We've got to go home, get right and try to build some momentum back," Borrego said.
Before beating Milwaukee, the Pistons had dropped 10 consecutive road games.
This is the first of three scheduled meetings between the Pistons and Hornets, with two more games set for next month.
--Field Level Media