National Basketball Association
Charlotte at Detroit
When: 7:30 PM ET, Thursday, February 23, 2017
Where: The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Michigan
The playoff race in the Eastern Conference is far from settled with less than two months remaining in the regular season, and both the Detroit Pistons and the Charlotte Hornets intend to be part of the top eight when the dust settles. The Pistons, who currently hold down the No. 8 spot in the East, will try to improve their standing when they host the slumping Hornets on Thursday.
There are seven team separated by six games sitting between the No. 6 and the No. 12 spot in the East as the stretch run begins following the week off after the All-Star break, and Detroit went into the break strong with six wins in its last nine games. "We’ve got 10 or 11 teams in the East that there’s not a whole lot separating them," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters. "On any given night, anybody can win and any of those teams can beat teams ahead of them and lose to teams behind them. That’s sort of where everybody is." Charlotte begins its final 26 games 2 1/2 games behind Detroit but stumbled into the break with losses in four straight and 11 of its last 12 games. "The goal before the season started, I told (the players), with a team like ours, you want to play meaningful games when you get to the last 15 or 20," Hornets coach Steve Clifford told reporters. "Our goal was to make the playoffs, which we can do, and be playing in a manner so we can be a factor, which we're not."TV:
7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Southeast (Charlotte), FSN DetroitABOUT THE HORNETS (24-32):
Charlotte point guard Kemba Walker was the only player on either the Hornets or the Pistons to make the All-Star team and delivered seven points and six assists in 20 minutes off the bench for the Eastern Conference on Sunday after finishing third in the 3-point contest the previous night. "(All-Star weekend) was unbelievable," Walker told reporters. "It was unbelievable, man. It’s a really surreal feeling. You got all the top players in the NBA. You got entertainers around. It’s everything. Everything’s here and to be a part of it, to be center stage, I would never think I would be a part of something like this. Man, it was really cool." Walker was in a terrible shooting slump over the first five games of February but began to pull out of the funk by going 18-of-33 from the floor in the final two games before the break.ABOUT THE PISTONS (27-30):
Detroit seems to be involved in half of the trade rumors floating around prior to Thursday's deadline, with even center Andre Drummond and point guard Reggie Jackson getting thrown around in possible deals. "(General manager) Jeff (Bower) talks to virtually every team in the league all the time," Van Gundy, who also serves as president of basketball operations, told reporters. "As I’ve said before, every name on our roster has come up. That’s his job. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing. There hasn’t been a serious discussion about Andre, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been discussions about Andre." Drummond averages 14.6 points and 13.8 rebounds and is fifth in the league with 37 double-doubles.BUZZER BEATERS
1. Charlotte Cs Miles Plumlee (calf) and Cody Zeller (quad) are both questionable for Thursday.
2. Pistons PF Jon Leuer averaged 17.5 points on 11-of-16 shooting in the two games prior to the break.
3. Detroit took two of the first three meetings this season, including a 115-114 home triumph on Jan. 5.PREDICTION:
Pistons 103, Hornets 99
Stats and Records