Playoff-chasing Pistons win over Hornets

Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) reaches for an inbound pass in front of Charlotte Hornets center Cody Zeller (40) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, March 25, 2016, in Auburn Hills, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Andre Drummond had 18 points and 14 rebounds and the Detroit Pistons overwhelmed Charlotte with their highest-scoring first half of the season en route to a 112-105 win over the Hornets on Friday night.

Detroit led 72-56 after two quarters and won its fifth straight game, taking a two-game lead over Chicago for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Pistons also pulled within a percentage point of seventh-place Indiana.

Kemba Walker scored 25 of his 29 points in the first half for Charlotte.

Detroit’s lead reached 26 points in the fourth quarter before the Hornets went on a 25-4 run to cut the margin to five with less than a minute left, but the Pistons held on.

Marcus Morris scored 19 of his 20 points in the first half for Detroit, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 16 of his 21 in the second half. Reggie Jackson added 17 points for the Pistons.

Charlotte won the first two meetings with the Pistons this season by 24 and 15 points, but this matchup was a blowout in the opposite direction for most of the night. An alley-oop to Drummond gave Detroit an early 12-3 lead, and it was 34-18 after a 3-pointer by Anthony Tolliver.

The Pistons led by as many as 22 points in the second quarter, and they still had a comfortable advantage even after Walker threw in a shot from midcourt at the halftime buzzer.

Detroit (39-34) now has its most wins since finishing 39-43 in the 2008-09 season, which was also the last time the Pistons made the playoffs. They reached 50 wins in seven straight seasons before that.

TIP-INS

Hornets: Walker equaled his own team mark for most points in a half this season. He scored 25 in the second half on Dec. 28 against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Pistons: Detroit’s highest-scoring first half previously was 67 points against Sacramento on March 18. The Pistons have scored 73 points in the second half twice this season. … The NBA announced that Drummond received the February NBA Cares Community Assist Award for his efforts to empower youth with special needs and give back to the Detroit community. The award is presented by Kaiser Permanente.

UP NEXT

Hornets: At Milwaukee on Saturday night.

Pistons: Host Atlanta on Saturday night.

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