Court Vision: Hornets bounce back by beating Pistons

Gerald Henderson scored 14 points as the Hornets won for just the third times in 10 games.

Charlotte gets the 102-78 must-win over Detroit on Wednesday to stay alive for the playoffs.

1. Charlotte Stays Alive

With nine games remaining on the schedule entering Wednesday’s contest, it’s a cliché to say that every game is a must-win. But in reality, they darn near are, especially for Charlotte, which started the night 11th in the Eastern Division playoff race.

The Hornets (32-42) made sure from the get-go against Detroit that they were going to grab the lead and hold on the rest of the way instead of getting down early and having to claw their way back into the game or lead.

"It was a good bounce-back win," Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. "We started well and sustained our play well."

Because of the win, the Hornets jumped Indiana, which hosts Charlotte Friday night, and now sit in 10th place, a game and a half behind eighth-seed Boston.

"We still have an opportunity to get there," Hornets point guard Kemba Walker said. "It’s not over until it’s over."

Despite the urgency of it all, there haven’t been any pep talks by the coaches or rah-rah speeches by the players before games.

"Guys know what need to be done," Marvin Williams said. "There’s nothing that really needs to be said."

2. Clifford Opens Up About Lance

For the second straight game, Hornets guard Lance Stephenson didn’t play a single minute. When asked in the postgame interview, Clifford went into great detail on why the big free agent signing last summer can’t get off the bench lately.

"I can’t find a group where we play well when he’s out there," Clifford said. "I’ve been experimenting with all the things and I can’t find it. …

"I’m just trying to win. Part of my responsibility is to the team. I’m playing the lineups now that I think will work the best. This is like playoff basketball. When you get to that time of year, two minutes here and two minutes there could be your season."

Clifford went on to get rid of a great misconception in that it was general manager Rich Cho that wanted to sign Stephenson. In fact, Clifford said it was all his doing.

"Lance is here because of me," Clifford said. "I’m the one that wanted him."

3. Injury Updates

It’s no secret that the Hornets have battled injuries since the beginning of training camp in early October. And because of that, there has been a weekly update on the recovery of the various ailments.

This time, it the updates deal with three players: Al Jefferson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller.

Jefferson played quality minutes, but not before having his right swollen and sore knee drained before the game. This may be a required practice until the end of the season.

"I think that with the knee, after talking with the doctors, it’s something where he just needs rest," Clifford said. "Unfortunately, we don’t have time to rest it. I don’t think they see it as anything (further). He needs time off in the summer and he’ll have to rest it. I don’t think they see it being a long-term issue."

As far as Kidd-Gilchrist is concerned, it’s likely going to be next week at the earliest before he returns, and that’s if he returns this season at all with an ankle sprain.

"The swelling has gone down a lot," Clifford said. "I think (the doctors) are hoping that by next week he’ll feel better."

Zeller continues to battle extreme soreness in his sprained shoulder, which has sidelined him for 11 games. Every time the team thinks he’s ready to return, he’s unable to. With Zeller, he may return Friday or not until next season. It’s a game-by-game situation.

24 — The number of points the Hornets were better than Detroit when Marvin Williams was on the floor.

0 — The number of lead changes in the game. Charlotte went wire-to-wire.

Follow Brett Jensen on Twitter @Brett_Jensen