Hornets-Pistons Preview

Mo Williams has helped revitalize the Charlotte Hornets over the last two weeks, and his track record against Detroit points to them extending that success.

Looking to tie a season-best five-game win streak Sunday night, Williams and the resurgent Hornets visit a Pistons team that’s heading in the opposite direction.

Acquired on Feb. 10 to fill the point guard void created when Kemba Walker underwent left knee surgery, Williams has scored 21.8 points per game in eight contests with Charlotte (27-33) after averaging 12.2 over 41 games with Minnesota.

The Hornets dropped their first two with him in the lineup, but are 5-1 since.

Williams posted double-digit assists in the first three games of the win streak before finishing with 23 points and seven assists in a 103-94 victory over Toronto on Friday.

His play has been so stellar that Charlotte coach Steve Clifford plans to stick with him even after Walker returns, which could be as soon as Wednesday.

"Mo is going to play a lot and I’m going to play (him and Walker) together," Clifford said. "You always try to find a way to get your best players on the floor … We are trying to make this playoff run and it’s all about doing whatever it takes to win.

Walker leads Charlotte with 18.8 points and 5.2 assists per game, but Williams, who has started 505 times over 758 career games, simply wants to win.

"Whatever position (Clifford) puts me in I’m pretty sure it is a position to be successful and do whatever is needed to help this team win."

While Williams has played with five teams in his career, he’s won 13 of the last 14 times he’s faced the Pistons, including the previous five.

By matching their season-high win streak from Jan. 3-10, the Hornets will overtake Indiana and Miami by a half-game in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Hornets currently sit percentage points behind the Heat and Pacers for the final two spots.

Charlotte faces each team one more time before the regular season ends.

Detroit (23-38) has hit a rough patch with five consecutive losses since winning six of nine from Jan. 31-Feb. 22. The Pistons have shot 40.8 percent overall and 26.6 from behind the arc during the skid – both ranking near the bottom of the NBA in that span.

They managed to shoot just 36.3 percent in Friday’s 103-93 loss at Houston.

"It’s another good defensive effort by us. But our offense is just a major struggle right now," coach Stan Van Gundy told the team’s official website. "I thought we got better shots tonight – we just couldn’t make anything."

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who had averaged 19.6 points over a five-game stretch from Feb. 11-27, has managed only 6.3 per game in the three since. After going 0 for 6 from behind the arc Friday, he echoed Van Gundy’s sentiments.

"Just not knocking down open shots," Caldwell-Pope said. "Just got to keep shooting. Eventually they’ll fall, but we’ve got to take it to the rack and get the easy one."

Detroit had no trouble scoring in a 106-78 victory over the Hornets on the day they obtained Williams, who did not play. Greg Monroe had 23 points and 12 rebounds, while Anthony Tolliver matched a season-high with 16 points for the Pistons.

Andre Drummond had only nine rebounds in that win, but hauled in 22 while scoring 16 points during Charlotte’s last visit to Detroit on Feb. 18. However, Al Jefferson answered with 32 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Hornets to a 108-96 win.