February 09, 2015

If the Charlotte Hornets post their first six-game win streak in six seasons, it's a good chance it will be because of a big performance by Kemba Walker.

In a matchup of potential playoff teams, Walker seeks to score at least 30 points for the fifth straight game Friday night when the Hornets host the Detroit Pistons.

Charlotte (35-28) can win six in a row for the first time since March 5-14, 2010. Walker is averaging 31.6 points during the win streak, including a mark of 33.0 in his run of 30-point efforts in which he's shooting 52.6 percent while making 17 of 34 3-pointers.

''He's a different shooter,'' coach Steve Clifford said. ''He's put so much work in and right now he's in such a rhythm.''

Walker has been the catalyst for a Charlotte club that has won 13 of 16 to move into contention for a Southeast Division crown, trailing Miami by 1 1/2 games. The Hornets, who made the postseason two years ago, have never won a division title.

''We're healthy, we want to win, we are motivated and we want to get to the playoffs,'' Walker said. ''I can't say much more.''

Walker had 35 points with seven assists and seven rebounds without a turnover in Wednesday's 122-113 home victory over New Orleans.

The Hornets are averaging 116.6 points on 47.5 percent shooting in this win streak. Charlotte's average speed on offense of 4.68 miles per hour, which includes all movements, is one of the league's best marks.

"Our offense right now is good, not only are we scoring, moving the ball but 21 assists and five turnovers (Wednesday), we're playing at a good pace," Clifford said.

Detroit (33-31) can move within 1 1/2 games of Charlotte in the tightly bunched Eastern Conference. The Pistons opened a four-game trip Wednesday with their sixth victory in eight games, 102-96 over Dallas.

Andre Drummond had 25 points and 17 rebounds for his league-best 54th double-double. Tobias Harris added 19 points for Detroit, which won its 33rd game - one more than all of last season.

''We've got a younger team,'' Drummond said. ''Stan (coach Stan Van Gundy) has done a good job of bringing in guys that can really spread the floor. We have a lot of shooters on the team. It makes teams really think about who you're going to match up with.''

These clubs are similar in that neither ranks high in field-goal percentage, with Charlotte shooting 43.4 percent and Detroit at 43.7. They both shoot plenty of 3-pointers, with the Hornets averaging 29.4 to lead all East clubs and the Pistons averaging 26.3.

It's no secret that Clifford adopted his approach after he was an assistant to Van Gundy in Orlando between 2007-12.

"Everybody talks about Mike D'Antoni, who is terrific," Clifford said. "Stan was the guy, we played four-out before anybody played four-out, we shot a ton of 3s."

The Pistons are hoping top scorer Reggie Jackson works his way out of some woes in which he is averaging 10.0 points on 25.6 percent shooting in his last three road games. He had a season-low four on 2-of-9 shooting in a 104-84 loss at Charlotte on Dec. 7.

The Hornets, who are seeking their second seven-game home win streak of the season, have taken six of the last eight meetings with Detroit.

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