March 08, 2015

It's become pretty common for a point guard to be at the center of many Charlotte Hornets victories over the past few months, but usually his name is Kemba Walker.

Reserve Jeremy Lin has stepped up during Walker's shooting slump, a dry spell the Hornets hope won't continue as they look for their 18th win in 22 games Friday night with a season sweep of the streaking Detroit Pistons.

Charlotte (41-30) has shot up the Eastern Conference standings the last two months, going from a postseason hopeful to tied with Miami for fifth - a half game back of Atlanta and Boston for the third seed.

Only Golden State (19-3) and San Antonio (18-3) have been better than the Hornets (17-4) since Feb. 6.

Walker had been a huge part of that run, averaging 25.4 points and 6.3 assists while shooting 47.9 percent during the first 16 games of that stretch. However, those numbers dip to 14.4, 3.8 and 32.5 over the last five - leaving an opening for Linsanity version 2.0.

Lin has been on fire, averaging 22 points on 62.5 percent shooting the last three games. The last two have been the most eye-opening as he scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter of Monday's 91-88 win over the Spurs before dropping 21 in Tuesday's 105-100 victory at Brooklyn.

Lin made 19 of 30 shots between the two games, including 5 of 6 3-pointers. He brought the Hornets back from a 30-7 deficit against San Antonio, the largest comeback against the Spurs in the Tim Duncan era.

''We learned a lot about ourselves, and we just want to keep seeing what we can do,'' Lin said. ''We don't know what our ceiling is and we don't want to say what our ceiling is because we don't know.''

To earn home-court advantage in the East's first round, the Hornets will have to win on the road. Friday is the second contest on a four-game trip that's part of nine of 12 away from home to close the regular season. After opening 6-17 on the road, Charlotte has won eight of its last 10.

The Hornets have two home wins over the Pistons this season and have taken seven of the last nine overall. However, they got trounced 116-77 their last visit to Detroit in April.

Walker has made only 8 of 31 shots the last three meetings for an average of 12.3 points, while Lin has averaged 10.5 this season.

Detroit (38-34) has been up and down in February and March but matched its longest winning streak of the season with Wednesday's 118-102 victory over Orlando. The Pistons logged their fourth straight victory to move to 4-1 on a nine-game homestand.

They are hoping to hold onto one of the East's final two seeds while hosting current playoff teams Charlotte, Atlanta, Oklahoma City and Dallas to close the home-heavy stretch before opening a three-game trip at ninth-seeded Chicago.

The Pistons have won seven of their last eight at The Palace.

''You're not going to sneak in as a sub-.500 team like teams have been doing for years,'' coach Stan Van Gundy said. ''If we get in, we'll be getting in playing very good basketball, because there's no other way to do this.''

Andre Drummond led seven Pistons in double figures against the Magic with 30 points and 14 rebounds. Marcus Morris chipped in 15 points, making 2 of 4 3s. He is 18 of 25 from deep while averaging 15.9 points over the last seven games.

Fourth-leading scorer Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and little-used Reggie Bullock sat out due to an illness, and it is unclear if they will be available Friday.

You May Like