The Hornets hadn’t beaten the Pistons since the spring of ’04 (an 82-81 squeaker in New Orleans), and you do not want to enter the Palace at Auburn Hills missing your leading scorer (David West) and your leading rebounder (Tyson Chandler).
But apparently being missing two starters concentrates the mind wonderfully. Seemingly Inexplicably, Chandler’s spot was filled by rookie Hilton Armstrong, who had played a total of four minutes so far. And Armstrong, by gum, won this one; not only did he lead the team with nine rebounds, he sank the first of two free throws in the waning seconds, his 17th point of the night, and when he missed the second, he jumped up and tipped the ball out to Chris Paul, and the Hornets escaped with a 100-99 win.
Let us also say kind things about Brandon Bass, who in his second start in West’s power-forward slot this season, scored 12 points, snagged seven boards, and blocked a shot. The Bees’ bench did their share, picking up 33 points. Peja? Not a record-breaker tonight, but 14 points. And Chris Paul, who had an off-night last night, dropped in 20 points and provided 13 assists.
The deadly Detroit guards, Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton, lived up to their reputations, scoring 52 between them, but this time it wasn’t quite enough.
This brief road trip concludes Saturday at Minnesota; the Hornets return to the Ford Center Tuesday to host the Miami Heat.