Three minutes into the game, Monty Williams thought his New Orleans Hornets were in major trouble.
Playing their second road game in two nights, the Hornets looked completely lost against the Pistons. They turned the ball over twice in their first three possessions and quickly trailed 8-0.
Williams called a quick timeout, but chose not to berate his players.
"There are a lot of times that I'm going to jump on the guys when they play like that, but I didn't think this was the time for yelling and screaming," Williams said. "I just wanted to settle everyone down and get us playing basketball."
The strategy worked. New Orleans scored the next eight points and ended up cruising to a 105-86 victory Monday night.
"I was concerned, because after we lost last night, we had really focused on being the aggressors tonight," said Robin Lopez, who finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds. "The important thing was that we bounced right back and took control of the game. Scoring the next eight points showed that we weren't going to play another game like we did last night in Toronto."
The Hornets, coming off a 102-89 loss at Toronto on Sunday for their fifth defeat in seven games, were in control for the final 40 minutes against Detroit.
Wearing their purple, green and gold Mardi Gras jerseys, New Orleans finished with 10 blocks to just three for the Pistons and dominated the paint on both ends of the floor. The New Orleans starting frontcourt — Lopez, Anthony Davis and Al-Farouq Aminu — combined for 36 points, 32 rebounds and eight blocks.
"Robin, A.D. and Al-Farouq are all really long, so they can give teams a lot of trouble inside," Williams said. "Robin was matched up against Greg Monroe, who is a stud, but he was able to do a great job against him and still help A.D. out against Jason Maxiell. Al-Farouq had a couple blocks on the fast break where he looked a lot like LeBron."
Ryan Anderson did the rest of the damage for New Orleans, coming off the bench with 31 points. Anderson hit five 3-pointers, but Williams was more impressed by his ability to do other things.
"Ryan's not just a shooter, despite what people think," he said. "There was a play tonight where he pump-faked the defender and then went to the rim and dunked. I don't think anyone in the building expected him to dunk that one."
In their last five games, the Pistons had beaten the Spurs and Bucks and lost close games to the Lakers and the Nets, but they were no match for the 18-34 Hornets on Monday. Playing without rookie center Andre Drummond (back), the Pistons had no answer for New Orleans inside.
"Other than that initial spurt — 8-0 — our defense was horrible," Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. "You have to give them most of the credit for that. They played much harder than us, much tougher, more physical, more intense. Outside of a few select segments, they really, really outworked us. It's very, very disappointing."
Reserve Rodney Stuckey led Detroit with 19, but most came after the game had been decided, while Greg Monroe added 17 points and 11 rebounds.
"They wanted to win more than we did," Monroe said. "We started out great, but after that timeout, they took control. I don't think it was our mistakes, but good reads on their part. They just outplayed us. It was tough."
The Hornets were already ahead by the end of the first quarter, thanks to 13 points from Lopez, and were able to pull out to a double-digit lead when the Pistons missed 10 straight shots in the second period. Anderson had 15 off the bench, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the second that gave the Hornets a 55-41 halftime lead.
New Orleans led by as many as 20 points in the third quarter, as Detroit struggled to even get decent shots in its half-court offense. The Hornets only shot 35 percent in the period, but that was enough to move the margin to 16 going into the fourth. Frank went outside his rotation in the fourth, playing little-used Kim English and Jonas Jerebko in an effort to kick-start a comeback, but the Hornets were never threatened.
The Hornets led comfortably enough that they were able to take an intentional shot-clock violation in the final seconds of the game.
"We wanted to finish this road trip well, and I think we showed some growth in our team," Aminu said. "There are things you have to do on the road that you don't normally have to do at home, and we did all those little things tonight."
NOTES: Frank picked up a technical foul for arguing a basket-interference in the first quarter. ... Despite decent weather, the game drew one of the smallest crowds in Palace history. The attendance was announced at 10,177, and several upper-deck sections were entirely empty as fans were encouraged to move to the lower bowl. ... Jesse Jackson sat courtside across from the Pistons bench. ... Eric Gordon sat out to rest his knee on the second night of New Orleans' back-to-back games.