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Nine in a row

Hornets jump ahead of Knicks with win over Pistons

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Posted: Thursday April 22, 1999 08:28 AM

 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- No Eddie Jones turned out to be no problem for the Charlotte Hornets, who kept their improbable playoff push on track Wednesday night.

Elden Campbell scored a season-high 32 points and the Hornets defeated Detroit 88-85 for their ninth consecutive victory. The streak has vaulted the Hornets from 5 1/2 games out of a playoff spot to a half-game lead for the eighth and final postseason berth in the Eastern Conference.

"Now we control our destiny in our hands," Campbell said. "We've put ourselves in position, but we have to take care of business. We've come too far and worked too hard to get to this point."

Campbell added 14 rebounds on a night the Hornets played without Jones, their leading scorer and top defender. Jones, who cut his right hand on a rim Monday in New Jersey and needed six stitches to close the wound, could miss as many as three games.

"If you want to win, you expect big performances. Somebody's got to step up, and it was Elden's night," Charlotte coach Paul Silas said after Campbell, operating down low against Eric Montross and Bison Dele, hit 13 of 19 field-goal attempts. "Elden's become a monster. He's on a roll right now."

David Wesley overcame early foul trouble and had 13 points and eight assists for the Hornets, who moved past Cleveland and idle New York into eighth place in the East.

Detroit coach Alvin Gentry answered very few questions in his postgame news conference, most of which he spent venting about the Pistons' fifth loss in six games. The slide has dropped Detroit into a tie with Philadelphia and Milwaukee for fifth place in the East.

"We've got a cushion and we're just living off that damn cushion," Gentry fumed. "We've got to start playing at some point. If we don't play, we're not going to make the playoffs."

 

Grant Hill had 28 points, nine rebounds and six assists for Detroit, which has failed to score more than 86 points in its last six games. The Pistons also got 22 points from Jerome Williams, matching the third-year pro's career high.

Detroit, starting a stretch in which it plays six of its last nine away from home, was outscored 50-37 in the second half and lost its fourth in a row on the road.

"We just had no defensive pressure," Hill said. "We've got to buckle down and lock in. When we've got a team down on the road, we've got to put them away, and we couldn't put them away. We couldn't stop Elden Campbell."

Campbell put the Hornets ahead to stay on a free throw that made it 82-81 with 3:36 left. After Jerry Stackhouse missed a jumper on the other end, Campbell answered with an 11-footer from the left wing to push Charlotte's lead to three.

Detroit was unable to pull even the rest of the way, but the Pistons had a chance to tie it after Bobby Phills' foul shot closed the scoring with 11 seconds left. Hill missed a 12-foot baseline jumper and Charlotte got the rebound, but Joe Dumars picked off a pass and put up a 40-footer that fell just short of the rim at the buzzer.

Wesley, who sat out the second quarter after picking up his third foul, came back strongly in the third, but not before the Pistons went up 60-48, matching their biggest lead of the game.

The Hornets held Detroit to just two field goals over the final six minutes of the quarter, opening the door for the run that gave Charlotte its first lead of the game. Wesley had six points, two assists and a steal in a 17-3 surge to put the Hornets up 65-63.

Neither team led by more than four points the rest of the way.

Notes: Hill had 11 points in the first quarter, which was seven more than he had in the entire game when the Hornets and Pistons met in Charlotte last Wednesday night. Hill played the first 10 minutes of that game before sitting out the rest of the night with the flu. ... Charlotte has won five in a row and seven of eight against the Pistons. ... It was the third meeting between the two teams in 10 days. ... Gentry is 0-7 against the Hornets.

 
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