CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Larry Hughes scored 18 points, D.J. Augustin hit the go-ahead jumper with just over a minute left, and the Charlotte Bobcats used their depth to hold off the Detroit Pistons 99-95 on Saturday night.
Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson added 14 points apiece and Augustin had 13 for the Bobcats, who improved to 31-9 at home and kept their slim hopes alive for overtaking Miami for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and avoiding a first-round playoff matchup with Orlando.
Ben Gordon scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half, and Jason Maxiell added 14 points for the Pistons, who missed four straight shots with a chance to take the lead in the final minute as their three-game winning streak was snapped.
Playing without ill point guard Raymond Felton, the Bobcats struggled to put away the Pistons, who had knocked off playoff teams Atlanta and Miami in the past week following their 11-game losing streak.
The lead changed hands seven times in the final 5 minutes, after Detroit rallied from an 11-point third quarter deficit.
Augustin, who started in Felton's spot, hit a fadeaway with 1:11 left put Charlotte ahead 96-95 before the Pistons got four chances after three offensive rebounds.
But Gordon missed twice in the sequence, including a mid-range jumper from the right of the lane with 17 seconds left. After Wallace hit 1 of 2 free throws, Will Bynum missed a contested runner in the lane before Hughes hit two free throws with 5 seconds left.
It was Hughes' best game with Charlotte after being signed on March 13. Entering having made just 13 of his last 54 shots, Hughes shot 6 of 10 from the field and hit 4 of 5 3-pointers for Charlotte, which shot 54 percent to offset 15 turnovers.
Bynum and Charlie Villanueva added 12 points apiece for the short-handed Pistons, who were again without Richard Hamilton (ankle) and Rodney Stuckey (rib).
The Bobcats, who clinched their first playoff berth on Wednesday, also came in with injury worries, and there was confusion in the locker room about an hour before tipoff as they scrambled to send in their inactive player list.
It appeared at first that the Bobcats were going to rest Wallace, who has been playing with a sore left shoulder. But assistant coaches Jeff Capel and Dave Hanners then came to Wallace's locker again a few minutes later to tell him he was playing.
That came after Felton was scratched with flulike symptoms, and it was determined forward Tyrus Thomas would miss his third straight game after his dislocated right thumb proved too painful in warmups.
Jackson played after sitting out Friday's game with a sore right hamstring, saying before the game that he felt "a lot better." But he shot just 4 of 11 in 28 minutes, giving more time to Hughes.
With owner Michael Jordan sitting courtside again, the Bobcats took a 54-43 lead early in the third quarter by going inside before turnovers allowed Detroit back in it.
The Pistons slowly cut into the lead before taking their first lead since the first quarter on Austin Daye's 3-pointer with 5:16 left.
NOTES: Felton appeared to be uncomfortable sitting in front of his locker before the game. ... Pistons coach John Kuester didn't know about 90 minutes before tipoff if veteran C Ben Wallace would play. Why? "He's 35 years old," Kuester said, smiling. Wallace fought through the general soreness to grab 10 rebounds. ... Bobcats players wore black T-shirts in warmups that read "Clinched" in honor of the franchise's first playoff berth.