Published April 10, 2011
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Rodney Stuckey scored 24 points, fellow reserve Charlie Villanueva added 20 and the Detroit Pistons recovered from a terrible start to beat the reeling Charlotte Bobcats 112-101 on Sunday night and snap an 11-game road losing streak.
Chris Wilcox chipped in with 14 points for the Pistons, who shot 56 percent from the field in their third straight win and second in three days since California investor Tom Gores reached a deal to buy the team.
Hours after coach John Kuester said he hopes to return for the last year of his contract, the Pistons overcame a 15-point, first-quarter deficit for their first road victory since Feb. 9 at Cleveland.
Gerald Henderson scored 21 points, Boris Diaw added 16 of his 20 points in the first quarter and Kwame Brown had 19 points and seven rebounds for the Bobcats, who have dropped six straight.
Charlotte remained without top scorer Stephen Jackson (hamstring), sixth man Tyrus Thomas (knee) and backup point guard Shaun Livingston. With only nine healthy players for a fifth straight game, the Bobcats shot 54 percent but were done in by poor defense to continue a late-season slide that has them securing better odds in next month's draft lottery.
The Pistons earned their 29th win — two more than last season — as a miserable year ends with some optimism and plenty of questions.
Entering the night with a .342 winning percentage at the end of a second season marred by turmoil, Kuester was asked if he deserves to return for the third and final year of his contract.
"You're in a business where you're in it to win. If you're not continually winning, I understand," Kuester said. "But do I feel comfortable and confident in doing the job? Absolutely."
Detroit, which played a third straight game without Will Bynum and Ben Wallace because of sore knees, also didn't have DaJuan Summers (illness). But its bench was far superior to Charlotte.
Stuckey shot 8 of 18 and added 11 assists. Villanueva hit 8 of 15 shots and grabbed six rebounds. Jason Maxiell added 10 points and seven rebounds, and Detroit's five reserves who played outscored the starters 68-44.
The Bobcats looked nothing like the NBA's second-lowest scoring team early on. With Detroit providing little resistance and Diaw shooting 6 of 7, the Bobcats tied a franchise record with 17 field goals, shot 77 percent from the field and took a 40-25 lead in a first quarter that also included D.J. Augustin's team-record nine assists.
Trouble was, the Bobcats managed 38 points over the next two quarters. Detroit quickly became the aggressor on offense, with Stuckey continually beating Charlotte's guards off the dribble and the Pistons getting easy buckets and second-chance points inside in building as much as an eight-point, third-quarter lead.
Austin Daye's 3-pointer with 5:59 left put Detroit ahead 101-87. The Bobcats, who were outrebounded 39-29, never made a serious charge.
Augustin had 14 points and 14 assists for Charlotte, which split the season series with Detroit.
Notes: Bobcats coach Paul Silas expects to be stuck with nine players for the final two games of the season. "I can't really foresee anybody coming back at this time," he said at shootaround. ... Silas would like the Bobcats to re-sign Brown, set to become an unrestricted free agent. "It wouldn't surprise me if other teams are looking at him, also, so that's not for me to decide," Silas said. "But for me, personally, I'd like to have him back." ... Kuester believes Pistons rookie F Greg Monroe "has improved as much as anybody in the league" this season.