Pistons 92, Bobcats 91

Charlie Villanueva felt like the weight of the world was on the

Detroit Pistons as they flew into Charlotte, N.C., for Saturday

night’s game.

A 10-game losing streak will do that to an NBA team.

Villanueva made sure the Pistons could breathe a sigh of relief

Saturday night, scoring 14 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter –

including a go-ahead driving layup with 15 seconds left – to help

Detroit defeat the Charlotte Bobcats 92-91 to avoid matching its

longest losing streak in three years.

”It felt really good to get a win after that losing streak we

were on,” Villanueva said in a jovial Pistons locker room. ”We

kind of got that monkey off our back. You could see how excited

everyone was just to get that win.”

Villanueva hit three 3-pointers in the final period, Jason

Maxiell added 14 points and reserve Rodney Stuckey had 13 points

and eight assists for the Pistons.

Kemba Walker had 25 points and Bismack Biyombo had 12 points and

10 rebounds for the Bobcats, who had their two-game winning streak

snapped. Gerald Henderson, who came in averaging 22.7 points per

game over his past seven, finished with 15 points.

The NBA-worst Bobcats had the ball and a chance to win the game

with 14 seconds left but couldn’t convert.

The Bobcats led by three coming into fourth quarter, but every

time they tried to pull away it seemed Villanueva was there to

answer with a long 3-pointer.

The seven-year veteran finally put the Pistons in front at 85-84

on 3-pointer with just over two minutes to play and the teams

traded the lead after that.

With the Pistons trailing by one, Villanueva made a backdoor cut

and scored on a two-handed jam to give his team a 90-89 lead.

Walker answered with a pair of foul shots at the end other, but

Villanueva then made the play of the game. After missing a

3-pointer, Villanueva corralled the rebound and drove the lane to

give Detroit a 92-91 lead.

”I was just reading what the defense was giving me,”

Villanueva said. ”They were trying to take the 3-pointer away so I

was just driving the basketball. I saw the lane open.”

The Bobcats called a timeout but couldn’t get an open look off

an inbound play.

Walker frantically drove with 4 seconds left and put up an

off-balance shot that hit the rim. Josh McRoberts grabbed the loose

ball and tried to put in a reverse that didn’t drop.

”We grinded and gutted it out,” Pistons coach Lawrence Frank

said. ”When you’ve lost 10 games you need somebody to give you a

spark. And Charlie did that in the fourth quarter. It’s nice to get

off the schneid. Now we want to continue every night and finish off

the season in a professional, competitive way.”

Frank was pleased that the Pistons had 31 assists on 36 field

goals.

Detroit entered the game having lost its last 10 games by an

average margin of 17.2 points per game. But they jumped out to a

9-0 lead behind Brandon Knight, who returned after missing four

games with a sprained ankle.

However, they surrendered the momentum almost immediately as the

Bobcats answered with a 9-0 run of their own and went on to lead

most of the game.

But Charlotte had no answer for Villanueva down the stretch.

”He’s tough because he can really shoot the 3,” Henderson said

of Villanueva. ”It’s crazy to think you’ll lose track of him. But

when you’re coming back in transition, he just finds his way to the

3-point line.

”Even in the half court, he finds ways to score the ball at the

basket. You’re always taught to come back in the paint and branch

out. He knows that and he kind of moseys back to the line and they

find him. That’s unusual because big men usually migrate to the

paint.”

After scoring 117 points against Washington and 109 against

Toronto, the Bobcats only managed 92, one below their season

average.

NOTES: The Bobcats are expected to sign backup point guard

Jannero Pargo to another 10-day contract on Sunday. He had 16

points against the Pistons. ”He plays with bravado,” Bobcats

coach Mike Dunlap said. … The Bobcats were 23 of 25 from the foul

line. … Knight had five turnovers in his first game back from the

ankle injury. … Walker had four steals for the Bobcats.