Pistons beat Bobcats 98-75 for 1st winning streak
By LARRY LAGE, AP
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The Detroit Pistons' rebuilding plan revolves around Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.
If the newcomers can play like they did Wednesday night against the Charlotte Bobcats, Detroit might not experience the demise many expect from its new-look roster.
Villanueva scored a season-high 30 points, outscored the opponents by himself in the third quarter and Gordon had 22 points, eight assists and no turnovers to lead Detroit to a 98-75 win over Charlotte.
Both players were regarded as offensive assets and defensive liabilities when they signed as free agents, but are starting to become complete players.
"They've taken the challenge of allowing me to coach them," Detroit coach John Kuester said. "They've bought into it."
Villanueva has averaged 19 points in the last six games after scoring a combined 15 in his first two for the Pistons, who signed him to a $35 million, five-year contract.
"Charlie started off slow," Kuester said. "I didn't even know what Charlie was all about because of the hamstring. Now, he's getting comfortable.
"He was impressive tonight."
Gordon was, too.
He had a season high in assists and didn't have a turnover for the second time this season. The former Chicago Bulls guard has scored at least 19 points in every game this season.
Gordon was wide open once in the third quarter, but chose to pass to Villanueva for an open shot.
"That's just playing the game the right way," said Gordon, who signed a $55 million, five-year contract. "Sometimes, you have to give up a good shot to get a great shot.
"Charlie had it going."
Gordon said he didn't know Villanueva outscored Charlotte 18-12 by himself in the third quarter.
"That's crazy," Gordon said.
Nazr Mohammed had 13 points, Gerald Wallace scored 12, Flip Murray had 11 points and Raymond Felton added 10 for the offensively challenged Bobcats, who have lost three straight.
"That's a bad loss," Tyson Chandler said. "I'm very disappointed because I don't feel like we should lose to that team in that way."
Charlotte started the second quarter with a two-point lead, then got outscored 61-31 over the next two periods.
"It was a miracle when we took the lead in the second quarter, the way we had been playing," Bobcats coach Larry Brown said. "It all fell apart right after that, and we never got it going again."
Kuester beat his mentor, Brown, who had Kuester on his championship-winning staff with the Pistons in 2004.
"We just got outcoached," Brown said. "They executed better than we did, they played smarter than we did, they looked more organized than we did. They played like a team when we didn't.
Charlotte entered the game averaging an NBA-low 85 points a game and didn't even approach that lowly total, settling for jump shots and failing to create shots off the dribble.
The Bobcats' 12-point quarter wasn't even their worse of the season. They scored just 10 in three different quarters against three teams this season.
Detroit didn't have any trouble scoring and it was solid on defense as it has been -- surprisingly -- so far with its revamped roster thanks in part to revitalized Ben Wallace.
Detroit's Will Bynum scored 16 points and the 6-foot guard sparked a second-quarter run with a baseline drive and dunk past the 7-1 Chandler.
"That got us going," Gordon said. "Will is one of those guys that is a freak of nature."
Bynum said he tried to dunk on Chandler once in high school.
"I missed," Bynum said.
Rodney Stuckey also scored 16 for the Pistons, who have a .500 record after winning two straight for the first time this season.
NOTES: Detroit's Richard Hamilton (right ankle) and Tayshaun Prince (lower back) didn't play and Kuester said both players "looked better" earlier in the day. Hamilton said "probably not" when asked if he expected to play on an upcoming road trip, starting Nov. 17 against the Lakers and ending Nov. 22 at Phoenix. ... Detroit's next two games are also against former coaches: Washington's Flip Saunders and Dallas' Rick Carlisle. ... Charlotte fell to 0-4 on the road.