Undermanned Pistons lose to Bobcats

Undermanned Pistons lose to Bobcats

Published Dec. 22, 2009 8:58 p.m. ET

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Stephen Jackson showed his competitive spirit Tuesday night by playing through painful back spasms.

Yet as he winced while gingerly
putting on his dress shirt after his Charlotte Bobcats beat the
undermanned Detroit Pistons 88-76, Jackson declared that teammate
Gerald Wallace plays just as hard as him.

"But with more athleticism," Jackson said.

Wallace had 29 points and 12 rebounds
in his return after a concussion scare, continuing perhaps his best
season as a pro as the Bobcats snapped a three-game losing streak.


"Gerald is a monster, man," Jackson
said. "I know if I had to vote for anybody in the All-Star (game), with
the year he's having he definitely needs to be there.

"I love him because of how hard he plays."

His energy was too much for the
Pistons, who lost their fifth straight as they again had 52 points a
game in street clothes, with Richard Hamilton (hamstring), Tayshaun
Prince (back) and Ben Gordon (ankle) sidelined.

Gordon thought on Monday that he was
close to returning, but said his ankle "didn't feel right" after a
workout and he missed his eighth straight game.

Throw in Charlie Villanueva being
limited by a sore foot, and the Pistons had few options after Rodney
Stuckey, who scored 20 points.

"I just couldn't move out there really, man," said Villanueva, who shot 2 for 8. "I couldn't really take off. It's frustrating."

Wallace missed Sunday's loss to New
York after getting elbowed in the face a night earlier. The Bobcats
don't think he sustained what would be his fifth concussion as a pro,
and he passed a series of tests over the past two days to get cleared
to return.

The 6-foot-7 Wallace, second only to
Orlando's Dwight Howard in rebounds per game, saw no drop-off there and
had a big game from 3-point range.

Wallace shot 4 of 6 on 3s, including
a 23-footer early in the second half to put Charlotte up 60-39. The
Pistons got no closer than 12 points the rest of the way and Charlotte
finished 9 of 18 from long range ahead of a three-day break.

"It makes Christmas a whole lot better right now," Wallace said.

Jackson added 13 points, eight
rebounds and four assists two nights after leaving the Knicks loss in
the third quarter. He joked at shootaround that he was going to "take
some Advil and play" and was clearly in pain. Running into a screen in
the third quarter made it worse.

"He's courageous, man," Wallace
said. "I've had back spasms and I don't know how he did it. ... I
wouldn't have been able to do it."

Each time Jackson came out he got a
heat pad wrapped around his lower back. He had to be helped by a
trainer to sit down in the second quarter and sat on a large exercise
ball in the third. But it didn't seem to slow him on the floor

Jackson's driving layup and his feed
to Nazr Mohammed for a dunk keyed an 18-5 run to start the second
quarter that put Charlotte ahead 41-24. Wallace had 19 points at
halftime and the Bobcats led 52-36, spoiling Pistons coach John
Kuester's return to North Carolina.

Kuester spent time before tip-off
chatting with his former boss, Charlotte coach Larry Brown, and talking
up his old school. But Kuester, an assistant under Brown on Detroit's
2004 NBA championship team, had an overmatched roster.

Chucky Atkins, Jonas Jerebko and
Jason Maxiell were in the starting lineup for the Pistons, who got most
of their offense from the emerging Stuckey.

He hit nine of 20 shots, but Will
Bynum (12 points) was the only other player in double figures for
Detroit, which had won four straight in Charlotte.

"It's not fun losing, and it does play on you a little bit," Kuester said. "But these guys are going to bounce back."

The Bobcats were without guard Flip
Murray, who has a sprained right ankle, then lost struggling center
Tyson Chandler to a sprained left foot in the third quarter.

Ex-Piston Mohammed filled in well in the middle with 12 points and nine rebounds. But the night belonged to Wallace.

"He's shooting the ball better. He
gives you effort," Brown said. "He doesn't seek shots. He takes what's
there. He was phenomenal."

NOTES: An X-ray on Chandler ruled
out a fractured foot. "I'm sure it'll feel better soon," he said. ...
Brown was talking to reporters after shootaround when Hamilton walked
by. "Greatest coach of all-time right there," Hamilton said. ... Brown
on all the Pistons' injuries: "I look at it as a good thing. They're
developing the young guys and when they come back they're going to be
off and running."