Pistons Are First to 50 Wins, Defeat Bobcats
Detroit 94, Charlotte 78
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., March 12 (Ticker) -- Richard Hamilton and the Detroit Pistons quickly returned to their renowned defensive form.
Hamilton scored 24 points and Tayshaun Prince added 23 as the Pistons locked down defensively in a 94-78 triumph over the Charlotte Bobcats to become the first team to reach 50 wins.
Detroit coach Flip Saunders joins Rick Carlisle and Larry Brown as the only Pistons' coaches to reach the 50-win plateau in his first season in Detroit.
Coming off Saturday's 110-92 setback in which they allowed Washington to shoot 55 percent from the field, the Pistons returned to a commitment on the defensive end from the start to improve to 3-0 this season vs. the Bobcats.
"I thought we were great defensively," Hamilton said. "We pressured the ball, got in passing lanes, forced everything baseline. That's what we wanted to do tonight. We weren't worried about our offense. We wanted to come out and try to make a statement."
Detroit held a 50-39 lead at the break, forcing Charlotte into 37 percent (16-of-43) shooting.
After leading by as many as 15 points in the third quarter, the Pistons had a drought that allowed the Bobcats to pull within 65-60. However, Detroit closed the period on a 11-2 run highlighted by seven points from Hamilton to build a 76-62 advantage.
"We had some good shots," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "We had some point-blank shots at that time. I think what happened was on the other end, they went to Hamilton and he made some big shots. Their execution down the stretch was really, really good."
In the fourth quarter, Detroit's defense intensity went into overdrive as it held Charlotte to 16 points on 6-of-19 shooting. The Pistons put away the contest with a 12-2 surge in which Hamilton scored six points.
"We were much better locked in defensively," Saunders said. "Offensively we had 33 assists on 39 buckets, which shows you we're moving the ball and playing how we want to play."
Hamilton made 11-of-21 shots and Prince connected on 10-of-17 and handed out six assists. Ben Wallace grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked three shots and fellow All-Star Chauncey Billups dished out 11 assists.
"We want to go out and win every game," Wallace said. "That's what we put out to do in the start. It's not about who we're playing, it's about going out there and taking care of business."
Rookie Raymond Felton scored 18 points and backcourt mate Brevin Knight had 10 assists for Charlotte, which shot 38 percent (31-of-82). Melvin Ely scored 15 points.
"I think we just wanted to come out and compete," said Bobcats forward Jumaine Jones, who collected 13 points and 11 rebounds. "Detroit is a very good basketball team. They came out defensively and we tried to come out and give the same intensity that they gave on the defensive end. They're just a great basketball team. We played against a great team tonight. They were just better than us tonight."