Prince, Pistons Beat Bobcats on Road
Detroit 108, Charlotte 103
CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 18 (Ticker) -- A win wasn't enough to hide the recent troubles of the Detroit Pistons.
The Pistons again allowed 100 points and played a haphazard fourth quarter before holding on for a 108-103 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats, the NBA's worst team.
"It was important to win tonight," Prince said. "It's been a long trip for us. We've only played three games, but we've been away from home for a week. When you get away from home that long, it's kind of tough, so it was definitely important to finish it up strong.
"We were sluggish today, but we were able to come through with the win."
Consecutive wins over Cleveland at the end of February gave Detroit a sparkling 47-9 mark. However, the Pistons have stumbled a bit in March, going 1-2 on a road trip and absorbing an 18-point loss at Washington a week ago as they have lost some focus.
"No disrespect to anybody, but it's always fun to play the other elite teams in the league," Pistons guard Chauncey Billups said. "It makes a difference."
This month, normally defensive-minded Detroit has allowed 100 points five times in its seven games, including in Friday's loss at New York.
"I'm not sure what's wrong," Billups said. "They've been able to score points against us early. We give teams that freedom early on and when we try to play lock-down defense it's tough, because they've already got it going."
"They stayed around and hit those shots late," Hamilton said. "We were just happy to get out of here with a win tonight. We've got 17 games to go and we want to get better, but we're still trying to find a little rhythm."
There were more problems Saturday as the Pistons nearly squandered a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter. They committed eight turnovers in the period and went scoreless for more than 3 1/2 minutes until they were rescued by Prince.
"It's a back-to-back," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. "Yu get a little bit tired, but a lot of them were unforced, dribbling the ball out of bounds twice off their leg. They put a lot of pressure on you."
A 3-pointer by Billups opened a 105-98 lead with 3:44 to play before Bernard Robinson answered with a driving layup. Ben Wallace missed four straight foul shots - including an airball - before Detroit committed a shot-clock violation.
A free throw by Brevin Knight and a tip-in by Jake Voskuhl cut the deficit to 105-103 with 19 seconds remaining. However, the Bobcats were slow to foul and Prince drove, was hit and flipped in a runner. His free throw sealed it with 10 seconds to go.
"They were just trying to foul, so I just threw it up at the basket," Prince said. "As long as you don't dribble anymore, it's a continuation. Once I heard them yell foul, I knew I was going to go to the rim. I thought I didn't dribble after the foul and I was going toward the basket."
Billups scored 20 points and Rasheed Wallace added 16 for the Pistons, who shot a season-best 57 percent (39-of-68) - including 11-of-20 3-pointers - and had six players in double figures to overcome a season-high 20 turnovers.
Primoz Brezec scored 20 points but did not play in the fourth quarter and Voskuhl added a season-high 18 off the bench for the Bobcats, who shot 51 percent (45-of-89) and scored 62 points in the paint.
"Each time we made a run at them, they would come right back with a big shot," Brezec said. "Chauncey hit some big shots. They know how to win close games and their experience down the stretch showed tonight. They are a good basketball team."
Prince had a three-point play and a free throw in a 9-4 surge that closed the third quarter and gave Detroit the lead for good at 89-84. Consecutive 3-pointers by Maurice Evans and Rasheed Wallace made it 100-88 with 8:34 to go.
"We got a little run at the end of third and were able to force some turnovers," Prince said. "That let us build on that lead. I was able to get us going a little bit and we pushed it up to eight or nine points."
Charlotte suffered its fourth straight loss overall and was swept in the season series.