Win Streak Snapped

Resilient Bobcats keep clawing, pull out OT win over Pistons

TEAM COLORS

The story of the game in Pistons red, white and blue

White Hot – The Pistons made their first four shots and 72 percent of their first-quarter attempts, yet they could never really shake the Charlotte Bobcats and ultimately paid the price for it, seeing their four-game winning streak snapped in a 108-101 overtime loss. Charlotte, which snapped an 18-game winning streak last week by winning at Chicago, forced overtime on Kemba Walker’s floater with seven seconds left, then never trailed after scoring on its first two possessions of OT. Walker scored 20 and Ben Gordon added 18 for the Bobcats. Tayshaun Prince made his first six shots and led the Pistons with 21 points.

BLUE COLLAR – Greg Monroe helped get the Pistons started right with a tremendous first quarter in which he took just two shots. But he grabbed seven rebounds, dished out five assists and took two charges as the Pistons ran their offense through him at the elbows. Monroe finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds and six assists on 7 of 10 shooting.

RED FLAG – If the Pistons had safeguarded the basketball better and refrained from fouling, they would have had the type of lead one would expect when an NBA team shoots nearly 70 percent for most of the first half. Yet the Pistons led by only a point at halftime (60-59) because Charlotte owned advantages of 16-5 in points off turnovers and 14-4 in free throws. The Pistons got outscored 26-14 off of turnovers for the game and by 25-13 at the foul line. They committed 22 turnovers. After dominating opponents on the backboards and points in the paint in going 6-1 in their previous seven games, the Pistons were outscored 56-48 in the paint and were narrowly outrebounded, 45-44.

The Pistons had their highest-scoring first half of the season against the eight-win Charlotte Bobcats – a team that less than a week ago was in the throes of an 18-game losing streak – yet led by just one point.

Uh-oh.

Yeah, it was one of those nights, a 108-101 overtime loss that will serve to slow the “P” word conversation. The Pistons had won four in a row and six of seven, dominating opponents in the paint and off the glass in the process, but couldn’t shake the Bobcats despite shooting better than 70 percent for much of the first half.

“I think when we score easily, sometimes I think we lose our defensive focus,” Lawrence Frank said. “And I thought that’s what happened. We held ’em in the first quarter to 21, but we gave up 38 points in the second quarter? It’s a ballgame now, especially when a team sees the rim that big. Thirty-eight points?”

Charlotte made Frank edgy. He talked about how dangerous the Bobcats were before the game for the way they push the ball – off of makes or off of misses, didn’t matter – and compared them to Denver and Sacramento. He warned his team about taking care of the basketball. He talked about Charlotte’s last five games defensively, how they were No. 3 in the league in field-goal percentage allowed despite ranking 25th in that category over the season. He talked about guards Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions being the top duo in the NBA in scoring in transition.

And then the Bobcats made him look like a prophet. They forced the Pistons into an unsightly 22 turnovers and scored 26 points off of them. They outscored the Pistons 25-9 in transition and 25-13 at the foul line. That’s how you lose despite shooting 50 percent and outscoring the other team by 15 points from the 3-point line despite a subpar 8 of 26 (30.8 percent) on long-distance shots.

“They just kept coming and coming,” said Will Bynum, who had his chances to put the game away but missed three shots on one possession when the Pistons led by two with just more than a minute remaining. “Defensively, we weren’t as sharp as we normally are. We’ve just got to go back to the drawing board and be better in that department.”

The Pistons led 8-0 after four possessions and it looked like they were going to run Charlotte out of the building. They led pretty much from wire to wire. When the Bobcats tied it for the first time at 39, the Pistons spurted to a 13-point lead but saw the Bobcats close the second quarter on a 14-2 run. They pushed the lead back to eight in the third quarter when the game got grittier and fell one point behind in the fourth quarter before leading by two for most of the last three minutes.

Charlotte forced overtime by grabbing two offensive rebounds on its last possession, both following Walker misses – the second an emphatic Andre Drummond rejection – but Walker, epitomizing the doggedness with which Charlotte played, scored to tie it with 7.8 seconds left. Rodney Stuckey shot a hurried air ball with a second left and Charlotte controlled overtime, scoring the first four points and never trailing.

“We took a step back as far as getting stops and defensively, controlling the game,” said Brandon Knight, who was charged with four of Detroit’s turnovers. “Just continue to improve, keep the same habits, look at the things we did wrong and try not to make it a habit.”

Frank insisted the Pistons weren’t guilty of taking Charlotte lightly – “no one overlooked anyone - there’s too much parity,” he said – but wouldn’t deny the Pistons got outworked.

“Look at what many people consider the hustle areas,” he said. “Fast-break points, second-chance points, free throws attempted. We lost all those areas. It’s just disappointing. We don’t have the margin for error to get outworked. We just don’t.”