After reaping the Orlando Magic of all that they were worth last night, the Charlotte Bobcats (13-41) headed home to take on the Detroit Pistons (22-34), a team that they had already defeated earlier in the season. Unfortunately, history could not repeat itself and the Pistons won two road games in a row for the first time this season.
The Bobcats opened the game with a turnover and they'd go on to turn the ball over four times within the first five minutes. However, the team collectively cleaned things up from then on, turning it over just nine times by the end of the game. My favorite moment of the game came during the first quarter when Gerald Henderson came off of a screen wide open for a mid-range jumper. He opted out on making a move towards the rim and instead he charged into a Pistons defender at the top of the paint. Luckily, the rest of the game wasn't quite as unfortunate for him as he'd finish with 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists. After trailing 16-8, the Cats came within three by the end of the quarter, fuelled by Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions, who missed just one shot in the first twelve minutes. The Bobcats would continue their run into the second half, and a Sessions three-pointer would give them the lead with two minutes to go.
In what was a scary moment for Pistons fans, Kemba Walker collided into Brandon Knight, injuring Knight's right knee. After finally getting off of the floor, Knight attempted to re-enter the game, but it was rather obvious from his limp that he was in no condition to play. He finished the night with 21 points and five assists in just 29 minutes.
The Pistons and Bobcats traded baskets for the majority of the second half, up until a few minutes in to the fourth quarter. Rodney Stuckey scored on three consecutive possessions, including a completed and-one. The Pistons went on a 14-3 run, extending their lead to nine points at one point. Stuckey scored seven of his 12 points in this stretch. Charlotte rallied behind a couple of threes from Byron Mullens and two MKG dunks, including this rim-crushing poster slam over Greg Monroe, brought the Bobcats within one.
Even though all of the momentum was going the Bobcats way, Greg Monroe continued to be stellar. He scored twice in crunch time to top off his 17 point, nine rebound performance. The Bobcats sealed their fate on the final play of the game, when an errant pass turned into a steal by Jose Calderon. He'd nail his free throws, making it a six point game, and that would be all she wrote.
Kemba Walker had a fantastic night, scoring 24 points and nailing four three-pointers, but it wouldn't be enough to give Charlotte its first two-game winning streak since early in the year. However, it was still encouraging to see the Bobcats play well after a disparaging effort in the first quarter. Their propensity to take care of the ball tonight may not have given them a victory, but it does speak well to their progress as a team. Not to mention, it's always a breath of fresh air to see the relentless effort on the glass that Charlotte displayed tonight.
Despite taking a victory tonight, the Pistons are still six games behind Milwaukee in the playoff hunt, so it looks like the draft pick they owe the Bobcats will have to wait another year. That's all the better for Charlotte though, since the pick's protection dwindles down to top-8 in 2014.