ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Al Jefferson had 32 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists to lead the Charlotte Bobcats to a 108-96 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night.
Kemba Walker scored 22 points and Josh McRoberts added 14 points and 10 rebounds to help the Bobcats extend their lead over the Pistons to 1½ games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Jefferson reached 30 points for the sixth time in nine games.
The teams conclude their home-and-home set in Charlotte on Wednesday night.
Andre Drummond, coming off his MVP performance in the Rising Stars game last Friday, had 16 points and 22 rebounds for Detroit. However, that wasn’t enough to overcome a terrible shooting performance by his teammates. Interim coach John Loyer dropped to 1-2 after replacing Maurice Cheeks last week.
Detroit got double-doubles from all three post players, as Greg Monroe finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds and Josh Smith added 12 points and 11 rebounds. However, the Pistons shot just 39.8 percent, with Smith at just 5 for 17 from the floor.
The Bobcats got off to a quick start, hitting their first seven shots, and only four missed free throws from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist kept Detroit from digging itself a bigger hole. Even when Charlotte finally missed a shot, they got the offensive rebound and found McRoberts for an open 3-pointer.
Charlotte’s free-throw shooting didn’t get any better — the Bobcats missed 11 of their first 14 attempts — but they were able to maintain a double-digit lead for most of the second quarter. The lead was 54-43 at halftime.
Detroit could have gotten a point at the start of the second half, thanks to a technical foul called on Walker as the teams left the court for the break. Jennings, though, missed the free throw before play resumed.
Detroit was outshot 58 percent to 36 percent in the half, but Charlotte’s struggles from the line and eight offensive rebounds in the second quarter kept the Pistons in the game.
The Bobcats quickly moved the advantage to 67-49 within the first 5 minutes of the third, but Drummond was active enough on the offensive boards to pull Detroit within 79-67 heading to the fourth.
He went to the bench with his fifth foul with 9:47 to play, ending the Pistons’ run. Detroit also started missing their free throws, going 1 for 7 to start the second half.
NOTES: The Bobcats have a 2-0 advantage in the season series, with both wins coming at the Palace. ... Rodney Stuckey, a subject of trade rumors because of his expiring contract, went 1 for 9 from the floor in the first half and finished with two points in 17 minutes. ... Jefferson pulled off a rare feat when he was able to talk an official into changing a call. Tony Brown whistled Jefferson for a delay-of-game violation, but after a brief discussion, Jefferson convinced him to reverse the call.