DUANE BURLESON / AP Enlarge
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. Will Bynum didn t want any attention. He just wanted a victory.
He got both.
Bynum scored a franchise-record 26 points in the fourth quarter to lead Detroit to a 104-97 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Sunday that put the Pistons a step closer to locking up the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Bynum scored the final 13 points for the Pistons and finished with a career-high 32 points, and also had seven assists. He made all six of his field-goal attempts and went 14-for-16 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
He was getting to the foul line and making plays, Detroit s Tayshaun Prince said. He pretty much just won the game for us with his decision-making.
Bynum said he wasn t concerned with being the center of attention or the focus of the offense just with picking up an important victory.
We definitely needed that game, he said. It doesn t matter to me. I could have sat on the bench and scored two points and I still would have been up cheering, trying to get this win.
If we got the win, I d be satisfied no matter what happened.
Bynum picked up the scoring load for Richard Hamilton, who led Detroit with 13 points before he was ejected at the end of the third quarter when he picked up his second technical foul.
With Hamilton out, the Pistons relied heavily on a pick-and-roll offense featuring Bynum and Prince, which was a different look from what the Bobcats saw in the first three quarters.
The thing that causes this team (Charlotte) the most problems, is dribble penetration, Pistons coach Michael Curry said. When we got some of it in the first half, they went to the zone and made us stagnant the beginning of the third quarter. When we got Will back in the game, he made it difficult for them to go back into the zone. He just kept attacking pick-and-roll situations.
The win was the third for Detroit in four meetings with Charlotte this season and leaves the Pistons three games ahead of the Bobcats with five games remaining in the race for the final playoff spot.
We just have to execute better, Charlotte coach Larry Brown said. We had some really bad turnovers late, and when you have some empty possessions late in the game, you don t have time to overcome that.
We just need to keep getting better.
D.J. Augustin led Charlotte with 22 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter. Raymond Felton added 18, while Boris Diaw and Emeka Okafor added 14 points each. Okafor pulled down 16 rebounds.
Prince added 14 points for Detroit, while Kwame Brown and Antonio McDyess each grabbed nine rebounds.
Charlotte led 10-2 early in the game, but the Pistons rallied to lead by as many as 17 in the before the half. The Bobcats rallied to lead in the third quarter and led at the start of the fourth before Detroit pulled away. Still, Charlotte trailed by just three with 13.3 seconds left before Bynum iced the game with free throws.
There were just a lot of things that he was doing that we couldn t control, Felton said. He made great plays. That is all I can say.
The Pistons are trying to clinch a playoff berth for the eighth consecutive season while the Bobcats have yet to play in the postseason.
Notes :Isiah Thomas and Jerry Stackhouse shared the Pistons record for points in a quarter with 24. Thomas did it twice, against Atlanta in 1983 and Philadelphia in 1989. Stackhouse had 24 in the first quarter against Chicago in 2001. ... Pistons center Rasheed Wallace returned to the starting lineup and had a season-high six assists. He came off the bench in the previous three games after returning following a calf injury that caused him to miss 11 games. ... Bobcats guard Raja Bell sat out with a calf injury. Cartier Martin started in his place. ... Eleven Detroit and Charlotte players have played in the NCAA tournament. Just two won a national championship with a team that is playing in Monday night s national title game: Charlotte teammates Raymond Felton and Sean May won national titles at North Carolina.