Pistons 103, Bobcats 92
Webber scored 19 points and carried the Pistons through a sluggish first half, while Wallace scored 11 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter as Detroit salvaged a season series split with Charlotte with a 103-92 win over the Bobcats on Wednesday night.
Richard Hamilton scored 22 points for the Pistons, who shot 52 percent in winning their third straight game.
It’s what the Pistons envisioned when they signed Webber after Philadelphia bought out his contract. In his fourth game with Detroit, Webber shot 7-for-9 and grabbed six rebounds, despite still learning the playbook.
“I know 80 percent of the plays,” Webber said. “Sometimes I forget the name with the play because it’s different, but I don’t think there’s not much more to catch up on. I feel a lot more comfortable out there.”
It wasn’t easy for Detroit, which has struggled against Charlotte all season. The Bobcats had won the last two meetings, including a 103-96 win in Detroit two weeks ago.
With their lead cut to 84-82 on Derek Anderson’s layup with just over 5 minutes left, Chauncey Billups hit a 3-pointer on the next possession to start an 8-2 run. Tayshaun Prince’s 3 with 3:24 left gave the Pistons a 92-84 lead.
Wallace’s two free throws with 1:19 left gave Detroit its first double-digit lead as the Pistons earned a 2-2 series split.
“We’re coming closer,” Wallace said. When (Webber) gets to know the plays, we’ll be all right.
“I’m comfortable playing with him, because he knows defense. That’s a plus. Playing with him when I was in (Washington), I didn’t forget his tendencies.”
The Bobcats were missing five players to injury, four of them big men, yet still outrebounded Detroit 42-31. Primoz Brezec (back), Othella Harrington (knee), Jake Voskuhl (illness) and Melvin Ely (illness) joined point guard Brevin Knight (abdominal surgery) in street clothes.
Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff was impressed with how Wallace carried them.
“Prior to the game we told the players, here are the 10 (players) that we have. Individually, look around and see what you need to do as an individual,” Bickerstaff said. “He was willing to step up and try to put us on his back. He plays hard, with effort.”
Forward Sean May, who had missed the past four games with a sore right knee, returned and had 14 points and six rebounds as the Bobcats couldn’t overcome 18 turnovers as they lost their second straight game.
Charlotte struggled against a zone defense for the second straight game. Toronto switched to a zone Monday and held the Bobcats to eight third-quarter points.
The Bobcats took advantage of Detroit’s listless start to take a 23-16 lead. Charlotte grabbed 14 of the game’s first 17 rebounds and had 13 second-chance points in the first quarter.
“They were kind of lethargic,” Bickerstaff said. “When you catch a team like that, you have to put them away, step on them. We didn’t get any distance on them.”
Detroit rallied to take a 45-44 halftime lead behind Webber, who scored Detroit’s final seven points of the half.
Webber’s reverse layup in the closing seconds of the third quarter put Detroit ahead 71-65.
His 19 points were his most since joining the Pistons, eclipsing the 16 he scored at Minnesota last week.
“The one positive thing about Chris was he carried us when we were struggling there,” Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. “We ran a lot of plays for him and he made a lot of buckets for us.”
Bickerstaff thinks some of his players aren’t doing a good enough job studying the pregame scouting reports of the opponent. “I don’t know whether our young players really do the little extra things in terms of helping themselves,” Bickerstaff said before the game. … Hamilton was called for a flagrant foul on Anderson in the second quarter. … NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was honored at halftime.