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Pistons defeat Bobcats 113-93 for third straight win

The SportsXchange

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Just when the Detroit Pistons found a winning formula, they're almost out of time.

They stretched their winning streak to three games and handed the Charlotte Bobcats their fourth straight loss, 113-93, at The Palace on Friday. The Pistons' streak is their second longest of the season. They had a four-game run in late December and early January.

Too bad they only have two games left. The only goal the lottery-bound Pistons (28-52) have left is a 30-win season.

"It feels great we"re winning these games down the stretch of the season," rookie center Andre Drummond said. "We"re looking real good. We"re starting to play with some poise and it"s a good sign of what"s going to be next year. We"re just using this as a stepping stone."

Drummond has been a big part of the late surge. After missing 22 games with a back injury, Drummond has displayed his freakish athleticism while gaining a starting role. Coming off a career-high 29-point performance at Cleveland on Wednesday, he had 15 points and nine rebounds before spraining his right ankle with 5:30 remaining. He"s optimistic that he can play the remaining games.

Reserve forward Jonas Jerebko has also come on strong of late. He matched his season high with 21 points, just one shy of his career high, and grabbed eight rebounds. Jerebko, a third-year forward, has scored at least 15 points in five of the last eight games.

Jerebko languished on the bench for nearly two months before regaining a rotation spot in late February.

"For Jonas, it"s got to be all hustle, effort and energy, " Detroit coach Lawrence Frank said. "Shoot open shots, crash the glass, cut off the ball and be a ball mover and then whatever happens, happens. A stat sheet may not always tell how well a guy like that plays. He"s in a real good rhythm. He"s strung together several good games and it"s a big, big positive."

Brandon Knight had 19 points and seven rebounds, Will Bynum added 15 points and 10 assists and Greg Monroe chipped in 12 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals for Detroit. The Pistons had advantages of 45-33 in rebounds, 53-18 in bench points and 58-28 in points in the paint.

"We"re still professional athletes and we get paid to do a job and that"s not to quit," Bynum said. "We have to keep building and keep getting better. We"ve got a bunch of young guys and we want to bring them along the right way."

Kemba Walker had 28 points, six assists and five rebounds and Josh McRoberts added 17 points and seven rebounds for Charlotte (18-61). The Bobcats, who finished their road schedule with a 6-35 record, have lost a franchise-record 14th consecutive away games.

Charlotte had 24 turnovers, which the Pistons converted into 29 points.

"Just too many turnovers in order to win the game," Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said. "The first half was quality. I did not like the last two minutes of the second quarter but nonetheless we were down six. We had a push back in us in the third but you have to take good care of the ball."

The Pistons opened the second half with an 11-4 run, capped by a Kyle Singler 3-pointer, to take a 70-57 lead. The Bobcats crept within seven before the Pistons stretched their advantage to 14 by the end of the quarter. Charlotte never got closer throughout the fourth quarter.

"We settled for a lot of jump shots," Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson said. "They have a lot of quick guards and obviously, their bigs are good. Drummond is coming along and Greg Monroe played great."

The first half, which ended with the Pistons up 59-53, featured hot shooting by Walker, Jerebko and Knight and plenty of turnovers. Walker poured in 24 points, including four 3-pointers, while Jerebko and Knight combined for 31 points. Jerebko made a 3-pointer in the closing seconds to reach 17 by halftime. The teams had trouble holding onto the ball when the hot hands weren't scoring as they combined for 21 turnovers.

NOTES: Pistons point guard Jose Calderon missed his third consecutive game with a strained right triceps. ... Detroit has won eight of the previous nine meetings, with Charlotte's lone victory being a 108-101 overtime triumph at The Palace on Jan. 6. ... Charlotte closes out its season with three home games, beginning with Milwaukee on Saturday. The Pistons play their home finale against Philadelphia on Monday. ... Drummond has nine double-doubles, second among rookies to New Orleans' Anthony Davis (20) despite missing 22 games with a back injury. Dunlap has been especially impressed with his offensive rebounding. Drummond is averaging 2.8 per game and had five on Friday. "He puts a presence on the offensive boards," Dunlap said. "It's like there's a piece of meat on the tip of the rim and he's going after that sucker like a hound dog that hasn't been fed for seven days." ... Henderson had 15 points to extend his streak of consecutive double-figure scoring games to 21, the longest of his career.
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