By John Delong, The Sports Xchange
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -The Detroit Pistons were looking for redemption on Wednesday night after a dismal performance in a loss to Memphis on Tuesday.
They got it in the form of a 105-99 road victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
Greg Monroe and Jose Calderon came through in the clutch as the Pistons scored the final five points of the game, after taking a 100-99 lead into the final 1:17.
Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said he was pleased with the way his team took care of business down the stretch, after letting an 11-point lead slip away earlier in the fourth quarter.
"I liked our execution down the stretch, our patience, our poise, and we were up against a little bit of adversity," Frank said. "Our guys stayed with it. You can go down the line of guys who contributed, but I thought it was a gutty team win. I liked our resolve tonight."
Calderon, who hit five free throws in the final 1:57, said it was vital for the team to bounce back after trailing by as many as 28 in a 105-91 home loss to Memphis.
"I think you saw a little bit about what this team is about," Calderon said. "You've got to have some pride. It was a terrible game yesterday and we needed to bounce back. We were playing against a team that won last night, they were playing good basketball, and we did it on the road. That's what it's about and that's what you've got to do. You can play one bad game but you've got to come back the next day and do it right."
Brandon Knight led the Pistons with 21 points, all in the first three quarters before he went down with a knee injury. Knight tried to play briefly in the fourth quarter, but then hurt his ankle and was done for the night.
Monroe finished with 19 points, including 10 in the final six minutes. Calderon finished with 17, and Rodney Stuckey scored 12.
The Pistons (22-34) led 77-76 going into the fourth quarter. They opened the quarter with a 13-3 run to take a 90-79 lead with 7:39 left, and they still led 94-85 after a Monroe lay-in with 5:22 left.
But the Bobcats fought back behind two 3-pointers by Byron Mullens and a couple of emphatic slam dunks by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and whittled the margin down to one point three different times. Detroit led 100-99 after two free throws by Kemba Walker with 1:17 left.
Monroe scored in traffic on Detroit's next possession for a 102-99 lead with 1:03 left. Mullens missed a jumper and then Calderon came back to hit one of two with 22.1 seconds remaining. Walker turned the ball over in traffic on the Bobcats' next possession, and Calderon iced the game with two more free throws with 15.1 seconds left.
"It was about us today," Calderon said. "Everybody stayed positive, everybody did a pretty good job, everybody contributed, and at the end I think we just played a little bit better than them. We were smart, we got stops, we let them foul us, we played really good with our time outs, and I would say it was a really good team effort."
Frank praised Monroe for staying patient against double-teams much of the game and then taking over in the final six minutes. Monroe's drive with 2:34 left put Detroit up 98-95, and then his drive with 1:03 left gave Detroit a 102-99 lead.
"They had been doubling me most of the night, so I had to make plays for my teammates," Monroe said. "But he was drawing up plays for me in the post, and I just had to try to make the right decision down the stretch. Fortunately I was able to get to the rim."
Walker led the Bobcats (13-41) with 24 points. Ramon Sessions scored 18, Mullens 15 and Kidd-Gilchrist 11.
"They lead the league in points in the paint, and we did a good job of limiting them most of the game," Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said. "But down the stretch when the game was decided, we were not able to."
NOTES: The Pistons were cautious not to speculate about Knight's injury after the game. He will be examined in Detroit on Thursday. ... Andre Drummond missed his sixth straight game for the Pistons with a stress fracture of the fifth lumbar vertebra. ... The Bobcats won the only previous game between the teams 108-101 in overtime at Detroit on Jan. 6. ... The teams will meet two more times this season, on March 23 in Charlotte and on April 12 at Detroit. ... The Bobcats were opening a three-game homestand on Wednesday night. They'll face Chicago at home on Friday and Denver on Saturday. ... Before the game, Dunlap declined to talk about a recent incident with Ben Gordon, saying he had moved on. ... The Pistons will play at Indiana on Friday night and then will meet the Pacers again at home on Saturday night. ... With a completely healthy roster, the Bobcats have been designating Tyrus Thomas as their inactive.