The Charlotte Bobcats were trying to win a season-high third-straight game on Saturday, but Charlie Villanueva and the Detroit Pistons played the role of spoiler.
Villanueva scored 15 of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter, including a lay up with 15 seconds left, helping Detroit knock off Charlotte at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The 92-91 victory by Detroit (24-47) snaps a 10-game losing streak.
“Tonight's win felt really good after being on a losing streak," Villanueva said. "We kind of got that monkey off our back, and you could just see how excited everybody was to get that win and the way we did it.”
The Bobcats (16-53) lost starting forward Josh McRoberts in the first quarter after he suffered a left shoulder strain. McRoberts left the game immediately, but later returned to the bench at the 9:33 mark of the third quarter after being evaluated.
Despite the loss of McRoberts early, the 'Cats powered ahead 50-47 at halftime.
Charlotte managed to distance itself in the third quarter with the performance of Jannero Pargo.
Pargo, an eighth-year guard out of the University of Arkansas, made the most of the final day of his 10-day contract with Charlotte by scoring nine points in the final 2:48 of the third quarter to give his team a cushion in the second half.
He finished Saturday's game with 16 points off of the bench.
“I was able to create a little bit of space and get my shot off," Pargo said. "It’s something I’ve been working on. I’m getting in better shape and getting my legs underneath me. I’m able to make those types of shots. I give a lot of credit to my teammates. They do a great job of looking for me and setting picks trying to get me open.”
Detroit trailed 76-69 entering the fourth, but the Pistons outscored the Bobcats, 9-2, in the first 4:37 of the quarter. Villanueva's 3-pointer at the 7:23 mark tied the game at 78-78. He made 3-of-5 attempts from behind the arc in the final stanza.
Kemba Walker tried to keep Charlotte in Saturday's game. He scored nine points in the fourth quarter, including a key 3-point play after being fouled by Detroit's Kyle Singler while making a lay up.
However, Villanueva paced the Pistons late, scoring 12 of his team's final 17 points.
Walker made a pair of free throws with 31.6 seconds left after being fouled by Villanueva to give Charlotte a 91-90 lead, and the Pistons called timeout to set up their final play.
During the Pistons final possession, Villanueva came up short of making another 3-pointer to give his team the lead, but teammate Greg Monroe collected the offensive rebound and found a slashing Villanueva for the go-ahead lay up.
“I was just reading what the defense was giving me," Villanueva said of his eventual game-winning score. "They were overplaying me a lot and taking the three-pointer away, so I just drove it to the basket. I give all the credit to my teammates because they found me and I made the plays they needed me to down the stretch.”
Charlotte used a timeout to set up what it hoped to be the winning play of the game.
The Bobcats had two chances at a game-winning shot, including a floating lay up by Walker and a second lay up attempt by Josh McRoberts off of an offensive rebound, but neither attempt would go — sealing the Pistons win.
“We just couldn’t come up with the defensive stops," said Gerald Henderson, who finished Saturday with 15 points. "We played some good 'D' for a while there in the fourth quarter, but we couldn’t come up with the stops late and then I don’t think we scored that many points in the fourth quarter. I think we scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, which will never help you win.”
Charlotte quickly tries to regain momentum in a big way on Sunday when it travels to Miami to take on the red hot Heat, which have won 25-straight games — the second-longest streak in NBA history.
- After scoring a team-high 25 points against Toronto on Wednesday, Charlotte forward Byron Mullens was held to 0 points on 0-of-5 shooting from the field (0-for-2 on 3-pointers). He had five rebounds and one blocked shot against the Pistons.
- Kemba Walker's 25-point performance on Saturday was his 10th straight game in double figures. He has scored in double digits in 59 of 69 games this season.
- Jannero Pargo's 16 points were the second-most he has scored since joining the team on March 15.
- Bismack Biyombo, who entered Saturday making 52 percent of his free throws, was 6-for-6 from the charity stripe on Saturday. Biyombo also made all three of his field goal attempts, tallying his fourth double-double of the season (12 points, 10 rebounds) and second against Detroit (10 points, 17 rebounds on Jan. 6).