CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – For the first time this week the Detroit Pistons had some fun.
But then, most teams do these days against the NBA-worst Charlotte Bobcats.
Greg Monroe had 25 points and 11 rebounds as the Pistons salvaged a four-game road trip with a 109-85 rout of the woeful Bobcats on Thursday night.
Brandon Knight added 21 points and seven assists while Jason Maxiell was a perfect 8-for-8 from the field and finished with 17 points.
The Pistons had won six of seven games before embarking on a rough road trip that included losses to Atlanta, Miami and Orlando, the final two by a combined margin of 53 points.
But they had no such problems with Bobcats, who became the first team this season to lose 50 games.
Detroit shot 61 percent from the field over the first three quarters and led by as many as 36.
“It was a fun game to coach and a fun game to watch,” said Pistons coach Lawrence Frank. “I thought our guys played hard and committed on the defensive end for the most part. And then they did a great job sharing the basketball. They ran the floor — 21 fast-break points — and 28 assists. I thought everyone contributed and made their minutes count.”
Monroe in particular.
He played 26 minutes and was 11-for-14 from the field as he continues to build a case for the NBA’s most improved player.
“I would say I’ve gotten better,” Monroe said. “I still have a lot of work to do. During the summer, I made sure I continued to work. I think I did a good job with that. And during the year, I’ve gotten a lot better. So it’s a combination of a lot of things.”
It was more of the same for the Bobcats, who’ve now lost 14 straight games – two short of the franchise record set earlier this season.
And things aren’t going to get any easier.
The Bobcats announced earlier in the day that leading scorer Corey Maggette will miss the remainder of the season with a strained Achilles. The news comes just a few days after the team lost forward Eduardo Najera for the year to a broken skull.
D.J. Augustin and Derrick Brown each had 13 points for the Bobcats, who dropped to 0-4 against the Pistons this season.
“We’re missing a lot of people and having to play my young boys, we just didn’t have it,” Bobcats coach Paul Silas said. “Defensively we didn’t stop anybody. Rebounding-wise we just didn’t block out. It’s just one of those nights where nothing went right for us – nothing.”
The Pistons repeatedly went after Byron Mullens inside and he became a defensive liability as the night progressed.
That forced Silas to remove him from the game several times.
“We haven’t had a chance to go over it enough where it becomes a habit of what to do, but it takes toughness, especially against a guy like Maxiell,” Silas said. “He’s so big and strong that he’s going to push you out and you can’t allow that to happen.”
Said Mullens: “Maxiell had a few open ones and a few contested ones. It was just going for him. I don’t know. I’ve done the same to people what he did to me tonight. He just had a hot hand from the start. There was nothing much I could do but get up in his face more.”
Inside or outside, it didn’t matter – everything seemed to work on this night for the Pistons (22-36). At times it appeared the Bobcats were stuck in glue on defense. The Pistons got plenty of easy baskets in the first half and led by as many as 19 before taking a 52-40 lead into the locker room.
Led by Monroe and Maxiell, Detroit shot 58 percent from the field in the opening half.
It was Charlotte’s 17th loss by 20 or more points.
As if things couldn’t get any worse for the Bobcats, they have to go play the Heat in Miami on Friday night a fact that led Silas to a cynical laugh.
“We have to play better,” Silas said shaking his head. “We have to play better or I don’t know what it’s going to be like.”
NOTES: New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, a Charlotte native, attended Thursday night’s game. Nicks was a local star at Independence High and went on to play at North Carolina. … Gana Diop made his first appearance for the Bobcats in 21 games for the Bobcats. … Bobcats rookie center Bismack Biyombo left the game briefly with a left ankle sprain but did return after getting taped.
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