AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) - The Charlotte Bobcats are hoping to fight off several teams for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
They took a step in the right direction on Wednesday night.
Stephen Jackson scored a season-high 39 points to lead the Bobcats, playing their sixth straight road game, to a 97-87 win over the shorthanded Detroit Pistons.
``This is a big, big win considering we're going back home for three tough games,' Charlotte coach Paul Silas said. ``We really needed this one.'
Jackson, a former Pacer still hated at the Palace for his role in the Ron Artest brawl with Detroit fans in 2004, enjoyed the give-and-take with the fans. At one point, he mimed crying after hitting a key 3-pointer.
``People don't understand that when you boo me, I play better,' he said. ``People still remember that incident, and I hate that it happened, but I'm just having fun. I love hecklers.'
Detroit entered the game 3 1/2 games behind Charlotte in the East.
``This one hurts a lot,' said Austin Daye. ``This was a game we needed, because that's one of the teams we're trying to catch in the East.'
Former Pistons center Kwame Brown added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Bobcats, who snapped a two-game losing streak. Brown's double-double was his third in six games, one more than he had in two seasons with the Pistons.
``I didn't get to play much here - four or five minutes here and there, and that's hard for anyone,' he said. ``Here, I've been blessed with a situation to play some positive minutes. This league is about opportunities, and what you make of them.'
Detroit, which lost its fourth in a row, was missing Rodney Stuckey (shoulder) and Jason Maxiell (back). Ben Gordon led the Pistons with 20 points and Tayshaun Prince added 16.
``We need to regroup, and we'll be able to do that when we get Stuck back,' Pistons coach John Kuester said. ``We've got a lot of basketball left.'
Charlotte held the Pistons to 39 percent shooting in the first half, and held a 28-14 rebounding advantage, but only led 44-41 at the break. That allowed Detroit to get back into the game, starting with a 9-2 run to open the second half.
The Pistons led 56-48 midway through the third quarter, but the Bobcats went on a 20-9 run to take a 68-65 lead heading into the fourth.
``That's been our Achilles heel all season - giving up those big runs in the second half,' Daye said. ``We still thought we had control of the game, but Stephen Jackson got hot.'
Jackson started the fourth with a 3-pointer, and Gerald Henderson added a three-point play to put Charlotte up 74-65. Detroit was then called for a shot-clock violation before Jackson's jumper made it a double-digit lead.
``That was about defense,' Jackson said. ``We got stops and some easy baskets. They missed a couple shots and we took advantage of them.'
By the time the Bobcats had finished the run, which included another Jackson 3-pointer, they led by 16 points.
Detroit cut the deficit to 90-83 with 3:10 left, but Jackson answered by blowing past Prince for an easy layup.
Notes: Because of a storm that dropped nearly a foot of snow in Metro Detroit on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the Pistons gave away free ``Snow Day' tickets. Despite that, the game drew a smaller-than-normal crowd. ... Richard Hamilton was active after missing three games with the flu, but told team conditioning coach Arnie Kander that he wouldn't be able play. Hamilton has not appeared in a game since January 10, and has reportedly not spoken to Kuester or team president Joe Dumars about the situation.
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