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Pistons vs. Bobcats final score: Familiar returns in 108-96 loss

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The Pistons fell a game and a half back of the Bobcats for the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference. They'll have a chance to get this game back on Wednesday in Charlotte.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

What happened:

The All-Star break ended and the Pistons returned to familiar form on Tuesday night in a crucial game against the team they're chasing in the Eastern Conference standings. Familiar form, unfortunately, means Josh Smith chucking (17) shots and lackluster team defense, and thus, the opponent ripping up the nets. Charlotte hit their first seven shots from the field and 64 percent of their overall field goal tries in the first quarter, which helped them to an 11-point advantage going into the second. The Pistons never led in the game.

The Pistons did build off a 9-2 run to end the third and eventually pulled within eight in the fourth after a Brandon Jennings triple around the five-minute mark, but Josh McRoberts rattled in his third three of the game on the other side 20 seconds later, taking the wind out of any come-back sail and blowing it through McRoberts' greasy hair.

What stood out:

Even when the Pistons played pretty good defense, the Bobcats hit difficult shots.  Credit goes to the Bobcats there, and for the fact they often made the extra pass necessary to otherwise get open looks. They had 25 assists on their 39 baskets and many of the extra passes led to what would have been easy baskets if not for Pistons fouls. The Bobcats had 37 free-throw attempts in the game (the Pistons had 23).

Who stood out:

-- Al Jefferson again. Similar to his Dec. 21 performance, Jefferson bullied the Pistons front court, particularly Greg Monroe. Jefferson finished with 32 points, eight straight coming in the final three minutes to ice the game. After one of those late buckets, which was defended well, Andre Drummond reacted in a way that we can all relate:

Paul-rudd

-- Drummond tied a career high with 22 rebounds and recorded his 40th double-double of the season.

Bullets:

-- Drummond sat on McRoberts' face for his fifth foul of the game. Worth it.

-- Moose had a monster block on rook Cody Zeller. It was Monroe's second block in his last 26 games.

GIF: Pistons' Greg Monroe levels Bobcats' Cody Zell... on Twitpic

-- Rodney Stuckey returned from dizziness and shot a dizzying 1-for-11.

-- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had what's termed a 10 trillion stat line. 10 minutes and all zeros after that. I'd at least foul someone or kick a ball off my foot in 10 minutes of action.

-- Brandon Jennings was good on offense (24 and 7), but his defense continues to cause problems.

-- The front court had double-doubles, the third time that has happened this season. The previous two were in back-to-back games.

-- Good coincidence? Pistons lost by 14 after the All-Star break last year and then beat the Bobcats in Charlotte the next night, also a Wednesday.

-- Box Score

-- Roll Call:

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