Pistons win first of season despite Rodney Stuckey benching

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- John Kuester was running out of ideas to fix a Detroit Pistons season that was quickly falling apart.

On Friday night, found one that worked.

Kuester benched rebellious guard Rodney Stuckey, started Tracy McGrady at the point and watched the Pistons win their first of the season, 97-90 over the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night.

"I'm happy for the organization, but mostly I'm happy for the players," Kuester said. "Obviously, this has been a tough way to start the season, but these guys have kept playing hard."

The Pistons avoided their first 0-6 start since 1980, while the Bobcats fell to 1-4.

Stuckey was in uniform, but did not play after being pulled from Wednesday's loss in Atlanta for ignoring Kuester during a stoppage in play. Although reserve point guard Will Bynum returned from a hamstring injury, Detroit went with McGrady in the starting lineup, and he finished with 10 points, three rebounds and two assists.

"T-Mac was unbelievable out there," said Charlie Villanueva. "He did exactly what you need your point guard to do."

McGrady, though, wasn't surprised with his performance.

"I've played my fair share of the point over the years," he said. "I'm a playmaker -- that's my game. It's not that hard to get a team into its sets and to distribute the ball."

Kuester, who also was criticized by Tayshaun Prince earlier in the week, called a team meeting to address the apparent discord after the loss to the Hawks.

"We still haven't put together 48 good minutes, but it feels good to play well enough to win a game," Prince said.

Richard Hamilton added 16 points for Detroit after missing a pair of games with a sore foot.

Stephen Jackson led Charlotte with 28 points, but no one else scored more than 13.

"This was Stephen's best game of the season by far," Charlotte coach Larry Brown said. "He played great on both ends of the floor."

The Pistons led by 22 in the first half, and still were up 55-39 at the intermission.

"Getting down 20 against any team on the road takes too much to come back," Jackson said. "There is no reason for us to come with that kind of effort, ever. We have to be ready to play."

Charlotte, though, held Detroit to just six points in the first 10 minutes of the third to pull within one.

Villanueva hit a pair of late 3-pointers to help Detroit take a 72-64 edge into the fourth. The Bobcats got as close as three in the last two minutes, but Hamilton clinched the game with a three-point play with 1:05 left.

"We needed some energy right there, and those two shots really helped," Villanueva said. "Those were huge."

Game notes
Kuester said after the game that Stuckey would be available for Sunday's game against Golden State. Stuckey refused comment before the game and had left the locker room before the media was allowed in afterward. ... Kuester and Brown -- long-time friends -- had dinner together on Saturday night. "There aren't many times you are going to break bread with the other coach, but this was one of them," Kuester said. "There's a lot of love there." ... Jackson and Brown both picked up second-half technicals for arguing calls. ... Nazr Mohammed started for Charlotte, but did not play in the second half.