Only in the Eastern Conference can a February matchup between a 23-30 and a 22-30 team come with playoff implications. In both the Bobcats' and Pistons' first games after the break, each team would be looking to seize the opportunity to solidify or leap frog the other in the standings to claim sole possession of the eighth seed. With so much at stake Tuesday night's contest gave both teams much incentive to come out of the gates swinging.

The Bobcats came out focused off their five-day break, making five of their first six shots and built an early 13-6 lead. Detroit, on the other hand, gave the Bobcats plenty opportunities to work with. Whether indicative of the Bobcats' defensive scheme or their players innate shot selection instincts, the Pistons missed several midrange jumpers that the Bobcats were able to rebound to control the game. On the other end, they would turn those defensive rebounds into fouls and eventually finished with a 32-19 advantage after one.

A big reason for the Bobcats' success early was the play of Al Jefferson in the post. Jefferson showed a willingness to pass against the Pistons assertive frontcourt of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Yes, Jefferson still got his looks, but he always kept an eye for the cutting teammate to prevent the defense from zeroing in on him. Jefferson finished with 12 points, six rebounds and three assists while the Bobcats' other starters added 13 assists. Charlotte led at the half, 54-43, without the home team ever really challenging them.