Pistons hand Nets fifth straight loss
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - The Detroit Pistons know how to score inside, and they added the support of a balanced attack to record a 109-97 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday afternoon.
The victory ended the Pistons’ two-game winning streak.
“It feels good to finally get a win,” Pistons guard Brandon Jennings said. “But we need to be a little more consistent if we want to be a good team in the NBA as far as winning games when we need to win them.”
The Nets, who lost their fifth straight game, again played without starters Brook Lopez and Deron Williams, who have sprained left ankles, and key reserves Andrei Kirilenko (back spasms) and Jason Terry (bruised left knee).
The Nets built a 10-point lead in the second quarter, but Brooklyn (3-10) was outscored 34-15 in the third. Twenty of the Pistons points in that quarter came in the paint.
Detroit’s interior offense ranks second in the league, averaging 50.3 points per game in the paint. On Saturday afternoon, the Pistons scored 56 points from close range.
“We tried to get the ball inside and let those guys play,” Pistons head coach Maurice Cheeks said. “When we have some outside shooting, it helps even more.”
Guard Rodney Stuckey helped seal the win for the Pistons, scoring 17 of his season-high 27 points in the fourth quarter as he scored from all parts of the floor.
“I‘m just trying to be that energy guy off the bench,” Stuckey said. “They rely on me to score baskets and that’s what I have to do. I‘m willing to do it. It’s the flow of the game, I made a couple of shots and it was playing through me.”
A 15-4 run from the Pistons (5-8) to start the third quarter wiped away the Nets’ seven-point halftime lead. The Nets’ sloppy play led to Brooklyn’s mounting frustration with its play coming out of halftime.
“It’s something we’re obviously going to have to address,” Nets forward Kevin Garnett said. “We’ve got to be the worst team in the league when it comes to third quarters, just unacceptable. As players, we have to be accountable, including myself, and come out and do whatever it is that we got to do and apply it.”
Garnett scored four points on 2-of-9 shooting.
Meanwhile, Jennings scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half while adding 10 assists.
“That’s the mark of a good player,” Cheeks said. “He didn’t rely on his offense as the main focal point of this game. The way he ran this team was very instrumental.”
Nets guard Joe Johnson led all scorers with 34 points on 11-of-15 shooting. It is the first time this season he scored over 20.
But Johnson did not get much offensive support from his teammates. The next leading scorer was forward Paul Pierce with 19. Center Andray Blatche was the only other Nets player in double figures with 10 points.
“I tried to be a little bit more aggressive,” Johnson said. “We’ve done a lot of talking about this, but it’s not translating into a win.”
Pistons forward Greg Monroe and center Andre Drummond quickly showed that they were able to muscle their way to the basket. Monroe scored 18 points with 10 rebounds, and Drummond, who leads the NBA in field goal percentage, finished with nine on 4-of-6 shooting.
Five Pistons scored in double figures as a balanced offensive attack carried Detroit. In the third quarter, each of the nine players who appeared on the floor scored. Forwards Josh Smith and Kyle Singler added 13 and 11, respectively.
“Whenever you can get multiple contributions...it’s always big,” Smith said. “Some nights it is going to take a little time for the starters to get it going, but those guys coming off the bench is such a threat for this basketball team.”
Brooklyn was able to shake off a poor shooting first quarter with the help of its bench. Seven straight points from guard/forward Alan Anderson to start the second quarter kept the Nets with Detroit until their starters managed to take over.
Johnson scored 13 points in the second quarter, hitting all five of his attempts to help the Nets build the 10-point lead. The Nets went from shooting 7-of-22 in the first quarter to 13-of-17 in the second.
“I think we all are disappointed,” Nets head coach Jason Kidd said. “The third quarter is something that stands out right now that we got to get better at, coaches and players. We’re not getting good looks; we just can’t finish the play.”
NOTES: Pistons G Will Bynum and G Chauncey Billups are day-to-day did not play. ... Pistons C Andre Drummond leads the NBA by shooting 66.4 percent and ranks fourth with 12.3 rebounds per game. ... After scoring 23 points in Monday’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, Nets G Shaun Livingston, starting for Deron Williams, scored just three points in his next two games.