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The Detroit Pistons had lost three straight following a 4-game win streak. Back at home, hosting a Brooklyn Nets team that had won three straight, was the challenge the Pistons faced on Friday night.
The game didn’t start off pretty for Detroit after Alan Anderson started it with a jumper, Deron Williams hit a 3, and then Williams found Anderson for a 3 and a 9-2 lead. Joe Johnson hit a 3 to give Brooklyn a 14-6 lead before the Pistons answered.
Greg Monroe had a layup, a hook shot, a layup, found Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for a triple, and had another layup to bring the Pistons to within 18-17. Rodney Stuckey finished the quarter with a tough layup and the Pistons trailed 24-23 after one.
In the second, Stuckey and Andre Drummond took over. Stuckey took Williams and Anderson off the dribble as the guards couldn’t stay in front of Stuckey. Then, when the Nets made an adjustment, Stuckey responded by knocking down jump shots. He was making step backs, wide open jumpers, and contested jumpers. Then it was Drummond’s turn to see what he can do.
With the Pistons leading 48-39, Drummond somehow tipped in a Brandon Jennings miss. Drummond tipped it with 1-hand over his head and it bounced in. Then Drummond had a hook shot, knocked down TWO flagrant foul free throws, and threw down a lob pass from Stuckey for a 59-43 lead. Drummond knocked down two more free throws to help give the Pistons a 61-44 halftime lead. Drummond had 16 in the quarter and Stuckey had 14.
The third quarter started with a Josh Smith jumper followed by a Greg Monroe layup for a 65-44 lead. Drummond had a slam and then Smith found Caldwell-Pope for a 3 and then found Monroe for a layup and a 72-55 lead. Brooklyn hung around after Mirza Teletovic hit a 3 to bring the Nets to within 76-64; but Detroit answered as a Monroe finished at the rim, Kyle Singler had an And-1, and Smith finished over Kevin Garnett and an 83-66 lead. The Pistons led 86-68 after three quarters.
Smith found Singler for a triple and then found him again for a jumper and a 91-70 lead. The Nets then began a comeback.
Paul Pierce hit a 3, Teletovic hit a 3, Williams had a layup, and the Teletovic hit another triple to bring the Nets to within 91-81 with 9:09 left. Andray Blatche had a layup to make it a 92-83 lead.
Jennings gave Detroit a 12 point lead on a layup and Monroe had a hook shot for a 98-86 lead with 5:33 left. The Nets answered as Teletovic hit another 3 and Blatche had a tip in to make it a 98-93 game with 2:54 left.
The Pistons’ shot selection was horrible down the stretch as Jennings was playing hero ball, not moving the ball and taking shots with the shot clock winding down. The Pistons’ defense tightened up to not let the Nets get any closer. Monroe the had a hook shot for a 100-93 with 54 seconds left. Game over, right? No, not with this team.
Jennings fouled Williams on a 3 with Williams making all 3 to make it 100-96. Then Smith was called for a charge, then Williams came down looking for a layup but he lost the ball off his foot out of bounds to Detroit. The Pistons caught a break as it appeared that Jennings had fouled him.
Chauncey Billups came in for Smith to get a free throw shooter on the floor. Singler tried to get it in to Billups but the Nets wouldn’t let him. Instead, Monroe got the ball and could only hit 1/2 to make it 101-96. Pierce came down for the Nets and hit a step back 3 to make it 101-99 with 10.8 seconds left. Billups threw it in to Singler and Singler made both. Johnson missed a 3 for the Nets, Monroe grabbed the rebound, and the Pistons escaped with a 103-99 win.
Drummond led the way with 22 points and 13 rebounds, Monroe had 22 and 11, Stuckey had 17, and Singler had 16.
Smith and Jennings combined for 6/27 shooting. Smith had 10 points, six rebounds, and six assists and his defense wasn’t bad. He did other things to make up for his poor shooting night of 3/13. Jennings? He just looked frustrated that the offense wasn’t running through him. Jennings was 3/14 shooting and only had four assists in 35 minutes. Billups had five assists coming off the bench and playing 13 minutes. I’m just going to put this one in the bad night category for Jennings.
The Pistons won the rebounding battle 43-38 and had 60 points in the paint. Drummond and Monroe took full advantage of the fact that the Nets were missing Brook Lopez. This was a good win. The Nets had won three straight while the Pistons had lost three straight. It was good to bounce back. However, down the stretch they were playing not to lose rather than playing to win. They need to keep the pedal to the metal and not let opponents creep back into games.
The best the western conference has to offer, the Portland Trail Blazers, visit the Palace on Sunday night.