Pistons hand last-place Nets fifth straight loss
Posted at: 11/24/2013 6:05 PM
By BRIAN MAHONEY
(AP) NEW YORK - They are the NBA’s most expensive team, filled with All-Stars and the belief they can contend for a championship.
Here’s what else the Brooklyn Nets are at the moment: a last-place disappointment.
"Tough times right now," forward Kevin Garnett said.
They got tougher Sunday, when reserve Rodney Stuckey scored a season-high 27 points in the Detroit Pistons’ 109-97 victory that sent the Nets to a fifth straight loss and sole possession of the Atlantic Division basement.
The Nets, with their enormous payroll and enormous expectations, fell to 3-10, a half-game behind the New York Knicks, and were hearing boos at Barclays Center in the second half.
"The ball’s just bouncing the opponent’s way right now and we’ve just got to stay together," coach Jason Kidd said.
Greg Monroe had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Pistons, who bounced back from consecutive losses to Atlanta. Brandon Jennings added 14 points and 10 assists, making all 10 free throws to make up for a 2-for-10 shooting performance.
"Road wins are hard to get and any time you get a road win it’s huge," Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks said.
Joe Johnson made eight 3-pointers and scored a season-high 34 points, but the short-handed Nets couldn’t overcome another cold night from Paul Pierce and Garnett, who were a combined 7 for 22.
Pierce finished with 19 points, but was 5 of 13 after making his last two when the game was long since decided. Garnett shot 2 of 9 for four points.
The Nets again played without starters Brook Lopez and Deron Williams, who have sprained left ankles, and top reserves Andrei Kirilenko (back spasms) and Jason Terry (bruised left knee).
"It’s tough when look at the record, 3-10, 3-11, whatever our record is, and know we’ve dug ourselves quite a big hole, no matter if we’ve got the injuries or not," Pierce said. "We still feel like we’re talented enough to win these type of games."
They played a strong first half but were undone again by a miserable third quarter, as they have in all 10 losses.
The Nets had been outscored by 77 points (8.6 per game) in the third quarters of their first nine losses and they were even worse in this one, getting clobbered 34-15.
"We have to be worst team in the league when it comes to third quarters and that’s not acceptable," Garnett said.
Leading by seven at halftime, Brooklyn needed less than 4 minutes to fall behind by four after Detroit came out of the locker room with a 15-4 spurt. Then, leading by one midway through the period, the Pistons outscored the Nets 17-6 to close the quarter and take a 78-66 advantage to the fourth.
Stuckey kept the Nets at bay from there, scoring 17 in the fourth. He came in leading all Eastern Conference reserves with 14.8 points per game and helped the Pistons overcome 4-for-20 shooting from starting guards Jennings and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
"I’m just trying to come in and just be that energy guy that we need off the bench," Stuckey said. "Just bring energy and whatever my teammates need me to do. They rely on me to score some baskets. That’s what I’ve got to do."
Meanwhile, the team with the payroll of around $180 million after luxury taxes went with the likes of Mason Plumlee and Mirza Teletovic for much of the fourth quarter before Kidd finally went back to Pierce and Garnett with about 4 minutes left.
Brooklyn cut a 16-point deficit to 96-91 after consecutive 3-pointers by Johnson, but Stuckey banked in a jumper, and Monroe followed Johnson’s free throw with a dunk to push the lead to 100-92 with 2:18 to play.
Nets players made the first four baskets, though the last of those counted for the Pistons when Andray Blatche tipped it into his own hoop. Detroit led 23-19 after one quarter.
But Johnson hit all five shots and scored 13 points in the second, when Brooklyn made 13 of 17 (76.5 percent). A 3-pointer from Pierce and two from Johnson led the Nets on a 16-5 surge that turned a one-point deficit into a 51-41 lead.
NOTES: Detroit’s Andre Drummond finished with nine points and 10 rebounds, ending his streak of seven straight double-doubles. He was 1 of 4 after the Nets resorted to intentionally fouling him in the fourth quarter. ... Garnett tied Hall of Famer Gary Payton for ninth on the NBA’s career list with his 1,335th game.
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(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)