EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)—The Detroit Pistons have become used to absorbing everyone else’s best shot as they’ve piled up win after win on the road this season. What they’re not accustomed to is missing so many of their own shots.
Detroit had its NBA-best 11-game winning streak snapped by New Jersey 91-84 Tuesday night as Jason Kidd had 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Nets (23-20) and hit a big 3-pointer in the final minute.
The Pistons (37-6) were led by Chauncey Billups’ 30 points, but shot poorly throughout the game and were outworked by the Nets, who were coming off an 0-4 West Coast trip and wound up extending their home winning streak to nine games.
“We’ve won 22 of our last 24. You play 82 games, and you don’t like to say you didn’t have it, but we didn’t have it tonight,” said Detroit coach Flip Saunders. “We didn’t capitalize on our opportunities down the stretch.”
Despite shooting 37 percent from the floor, nine percentage points below their average, the Pistons still had a chance to take the lead late in the game after trailing since early in the third quarter.
The last of Billups’ 6 3-pointers pulled them to within a point at 85-84 moments after Kidd had fed Vince Carter for an alley-oop slam with 2:04 left. On New Jersey’s next possession, Nenad Krstic fumbled the ball out of bounds, but Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince was called for an offensive foul at the other end and Kidd buried a 3-pointer to make it 88-84.
“That same shot in Portland doesn’t go in,” Kidd said, referring to the Nets’ 88-83 loss last Saturday in which they rallied from a 20-point deficit before losing. “This one does, and we win. That’s how funny this game is.”
Rasheed Wallace and Richard Hamilton, who average 37 points between them for Detroit, both suffered through bad shooting nights and never found their groove. Hamilton scored 19 points but was 8-for-24 from the field, and Wallace scored 9 points on 3-for-14 shooting, including 1-for-11 from 3-point range.
That left it up to Billups, who was perfect from 3-point range but couldn’t do it all by himself as the Nets played their best defensive game after porous efforts in losses to Seattle, Portland and the Los Angeles Clippers.
“You have to tip your hat to Chauncey Billups who makes unbelievable shots, but the thing that stood out was we defended for 48 minutes,” said Nets coach Lawrence Frank. “We were happy to beat such a good team, but at the same time we realize it’s just one game.”
The Pistons, who last lost on Jan. 7 against Utah, won’t have much time to reflect on the loss as they face Minnesota at home Wednesday night.
“We take nothing from this,” said Billups. “We’re lucky that we’ve got a game tomorrow so we don’t have to sit too long on it. It’ll give us a chance to start a new streak at home.”
The Nets improved to 22-0 when leading after three quarters. … New Jersey’s nine-game home win streak is tied for the third-longest in franchise history. The 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 teams each had 13-game streaks and the 2003-2004 team won 9 in a row. … Detroit began the evening as one of two Eastern Conference teams with a winning record at home and on the road. Miami was the other. San Antonio, Dallas and Phoenix own the distinction in the West. … With a win, Detroit would have come within a victory of matching the franchise-record 13-game streak set in 1989-90 and equaled in 2003-2004. The Pistons also would have finished 14-1 in January, their best record ever for that month.