Pistons 110, Nets 105
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP)—If the New Jersey Nets miss the playoffs, they know much of the blame will lie with their late-game defense.
The Nets allowed 65 second-half points Friday night, including 39 in the fourth quarter, and lost 110-105 to the Detroit Pistons.
“You can’t give anyone 39 points in the fourth quarter in this league, much less the Pistons,” Jason Kidd said. “They were aggressive and we didn’t stop them.”
The loss, combined with Orlando’s victory, dropped the Nets into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We’ve got 10 games to go,” New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank said. “We’re scoring enough points. If we can find a way to get some stops, we’ll be OK, but that’s been an issue all season.”
Chauncey Billups, Lindsey Hunter and Antonio McDyess keyed Detroit’s late surge, combining for 30 fourth-quarter points. Hunter and McDyess combined to make eight of 11 shots, including three 3-pointers by Hunter, and Billups went 8-for-8 from the line.
“I’m surprised, I was pretty fatigued tonight, but the shot felt good,” said McDyess, who went 7-for-7 from the floor. “It seemed like every time I touched the ball, it went in.”
The Pistons set season highs for points in a half, points in a quarter, and 3-pointers in a game (12).
“Everyone knows that when we’re down, we aren’t out,” said Billups, who finished with 32 points and 14 assists. “We always have that fight in us, and we are able to get back in games.”
“With those two guys down, I had to step up and be more aggressive,” he said. “I took that responsibility on, and tried to step it up.”
Tayshaun Prince flirted with a triple-double for Detroit, finishing with 15 points, a career-high nine assists and eight rebounds.
The Nets started quickly, jumping out to a 12-2 lead, but couldn’t sustain the pressure. The Pistons scored the next 11 points, setting up a back-and-forth first half.
Detroit led 45-43 at the break, but the Nets started the second half as quickly as they began the game, jumping to a 67-57 lead late in the third.
The Pistons narrowed the gap to 76-71 by period’s end, and a pair of 3-pointers by Hunter kept them in the game.
Another 3 by Hunter tied the score at 91 with 6:10 left, and McDyess scored eight points in the next five minutes to keep Detroit in front.
“We’ve been burying ourselves and then getting back,” Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. “I didn’t know if we had enough energy. I knew we’d get back in it, but I didn’t know if we had enough left to win the game.”
Prince’s jumper put the Pistons up 105-99, but the Nets came back when Bostjan Nachbar answered with a 3-pointer and a free throw from Boone to get within two with 17 seconds remaining.
Wallace split a pair of free throws, but Carter badly missed on a game-tying 3-pointer and Billups clinched the game from the line.
“I had a good look,” Carter said. “It just came up short.”
Hamilton missed his fourth straight game since catching the flu, and Webber had just six points and seven rebounds after sitting out a pair of games with the same ailment. … Carter led the Nets with 11 first-half points despite missing several minutes after injuring his right knee. “I’m not sure what happened—I guess I banged knees with someone,” he said. “If I can walk, I’ll play.” … Detroit swept the four-game season series with New Jersey, the first time it managed that since 2000-01.