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Pistons-Nets Preview

AP - Sports

The New Jersey Nets and Detroit Pistons have gone in opposite directions since they met last Wednesday.

The Pistons have won consecutive games for the first time in a month while the Nets have lost three in a row heading into Wednesday night's opener of a home-and-home set at the Prudential Center.

New Jersey (8-18) won 99-96 at home over Detroit (6-20) last Wednesday. The Pistons lost their seventh straight on the road, falling to 1-12 away from Auburn Hills.

Detroit returned home and won two straight, with Greg Monroe averaging 21.0 points and 13.5 rebounds in those contests. Monroe has double-doubles in seven of his last eight games, only missing out when he had 21 points and eight boards in last week's loss to the Nets.

The second-year center will be averaging a double-double if he gets 13 rebounds Wednesday. His 16.3 points per game and 9.9 boards are major improvements from his rookie season.

"He wants to be a really special player, yet the thing that's amazing is unbelievable upside and growth," coach Lawrence Frank told the Pistons' official website. "He literally is just scratching it. There's so much more to come."

New Jersey has not won since beating Detroit, falling 108-87 at home to Chicago on Monday. The Nets trailed 35-14 after one quarter, and have been outscored by an average of 4.9 points in the opening period this season.

"Because we don't have much margin for error, we can't start out games like we did tonight," coach Avery Johnson said. "The first quarter has been a sore thumb for us, and we gotta do a better job, especially in the first quarter."

Deron Williams led New Jersey with 25 points against the Bulls, but was limited to five assists after amassing 25 over his previous two games.

Johnson talked about having a lengthy film session to help his club fix its numerous problems.

"We can't turn the ball over," Johnson said. "We gotta cover for each other. We gotta set good screens. We can't give up a lot of offensive rebounds. We gotta communicate in transition. We gotta know what plays we're running and where to be.

"So again, that's the real deal. There's really no rocket science to it."

Williams had 26 points and nine assists in last week's matchup with Detroit rookie Brandon Knight, who had 15 and four.

Knight broke his nose in the first quarter of Saturday's 89-87 win over New Orleans and did not return. If he plays Wednesday, he will wear a mask.

Frank, who coached the Nets from 2004-09, was ecstatic that he was able to hold his fourth and fifth practice sessions of the last 30 days this week. Saturday's game marked the end of a stretch in which the Pistons played seven times in nine days.

Ben Gordon and Will Bynum returned to practice this week, although it's unclear if either will play Wednesday. Gordon has been out the last 10 games with a sore left shoulder while Bynum has missed 14 in a row with a strained right foot tendon.

The home team has won the last seven meetings between these clubs. The rematch is Friday in Auburn Hills.

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