NEW YORK - Brook Lopez scored 20 points in just 21 minutes, leading the playoff-bound Brooklyn Nets to a 103-99 victory over the Detroit Pistons in what was basically a tune-up for the upcoming Eastern Conference playoffs.
Brooklyn improved to 49-33 with the victory. It marks the franchise's best win total since winning 49 in 2005-06 and tied the team's mark for the second-most wins in a single season. The Nets, the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, are headed to the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2006-07.
The Nets will face the fifth-seeded Chicago Bulls in the opening round of the playoffs this weekend. The date and time of the first contest in the best-of-seven series has not yet been determined by the NBA.
The win also gave interim coach P.J. Carlesimo a 35-19 record since taking over for Avery Johnson in December, the best start of any coach in franchise history. It also gave the Nets a 31-5 record this season against teams with a record below .500.
It was a game where Carlesimo got his starters some playing time after six players, including the team's top three scorers, sat out the win over Washington on Monday. Carlesimo wanted to get his starters about 20 minutes of action, and basically that's what the starters like Lopez, Joe Johnson (10 points) and Deron Williams (eight points, six assists) got. All three played 21 minutes for the winners.
Andray Blatche scored 15 points and Kris Humphries 11 for the Nets.
With 23 points off the bench, Will Bynum paced the Pistons, who finished the season with a 29-53 record. Andre Drummond added 13 for Detroit.
The Nets took the lead for good in the closing minutes of the first quarter, going on a 16-2 run to take a 29-18 lead after one period. Lopez had 10 points in the first quarter and Gerald Wallace provided a little bit of everything, scoring two baskets on dunks, collecting three rebounds and two assists, all in the final four minutes.
The Pistons made a bit of a run and sliced the lead to 52-45 with 2:08 remaining in the half, but Mirza Teletovic made his presence felt, draining two long 3-pointers and hitting a mid-range jumper that pushed the lead back into double digits. Teletovic scored all eight of his points of the first half in just a span of six minutes.
The Nets led 60-48 at the half. Johnson nailed two consecutive long 3-pointers, the second from 27 feet, to push the lead to 72-54 with 7:54 remaining in the period.
The Nets led by as many as 21 in the third quarter as they were in complete command.
The Pistons cut the lead to 103-99 with a late 11-0 run. Kim English made one of two free throws with 44 seconds left to give the Pistons a chance, but a missed free throw and turnover hurt the cause. Teletovic made a huge block in the closing seconds to secure the win.
NOTES: Evans finished sixth in the NBA in rebounding with 11.1 boards per game. ... Deron Williams finished the season fifth in the NBA in assists at 7.8 per game. ... Pistons C Andre Drummond and Nets rebound machine Reggie Evans were embroiled in a bit of a scrum and each received a technical foul. ... The Pistons, who were relegated to the role of spoiler, finished strong, winning four straight prior to their season finale Wednesday. ... The Pistons played without guard Jose Calderon (triceps) and forward Jason Maxiella (detached retina). ... The entire Nets roster was dressed and ready for action.