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Pistons lose game, season series to 76ers

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Philadelphia — Maybe momentum is only as good as the next game's opponent.

With their 10-game losing streak in the rear view mirror following Tuesday's surprising home victory over the Grizzlies, the Pistons tried to start their first win streak in almost three weeks, against the struggling 76ers, who entered with the third-worst record in the league.

The Pistons execution wasn't close to that of Tuesday night, as the offense stalled in the first half and they never recovered in the second half, falling to the 76ers, 94-83, on Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center.

Reggie Jackson followed his 23-point, 20-assist performance of Tuesday with a triple-double — 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

Since their back-to-back home victories over the Bulls and Wizards on Feb. 22, the Pistons haven't won two straight games, and last won on the road Feb. 10.

The 76ers defense feasted on 18 Pistons turnovers — 13 in the first half — and stymied them behind Nerlens Noel and Thomas Robinson patrolling the paint area, finishing with three blocks each.

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy was visibly frustrated by his team's lack of execution, especially since the game plan included countering the 76ers' defensive aggressiveness.

"It's terrible and it was a thing we made a huge point about," Van Gundy said. "We knew they were going for steals all the time; we knew if we drove in the paint, everybody would come to block and there would be people open — and we didn't do a damned thing about it."

Even with the back-to-back games, the effort from the Pistons wasn't as poor as their forcing shots in the paint, with the 76ers collapsing around drives to the basket.

"We struggled and never got anything going on the offensive end," said Anthony Tolliver, who got his second straight start after Greg Monroe missed the game with a strained right knee. "We didn't put out the same amount of effort that we did last night. The ball was sticking a lot more than it was last night and we weren't making the extra pass as much.

"It got contagious and came one after another.

"When you play like that, it makes it very hard to get any type of rhythm going as a team and that was the result tonight."

The 76ers, who won three of the four meetings over the Pistons this season, used a 9-2 spurt to take a 24-21 lead at the end of the quarter — and never trailed again.

That run began a decisive 20-9 stretch, for the 76ers. Robinson led the effort, scoring 10 of his 12 during the string, for a 35-28 advantage.

The Pistons shot 33 percent (14-for-42) in the first half and after a 3-pointer from Jason Richardson (14 points) with 3:01 left in the half, the lead got to 12. Anthony Tolliver hit a 3-pointer with under a minute remaining to get the deficit under double digits, but Ish Smith (15 points, eight assists) hit a floater in the lane to make it 49-39 at halftime.

Even though the Pistons stayed close, they were never able to get the decisive shot to get them closer than three.

"It's not the defense is forcing us into bad shots. It's one pass and one shot. We have to continue to move the ball and get better at moving the ball," said Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who had 20 points and eight rebounds. "When we drive, we have to kick it and find the open person and knock down shots."

In the third quarter, the Pistons chipped away at the lead, with a Jodie Meeks 3-pointer cutting the deficit to 67-59. His lay-up with 16.6 seconds left got the Pistons within 68-65 at the end of the third quarter but the 76ers had an answer.

"We just kept making the same mistakes," Van Gundy said.

The 76ers started the fourth with another 8-2 spurt to put the game away, as the Pistons managed just two field goals in the first 10 minutes.

"It's like Jekyll and Hyde. Effort, for the most part, most of these nights — even when we've been losing — we've been playing hard," said Tolliver, who had nine points and five rebounds in 33 minutes. "It's just we haven't been playing intelligently and whenever you don't play smart, it becomes contagious and can spiral out of control.

"Tonight was another one of those nights that we put out effort but didn't play smart enough to get the win."

Andre Drummond finished with nine points and 14 rebounds.

Noel (11 points) suffered a right-foot contusion and left the game in the third quarter.

rod.beard@detroitnews.com

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