Erratic Pistons fall below .500 after loss to woeful Nets

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

New York — In the big scheme of things, the Pistons don't care about style points — wins are wins.

But losses are also losses.

As they've done in several games this year, the Pistons have shown that they can win ugly games, without shooting well and just getting defensive stops when they need them.

But they've also lost their share of ugly losses.

Add another to the list.

After another subpar offensive performance, the Pistons squandered another double-digit lead and fell to the Brooklyn Nets, 87-83, on Sunday night at Barclays Center. With the loss, the Pistons (8-9) fell below .500 for the first time this season, after a 5-1 start.

BOX SCORE: Nets 87, Pistons 83

"What it really came down to is we were mentally very weak tonight. We got very frustrated missing shots, thinking we're getting fouled that affected our defense," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We took several bad shots in the fourth quarter just trying to draw fouls instead of trying to get good shots.

"I just didn't think we played very smart, poised basketball — and that was very disappointing."

The Pistons shot 34-of-101 in the game — including a miserable 29 percent in the fourth quarter — and struggled throughout the game to find good shots.

Andre Drummond had 20 points and 18 rebounds and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 21 points and a season-high seven rebounds for the Pistons.

The shot selection was erratic, replete with airballs and rushed, off-balance shot attempts. Point guard Reggie Jackson, who was 4-of-20, pointed to passing up good shots for harder shots as one of the culprits — but frustration is starting to set in.

"We've got to do our jobs. We're passing up too many open looks. Everybody needs to know their role and do their role," Jackson said. "(It's frustrating) a little bit, but shoot your shot — that's the name of the game.

"You can't pass up open looks. It's hard to get one open look, so when you pass up your shot, it's hard to get the second open look. That's part of our problem."

The Pistons trailed, 84-83, with 29.8 seconds left, after Brook Lopez (15 points, nine rebounds) got an offensive board and was fouled. He split the pair of free throws but Caldwell-Pope missed a long 3-point attempt.

After Jarred Jack made a pair of free throws, Jackson missed a long 3-pointer and the Nets put it away after Thaddeus Young split another pair of free throws.

The Pistons made 9 of 21 free throws in the game, including 2-of-11 by Drummond.

"Everybody was trying to get to the free-throw line and just taking bad, bad shots," Van Gundy said. "When you go 9-for-21 at the free-throw line, it's not going to help you a whole lot, either. If we shoot 60 percent at the free-throw line, we win that game."

The Pistons were in control in the third quarter, moving ahead, 58-48, after a triple from Caldwell-Pope with 5:19 left. But the Nets rallied with a 7-0 stretch, after Wayne Ellington (12 points) hit a triple and Bojan Bogdanovic had back-to-back baskets.

The Pistons pushed the lead back to 67-59 after a jumper from Steve Blake and two free throws by Caldwell-Pope.

Ellington started the fourth quarter with a jumper and a three-point play, and hit another jumper after a basket by Stanley Johnson, to cut the deficit to three. The Nets tied it after another flurry, with Lopez hitting two baskets and Young (19 points) adding a layin to tie it at 74 at the 6:01 mark.

"It's really interesting how the league is. Last night, we played great and we lost (to the Cavs)," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. "Tonight, we were very inconsistent and we had maybe an eight- or nine-minute stretch of playing well, and we come away with a win."

The Nets moved ahead, 81-76, after an 11-2 run, with seven straight points — a jumper by Lopez, a triple from Shane Larkin and a jumper by Young.

The Pistons started the game 2-of-10 from the field but got untracked with a 6-0 run, with a dunk by Caldwell-Pope, a putback by Ersan Ilyasova and another jumper by Caldwell-Pope.

They finished the quarter on a 6-2 spurt, as Drummond finished with a dunk off a nice pass from Blake and led, 22-18.