The Pistons fell, 103-75, and lost the season series to the Nets. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
New York — Dwane Casey balked at the idea of calling this week’s matchups against the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat must-win games. With another month of games left, there’s still plenty of season left, but with games against the two teams behind them in the standings, the week does have some importance.
It didn’t look like it from their performance.
The Pistons shot poorly from the start and never got into a groove on either end of the court. The Nets took advantage and finished the second quarter with a 28-8 surge, putting the game away early, en route to a 103-75 victory on Monday night at Barclays Center.
The loss ended the Pistons’ five-game win streak and the Nets (36-33) leapfrogged them into sixth place in the East playoff race. More importantly, it gave Brooklyn the season tiebreaker, winning two of the three head-to-head meetings this season.
“With the physicality of the game, they came in and whipped us every which way there was,” coach Dwane Casey said. “We didn’t show any physicality whatsoever. One day you’re the pigeon and one day you’re the statue — and definitely today, we were the statue.”
Andre Drummond had 13 points, 20 rebounds and three assists and Blake Griffin 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Pistons (34-32), who still are three games ahead of the Heat, whom they face on Wednesday.
Griffin said the loss, although disappointing, likely won’t carry over into the rest of the big games this week.
“We’ve played too good for a while now to let one game affect us,” Griffin said. “We have to shake this off and get ready to play in Miami, because it’s going to be the same thing.”
The Pistons took an early lead on a putback by Drummond and a floater by Reggie Jackson but Rodions Kurucs (13 points) got free for a dunk and D’Angelo Russell (11 points and seven assists) added a jumper. Kurucs scored the next two baskets, part of a 14-4 spurt that pushed the lead to 18-9 at the 5:34 mark.
Kurucs defended Blake Griffin, who was just 1-of-10 from the field and couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm.
“We wanted to deny and limit his touches. That was the game plan and (Kurucs) did a great job,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We didn’t ask him to steal the ball the way he did; we just told him to deny Blake and limit his touches.
“He anticipated well, really got in the passing lanes and threw off their timing. It was all about activity.”
The Pistons pulled within eight after a put-back dunk by Thon Maker to end the first. The Nets got another 6-0 run, with a tip-in by Russell and a drive by Caris LeVert (12 points).
Former Piston Spencer Dinwiddie got going in the third quarter, scoring seven of his 19 points in the period. The Nets allowed their fewest points of the season, holding the Pistons to 28 percent shooting.
“Everything kind of aligned tonight. I thought the game plan was good and the guys executed well, especially defensively,” Atkinson said. “Detroit was coming off a game (Sunday) and it is late in the season, so we had more juice tonight.”
► Galloway ended his bid for the longest streak of made 3-pointers when he missed his first attempt near the end of the first quarter. It was a string of three straight games without a miss — three each against Minnesota and Chicago and then six in Sunday’s win over the Bulls. He finished the game 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. He seemed to rush the first attempt but got into a better rhythm as he got more into the game.
“It’s tough to play freely when so many people are hitting you up about it,” Galloway said. “I didn’t get it but it is what it is. I have to move forward; I’m glad I missed the first one, so then I could keep moving forward.”
► Reggie Jackson said he suffered a minor groin injury in the second quarter after taking a kick in his midsection. He crumpled to the floor and was down for a minute until the Pistons training staff went out to attend to him. Jackson was helped up and went to the locker room with trainers. He later returned to start the third quarter and didn’t show any ill effects.
► The Nets started the game with a zone defense that seemed to perplex the Pistons. They couldn’t find the open looks that they had been getting through most of their streak of 12 wins in the last 14 games. Kurucs was in the right place for most of the game, getting three steals and turning them into easy dunks on the other end.
“(The zone) really threw us off our rhythm,” Galloway said. “They were throwing it in every other possession, trying to switch it up. It messed us up a little trying to get in our rhythm and it slowed the game down for us in the beginning.”
► Andre Drummond secured his 19th straight double-double, tying the franchise record set by Bob Lanier in 1974-75. Drummond coming off being named the Eastern Conference player of the week, has put together some monster double-doubles, including 31 points and 15 rebounds, last week. He’ll go for the franchise record on Wednesday in Miami.
► The reserve group wasn’t nearly as effective as it had been in recent weeks, accounting for just 20 points through three quarters. Galloway had nine of those points, but it was hard for Luke Kennard to get any traction offensively. Zaza Pachulia was pushed into early action in the first quarter after Drummond picked up his second foul in the first quarter, but Pachulia was only 1-of-4 from the field.