'We have to figure it out': Nets hand Pistons fifth loss in six games
Brooklyn, N.Y. — There was a time the Pistons still had a fighting chance of making the playoffs, with the Brooklyn Nets within a reasonable distance in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
Those hopes of catching the Nets are evaporating.
They’ve dwindled more within the past week, with the Pistons hitting another slump, which included an overtime loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday.
Add another loss to the list.
The Pistons fell behind by a dozen in the first half and regained the lead, but had a poor start to the fourth quarter and couldn’t recover, as the Nets took a 125-115 victory on Wednesday night at Barclays Center.
It’s the fifth loss in the last six games for the Pistons (17-32), who fell into the 11th spot in the East, 4 1/2 games behind the Nets. With one of the toughest remaining schedules in the league, the Pistons' prospects of making the NBA draft lottery appear as likely as their prospects of making the playoffs.
“I’m very disappointed — it was 28-8 between the first four minutes of the first quarter and first four minutes of the third quarter. That's what's disappointing, in a relatively statistically close game,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “I’m disappointed in our starts and we have to figure it out (and find) five, six, seven men who are going to come in and compete at a high level no matter what your contract says. We have to find it.”
Reggie Jackson had 17 of his 23 points in the first half, Derrick Rose added 22 points, six rebounds and five assists and Christian Wood 20 points and eight rebounds.
The Pistons had a lead just before halftime, but let the Nets finished with an 8-2 flurry, with three free throws from Spencer Dinwiddie giving them a 70-68 lead with a second to go before halftime.
Dinwiddie finished with 28 points and six assists, Taurean Prince 22 points and seven rebounds and Kyrie Irving 20 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Nets (20-26).
Wood had a dunk and free throw in the final minute of the third quarter to get the Pistons within 97-93, but Irving countered with a pair of free throws to make it a six-point lead heading to the fourth quarter.
Markieff Morris (15 points) started the fourth with a jumper but the Nets rallied behind Dinwiddie, who had 10 points in just more than two minutes, with a pair of 3-pointers. The Nets had a 12-2 run and had control of the game. Rose had a nifty reverse layup but the Nets had an answer for each Pistons surge.
The Pistons got the lead back to single digits on two free throws by Wood and a 3-pointer by Rose, but the Nets responded with a lay-in by Prince and a 3-pointer by Joe Harris with 2:14 left to keep the Pistons at bay.
►Rose had his 13th straight game scoring at least 20 points, the longest streak of his career. He needed a 3-pointer at the 3:40 mark of the fourth quarter to top 20 points but he was efficient, going 9-of-15 from the field, and added six rebounds and five assists in splitting time with Jackson at point guard.
►Rose’s minutes were still elevated, at 31, which has been a concern for coach Dwane Casey, but with few options, Casey is trying to maximize his use. Rose and Jackson played together again in a tandem that Casey likes, but it also affects their other minutes combinations when both are on the court.
►Sekou Doumbouya played just eight minutes and was scoreless, missing both of his field goals, 3-point attempts. His production has waned in the past couple of weeks and he looked to be lost on the court in finding a niche on either end. He started both halves and after a string of good starts, he’s looking to find a groove again.
“Our rookie had seven minutes and was minus-20. I don't know how bad you have to play to get that many,” Casey said. “We have to get that fire lit under him a little bit more because he's lost that zest and fire he had going against (LeBron) James in the first couple weeks. We'll get it back. He's a young kid and we'll get that fire back.”
►Dinwiddie debuted his No. 26 jersey with a sterling performance, going 8-of-13 from the field, including 4-of-8 on 3-pointers. He’s had some of his signature games against the Pistons, but he seemed to relish the opportunity to honor one of his heroes in the new jersey and to reprise his good games against his former team.