Nets' offensive burst leaves Pistons in the dust in second half
New York — Winning streaks haven’t been easy for the Pistons to come by in the past couple of seasons. They only had one last year and two the previous season.
After Saturday’s victory over the Orlando Magic, their first of the season, the Pistons had a chance for a win streak, their first since Feb. 14.
The next win streak will have to wait.
The Pistons stayed with the Brooklyn Nets for most of the first half, but the Nets pulled away in the third quarter and cruised to a 117-91 victory on Sunday night at Barclays Center. The Pistons (1-5) were on the second night of a back-to-back and after an off day on Monday, they’ll have three games in the next four nights.
Cory Joseph had 13 points, Josh Jackson 12 points, five rebounds and three assists and Jerami Grant 11 points and four rebounds. The Pistons didn’t have an answer for the Nets’ explosive offense, as they combined to shoot 65% from the field and 52% on 3-pointers in the game.
The Nets starters shot 25-of-39 (54%) from the field, including James Harden, who had a triple-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in 29 minutes.
Kevin Durant was outstanding for the Nets (4-3), with 23 points and five assists through three quarters. He shot 10-of-13 from the field and led a superb offensive effort, along with Harden.
"We were in position (defensively), but there's a difference between being in position and making them feel us,” coach Dwane Casey said. “We had a lot of shots where we were challenging, and it still wasn't enough.”
Durant was ejected from the game in the third quarter after a flagrant-2 foul on Olynyk. Officials review the play and determined that Durant led with an elbow, then followed through with excessive contact on Olynyk, which led to the ejection.
The Nets led at that point, 85-68, at the 3:23 mark, and Olynyk (nine points) made both free throws and Joseph followed with a jumper on the ensuing possession, cutting the lead to 13. LaMarcus Aldridge (16 points) answered with a jumper and started the Nets’ decisive 11-0 run, with a 3-pointer from Patty Mills, two baskets by DeAndre Bembry (15 points and seven rebounds) and another lay-in by Aldridge.
The lead ballooned to 96-72 and Josh Jackson made a pair of free throws to finish the third quarter with a 22-point deficit for the Pistons. The reserves for both teams finished the fourth quarter.
“Our margin of error is very small. If you drop your shoulders or drop the head once things are not going well and not fight through it and that type of thing, it's difficult,” Casey said. “I thought when they made that run in third quarter, we let go of the rope and you can't do that against a high-powered, great-shooting team like the Brooklyn Nets.”
The Nets jumped to a 16-8 lead in the first five-plus minutes, but Grant answered with a drive and a 3-pointer to get within three. Harden followed with a midrange jumper and Aldridge added a turnaround jumper. Aldridge was efficient, going 7-of-8 from the field in 21 minutes.
Jackson had a lay-in and 3-pointer and Joseph’s driving basket pulled the Pistons within 28-25 after the first quarter. The Pistons tied it at 32 on a Jackson baseline jumper at the 10:40 mark, but the Nets took off with a 10-0 run, with a jumper by Aldridge, 3-pointers from Bembry and Jevon Carter and another hook by Aldridge in the paint.
Trey Lyles (eight points, four rebounds and three assists) made consecutive baskets, but the Nets kept pushing. Durant had eight straight Nets points near the end of the first half, and the margin increased to 64-49 at halftime.
“We just didn't play with enough activity (on defense),” Joseph said. “They were able to cut pretty freely and get to the spots they wanted to get to.
“We just have to play better; we allowed them to shoot 62% and 52% from 3 ... We have to continue to keep a level head and continue to battle and play together out there. When things are going bad, we have to keep an even keel."
The Pistons were without rookie Cade Cunningham, who made his NBA debut in Saturday’s win, as he took a night off to manage his ankle injury. He’s expected to play in Tuesday’s matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks at Little Caesars Arena.