EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Jan. 11 (Ticker) -- The New Jersey Nets played like a team without its best player. Against the Detroit Pistons, they were.

Hours after losing forward Richard Jefferson for the season to a wrist injury, the Nets struggled from the field in an 89-80 loss to the Pistons, who have won six straight road games.

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Jefferson, the Nets' leader in points, rebounds and assists, suffered a ruptured ligament in his left wrist December 27 after being undercut by Detroit guard Chauncey Billups while driving to the basket.

The emerging star had played in all seven games since suffering the injury, which will require season-ending surgery.

"We're going to win without Richard, but we're going to have to find out how to win without Richard," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "We're going to learn. This is the next challenge, and more or less the next opportunity for (the Nets)."

New Jersey started the season without much depth. Without Jefferson, they could hardly match the defending NBA champions, who had six players in double figures.

"I felt bad for them," Pistons coach Larry Brown said. "But we got it done. It wasn't beautiful, but we got it done."

Rasheed Wallace had 19 points and a season-high 13 rebounds and Richard Hamilton scored 18 points for the Pistons, who scored 42 points in the paint and made 23-of-28 free throws.

"We didn't throw it into the post as decisively as we wanted, but we had an advantage inside," Brown said.

"That's one of our strong points, we can get the ball inside," said Detroit center Ben Wallace, who has 11 points and 11 rebounds. "We can dump the ball into Sheed or (Antonio McDyess) and they can score in the paint."

Vince Carter scored 19 points but was just 7-of-20 from the field and Travis Best added 16 for New Jersey, which shot just 37 percent (32-of-86) against one of the league's top defensive teams.

"As much as we need (Jefferson) out on the floor, everybody has to step up," said Jason Kidd, who had 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds. "We've got to play much better than we did tonight."

The Pistons never trailed after the opening minute of the second quarter but did not pull away until late in the third period. They were clinging to a 62-59 edge with 68 seconds left before reeling off nine straight points.

Hamilton buried a pair of free throws before McDyess blocked a shot by Best and hustled downcourt for a fast-break layup. Lindsey Hunter stole the ball from Carter and fed Hamilton for a dunk just before time expired.

McDyess opened the fourth quarter with a free throw and Hunter added a jumper for a 71-59 cushion with 10:25 remaining. The Nets never recovered, falling behind by as many as 14 points as the Pistons rolled to their ninth win in 11 road games.

"We're tough on the road," Billups said. "We're at our best when the odds are against us. Last year we were a great road team. This year we're a good road team and getting better."

Billups and McDyess each added 11 points. Hunter finished with 10 points, including an acrobatic layup that highlighted a 13-3 run in the second quarter and gave the Pistons their first double-digit lead.