A Needed Win

Pistons withstand Nets 3-point barrage to snap 3-game skid


The story of the game in Pistons red, white and blue

WHITE HOT – Andre Drummond and Rodney Stuckey fueled one of the Pistons’ very best quarters of the season as they outscored Brooklyn 38-20 in the second to take a 17-point halftime lead, then they held on as Brooklyn cut a 21-point deficit to two in the final minute. Drummond scored 16 of his 22 points in the second quarter when he hit 6 of 7 foul shots and all five of his field goals, while Stuckey hit 7 of 9 shots in the first half and finished with 17 points in the 103-99 victory as the Pistons snapped a three-game losing streak.

BLUE COLLAR – Coming off a 28-point, 10-rebound homecoming in Wednesday’s overtime loss at New Orleans, Greg Monroe’s strong start – he had 10 points, four boards and two assists in the first quarter – kept the Pistons close when Brooklyn got out of the gate quickly and led by seven. Monroe stepped aside when Stuckey and Drummond got rolling, but he played well at both ends and finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds. His hook shot with 54 seconds left to put the Pistons up by seven was huge and ended a six-possession scoring drought.

RED FLAG – The Nets aren’t a particularly prolific 3-point shooting team as they rank 19th in accuracy and take fewer than the Pistons. But the Pistons rank 26th in the NBA in 3-point percentage defense and Brooklyn exploited the 3-point line, making 12 of 22, to keep itself on the fringe of contention throughout the game. Mirza Teletovic replaced Reggie Evans at power forward in the second half and made his first five 3-point shots to fuel Brooklyn’s comeback.

It wasn’t that long ago when those Pistons would have been killed by these Pistons. In the early days of the Lawrence Frank era, when an aging Ben Wallace often was their center and the undersized Jason Maxiell lined up at power forward, long, athletic frontcourts overwhelmed the Pistons.

Adios to all of that. The Pistons are now the long, athletic frontcourt that gives teams lacking those qualities massive trouble. Without Brook Lopez, the Nets fit the typical victim’s profile.

Only a torrid 3-point shooting second half kept Brooklyn from being run out of The Palace after the Pistons established a 17-point halftime lead and stretched it to 21 early in the fourth quarter. The Nets simply couldn’t handle Andre Drummond’s power and athleticism, Greg Monroe’s size and scoring touch and Josh Smith’s speed and aggression.

They combined for 54 points and 30 rebounds, just enough on a night the Pistons spotted the other guys a 27-point advantage from the 3-point line. The Nets came back and made it way too uncomfortable – Paul Pierce’s triple with 11 seconds left made it a two-point game – but the Pistons won to snap a three-game losing streak and hailed it as an opportunity to learn how to execute in the lonely moments of close games.

“Tonight was a big win for us,” Andre Drummond said. “I think we all played well as a collective group and came together down the stretch of the game and held them off when they made their run. We’ve got to use that energy and intensity we had tonight and use it on Sunday.”

“It helps us figure out how to win close games, especially the way we won tonight,” said Smith, who shot with some tough luck – 3 of 13, but only one 3-point attempt as he stayed mostly around the paint – but still found a way to contribute with six boards, six assists and a blocked shot. “A couple of plays didn’t work for us down the stretch, but we were able to put together about three, four stops. It’s just a learning experience to try to learn how to close out games. Learning how to execute that much harder and not act lackadaisical whenever we feel like we have the game won.”

"I work hard at that every day, the results are going to show up sooner than later. Tonight was an example of the hard work I’ve put into it."

- Andre Drummond on free throw shooting
Full game quotes
The Pistons didn’t get lackadaisical as much as tentative when the Nets hit them with a 3-point barrage, making 9 of 15 after halftime. Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd swapped out Reggie Evans, a rebounding brute but an offensive non-entity, for his mirror opposite, Mirza Teletovic, who connected on his first five triples and finished with 17 points.

But when they didn’t score on six straight possessions spanning nearly five minutes, the Pistons helped themselves – as Smith noted – by stiffening on defense, as well. The Nets scored 16 points in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter to pare their 21-point deficit to 10, but then scored just nine more points until the final minute.

The Pistons had just enough of a cushion to hold on, thanks largely to one of their more dynamic quarters of the season, a 38-point second sparked by Drummond and Rodney Stuckey. Drummond scored 16 of his 22 in the quarter, hitting all five field goals and 6 of 7 foul shots to go with five boards, a block and a steal. Stuckey hit 6 of 8 shots, scoring 14 points and dishing two assists. The Pistons committed just one turnover, forced six and ran the ball down Brooklyn’s throat.

“We just knew they had a game last night and we wanted to try to take advantage of it,” Smith said. “We watched them play and we wanted to be able to get out and run and get easy buckets to get ourselves going.”

“We know they have a lot of veterans on their team and we have a lot of young guys on our team,” Drummond said. “So we tried to run the ball as soon as we pass it in, try to be quick with it and get a quick basket.”

Stuckey couldn’t find the same groove in the second half, though, so the Pistons had to get their points where they could find them. Kyle Singler made several key baskets, scoring 14 of his 16 after halftime, and his two free throws with 10 seconds left gave the Pistons a four-point lead to complete the scoring.

The game’s biggest basket, though, probably belonged to Monroe, who matched Drummond’s 22 points and added 11 rebounds. His right-hand hook shot with 54 seconds to play snapped the six-possession drought and put the Pistons up by seven. Brooklyn took Monroe away by doubling him to prevent the defensively challenged Teletovic from having to defend him, a gamble that worked because the Pistons weren’t doing much damage from the perimeter.

“We didn’t continue with the flow that got us the lead, that’s for sure,” Maurice Cheeks said. “I thought Stuckey was one of the main reasons we got our lead in the first half and when he came back in he didn’t shoot the ball as well. They started doubling a little more, taking it out of (Monroe’s) hands and the same with Josh. We were going to have to make some perimeter shots.”

They really never did make them. But they had a sizable lead to play with, thanks to the speed and athleticism that used to overwhelm them, to make their lead hold up and get a win they needed desperately after losing three straight.