One of those nights: Pistons fall flat as Nets leap over them for No. 6 spot
Nathaniel S. Butler (NBAE/Getty)
Three quick observations from Monday night’s 103-75 loss to the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center
TRADING PLACES – If you were struggling to remember what the Pistons looked before their dazzling run that saw them win 12 of 14, they crammed all of their worst moments from the 9-22 stretch in December and January into one half of basketball. It was their third game in four nights and their third back to back since the All-Star break. It probably had something to do with getting caught by the schedule and something else to do with being befuddled by a hybrid zone defense Brooklyn threw at them, but the Pistons were held to 35 points in the first half – one more than their season’s lowest-scoring first half – and shot 28 percent while committing 10 turnovers. Brooklyn wasn’t much better than the Pistons for the first 18 minutes, but outscored them 26-7 over the last half of the second quarter to lead by 26 at halftime. The Pistons wound up shooting 27.8 percent, a season worst, while also scoring a season-low 75 points. Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin were the only Pistons starters in double figures, though they combined to shoot 6 of 24. Drummond grabbed 20 rebounds. The Nets and Pistons swapped places in the Eastern Conference standings, Brooklyn going a half-game ahead of the Pistons into the No. 6 playoff spot. The Nets, though, have only four home games remaining and on Wednesday start a stretch of seven consecutive road games at Oklahoma City in which the only team with a losing record is the Lakers. The Pistons retain a three-game lead on the No. 8 seed, Miami – next up on their schedule on Wednesday. The loss snapped a five-game losing streak and leaves the Pistons still with a 3½-game lead on Miami for the No. 8 playoff slot. It was the 10th back to back of the season for the Pistons, who are 5-5 in them with three more remaining.
NO CIGAR– Langston Galloway got the suspense out of the way early. Coming into the game with 12 consecutive made 3-pointers, Galloway was one off of the franchise record held by Terry Mills and the NBA record shared by Mills and Brent Price. But his first try, early in the second quarter, was an air ball from the right corner. Galloway, who’d made 23 of his last 37 3-point shots coming into the game, made his next attempt midway through the quarter, the first make of the night for the Pistons after they’d missed seven. He finished with nine points, making 3 of 7 from the arc. Mills set his record in December 1996. A member of Michigan’s 1989 NCAA championship team who played six seasons for the Pistons in two separate stints, Mills started his streak in a win over Atlanta in which he scored 25 points and made 7 of 8 triples on Dec. 4. Two nights later he went 6 for 6 from the arc as the Pistons beat Cleveland. The following night – also in a road game against the Nets, though when they played in New Jersey – Mills extended his streak to 13 before missing and wining up going 4 of 8 from the arc in another Pistons win. Mills, 6-foot-10, was a career 38.4 percent 3-point shooter in an era before big men commonly shot triples.
BROWN’S BACK – Bruce Brown was back in the starting lineup after missing Sunday’s win over Chicago with a sprained right ankle. Dwane Casey put him on Brooklyn’s best perimeter player, his standard role, guarding All-Star D’Angelo Russell. Brown was whistled for a foul on the game’s first possession as he challenged a Russell mid-range jump shot. Brown played only the first eight minutes of the first half as Casey looked for a way to generate offense as the Pistons stumbled to their 35 first-half points. Brown wound up playing 15 minutes, scoring all five of his points in the third quarter while hitting 2 of 4 shots and 1 of 3 from the 3-opint arc. Russell scored 11 points for Brooklyn on 5 of 13 shooting, picking up seven assists. Zaza Pachulia, who missed the last three games with inflammation of his right Achilles, also returned to the lineup. Pachulia played five minutes of the first half, shooting 1 of 4. Pachulia played the last 2:27 with the game long decided and finished with two points.