Nets comeback falls short; lose to Pistons 103-99

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off their convincing victory over the Los Angeles Clippers last night in Brooklyn, the Nets were in Detroit to take on the Pistons.

However, they weren't at full strength. Brook Lopez was ruled out with a sprained left ankle before the game. Jason Kidd said that he should be ready to go early next week, but it didn't bode well for tonight; the Nets were 1-6 in games without Lopez. And would fall to 1-7 without the Stanford alumnus, losing 103-99 in a failed comeback attempt.

The Nets came out the same way they finished against the Clippers, dominant. The Nets went up 9-2 after three minutes and brought just as much energy as they have had since Deron Williams returned from his ankle injury. Williams led the Nets in the first, scoring seven points and dishing out two assists. He drove through Detroit's defense and attacked the likes of Brandon Jennings for much of the quarter.

As the first wore on, the Nets' defense loosened up. Reggie Evans drawing the start at center, and his nose for the ball, couldn't stop Detroit from dominating the paint and the offensive glass. Detroit took advantage of the loss of Brook Lopez and scored 20 of their 23 first quarter points in the paint. They also grabbed five offensive rebounds to the Nets one. Greg Monroe reaped the most benefits in the first from Lopez being out. He scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds in the first frame. Despite outplaying the Pistons for much of the quarter, the Nets only lead 24-23 after one.

In the second quarter, the Nets looked more like the team that got blown out by the Nuggets and Knicks at home last week. They lacked much energy, and played sloppy basketball. Brooklyn had seven second quarter turnovers and allowed the Pistons to continue their dominance on offense. Detroit scored 14 points in the paint in the second frame, led by Andre Drummond. The second year pro had a field day on the undersized Nets, scoring 16 second quarter points, and hitting all five of his shots, which all came in the restricted area. Rodney Stuckey also caught fire in the second. With Shaun Livingston on him, Stuckey drove past him, and hit jumper after jumper over him, scoring 14 in the quarter on six-of-eight shooting.

The Nets defensive woes continued, and their offense dropped off, and that is how they found themselves down 61-44 at the break.

The Nets came out of the third and got great looks on offense, and all their shots were falling. But, they just couldn't string together enough stops. They sometimes went zone to counter Detroit's dominance on the offensive glass, but that didn't stop them. Deron Williams got going in the third quarter, scoring nine points through the first six minutes and setting a fast pace like he did in the first.

Mirza Teletovic, playing before a nice crowd of Bosnians, got the Nets to within 12 with some nice perimeter shooting. But the Nets failure to stop the Pistons in the paint couldn't get them any closer. The Nets missed some easy shots, and the Pistons got what seemed to be every roll, so it just might have not been the Nets night.

By the end of the third, Andre Drummond had a double-double of 22 points and 10 rebounds. Reggie Evans, who started, didn't see a second in the third, and Shaun Livingston forced the Nets offense to stall when he came in to give D-Will a well needed rest. Even though it seemed that they made some progress in the third, they were down by 18 going into the fourth quarter.

Like in the third quarter, D-Will and Mirza got the Nets going and had them within 13 that forced Maurice Cheeks to call a timeout. The fine shooting continued, led by Teletovic and the nifty playmaking of Williams, and were on a 15-3 run that put them within nine. The Nets hung around for the next six minutes, and Teletovic's three with 3:30 remaining had them within seven, the closet they were since the second quarter.

The Nets were as close as five in the final three minutes. And they had a chance to get closer, but Andray Blatche missed two free throws with 1:35 left. The Nets stuck with the same unit for much of the fourth: Williams, Johnson, Pierce, Teletovic, and Blatche; who all did a fine job of grabbing defensive rebounds and locking the Pistons down on defense, something they had trouble doing up until the fourth. Detroit scored just 17 points in the fourth, with five of them coming from the free throw line.

A Greg Monroe turnaround hook was the dagger, though. With the shot clock winding down Monroe's soft touch put the Pistons ahead 100-93. Although, the Nets gave a last-minute push. Williams drew a foul on Jennings for three shots, and then Paul Pierce drew an offensive foul on Josh Smith. With under 30 seconds left, Williams had a clear lane to the rim, and Jennings looked to hack them. However, the referees did not call it, and the ball was ruled off Williams. After Monroe split a pair of free throws, Paul Pierce hit a contested three to cut the Detroit lead to 2. Kyle Singler stopped all thoughts of a Nets comeback, though, hitting a pair from the charity strip to put the Pistons up 103-99, and for the rest of the game.

The Nets were in a tough spot in this game. Coming off of a tough opponent the night before, traveling, and being without their All-Star big man. However, they fought hard, something that is becoming a part of their identity, and hung around when they were tired. It was great to see them dig deep and fight back despite being down by as much as 21, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to get the victory.

Deron Williams continued to show how dangerous he can be when he is healthy. He scored 22 points and dished out nine assists. On a night where Joe Johnson failed to establish himself on offense, and Kevin Garnett had trouble as well, Mirza Teletovic finished with 17 points while shooting five-of-six from beyond the arc. Blatche, besides those missed free throws, had a fine night as well. He finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Andre Drummond was too much of a for the Nets to overcome, though. Drummond was contained in the fourth, but his presence was known, he went for 22 points and 13 rebounds on eight-of-eleven shooting. Drummond's front court partenr, Monroe, also had a great game. He also finished with 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

The Nets fall to 8-15 on the season. go back to Brooklyn and take on the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.

For more on the Pistons, see: Detroit Bad Boys

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