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Kyrie Irving drops 45 as Nets snap 5-game losing streak in Detroit, 121-111

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Brooklyn Nets v Detroit Pistons Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

Kyrie Irving unleashed the full measure of his wizardry and took the leadership role in snapping a five-game losing streak, dating back to January 12 against the Atlanta Hawks. Irving dropped 45 points, six rebounds and seven assists en route to a 121-111 victory over the Detroit Pistons Saturday night.

If the Nets have any shot at getting back to .500, this is the time to do it. Their next seven games are against teams below .500. This one wasn’t particularly easy.

All that mattered: They finally got a “W” — mostly because Kyrie went off.

The Nets trailed by 10 entering the second half. The energy was lackluster and the shots weren’t falling. Irving took it upon himself to change a similar script.

It started with a circus shot from behind the basket, and turned into an 8-0 run for Kyrie alone — 18-5 extended Nets run. They turned a 10-point deficit into a three-point lead.

However, things can never be easy for the Nets. While Kyrie was on the bench, the Pistons started the fourth on an 8-0 run and regained a five-point lead. Kyrie eventually checked back in and scored eight straight points to give the Nets a 96-93 lead with less than five minutes remaining.

It turned into a back-and-forth affair, the Nets leading 106-104 with a chance to win. Irving isolated on the far right wing and took a tough three with 11 seconds on the clock, five seconds on the shot clock. Spencer Dinwiddie saved the ball from going out of bands, but the ball landed right in Derrick Rose’s hands as he went coast-to-coast to tie the game at 106 apiece, 1.9 seconds left.

Kyrie missed on the final shot of regulation, a three with 9.8 seconds left on the shot clock. Despite his 41 points, he went 0-for-4 in the final 1:08. But, he handled business in the overtime period. He and the Nets went up four early, then turned on the jets following a Joe Harris 3-pointer which put the Nets up seven with three minutes left. The Nets came up with a stop, Irving attracted attention and then dropped it off to Jarrett Allen for a slam.

It was a 13-2 Nets run, 11-point lead with 1:31 remaining. Game over. Five-game losing streak over.

The Nets came out sluggish to start, but the end result is the only thing that mattered. Irving had a superstar night, and Allen played excellent alongside him finishing with 20 points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots.

“Yeah, we’ve got to make up some ground, I think there’s no doubt about it,” Kenny Atkinson said. “It’s a good time. I think we’re getting healthier, I think that helps. The schedule lightens up a little, although there’s no easy games, as we all know.

“But yeah, it’s important to go into the All-Star Game with momentum and come out of the All-Star Game ready to really attack the last part of the season. We’ll have some important games coming up.”

Nobody is saying this is the turning point of the season, but if there’s a time to get back on track — it’s now. The Nets began a seven-game stretch in which they’ll play all teams below .500. Of course, at 19-25, the Nets are a below-average team as well, but this is a golden opportunity for them to build chemistry, win games and gain some momentum as they enter the All-Star break.

JARRETT ALLEN VS. ANDRE DRUMMOND

Here’s the stat: Andre Drummond was -20 for the game, Jarrett Allen was a +21. After years of being dominated, indeed bullied, by the Pistons center, Allen apparently decided enough is enough. With 20 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks, he outplayed Drummond, particularly in the second half. Despite having another 20/20 game —20 and 21 to be precise — he couldn’t control Allen as he so often did in the past.

It was Allen’s fifth 20-10 game of the season. It was also his 21st double-double of the season, just three shy of matching his total from all of last season. With DeAndre Jordan still out, Allen racked up 40 minutes.

MORE SUPERLATIVES

From Brooklyn Nets PR:

—Kyrie Irving’s 45 points was the second most with one or fewer turnovers in a game in franchise history, just shy of the 50 points and no turnovers Irving had on Opening Night.

—It was also the most scored by any player against the Pistons this season.

—It was the most points a Nets player had scored vs. the Pistons in Detroit since Ray Williams tallied 52 points on April 17, 1982.

—Irving registered his sixth 30-point game of the season in his 17 games played.

—Kyrie Irving is the only Nets player to record multiple games with at least 45 points, five rebounds and five assists since the team joined the NBA for the 1976-77 season. Kenny Anderson, Vince Carter, Devin Harris, and Deron Williams each had one such game.

MINUTES MOUNT UP

Kenny Atkinson started Garrett Temple over Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert but by game’s end, as the coach noted, what mattered was who finished ... and played the most minutes.

Temple finished with four points in 22 minutes, Dinwiddie 10 points and 5 assists in 37. LeVert played only 22 minutes, scoring 11 points.

In addition to Allen’s 40 minutes, Irving also logged 40. Joe Harris, who had a solid game with 16 points and six boards, played 36 minutes.

Meanwhile, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Rodions Kurucs will be well-rested Sunday for the Knicks. Neither played vs. Detroit. Also, DeAndre Jordan, who didn’t play because of his dislocated middle finger is likely to be ready Sunday, giving Atkinson three rotation players who will be well-rested.

WILSON CHANDLER MOVING UP IN ROTATION

After missing 25 games to a suspension for PED usage, Wilson Chandler is getting more minutes of late. He played a season-high 31 minutes Saturday, finishing with seven points, seven rebounds as well as an assist, a steal and a block.

Over the past four games, the 32-year-old is averaging 10 points and four rebounds in 22 minutes, shooting 9-of-16 from deep (56.3 percent).

GOAL TENDS R US

Three straight goal tending calls involving the same player ... in the last minute off regulation?!?

First, Wilson Chandler was whistled twice for goal tending on one end of the court, then benefited from a call against Andre Drummond.

POST-GAME MOMENT

For a different perspective, head on over to Detroit Bad Boys, our Pistons sister site on SB Nation.

We’ll see if this is indeed the start of something. They have the Knicks at the Garden tomorrow, 6:00 PM ET.