Nets suffer ugly loss to Pistons in second game of back-to-back

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Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving, right, drives past Detroit Pistons’ Jaden Ivey during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023 in New York.
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

BROOKLYN — Thursday night was the second half of a back-to-back for the Nets and at times it looked like it. After a charged affair with the Philadelphia 76ers the night before, the Nets looked gassed in Thursday’s 130-122 loss to the Detroit Pistons at Barclays Center.

The game lacked any of the same juice that the Nets had 24 hours earlier in the City of Brotherly Love and they have now dropped their second consecutive game. Even more concerning is the fact that the Nets have lost five of their last seven games, all of which have been played without superstar Kevin Durant.


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But if anyone was expecting Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn to use the quick turnaround as an excuse, think again. 

“You know I’m not going to allow that to happen,” Vaughn said. “There’s no excuses. We all play the same amount of games throughout the course of the year and the schedule dictates its own self for each team. We gave effort in Philadelphia yesterday. And the expectations, what we always talked about was to win this basketball game. The people who suited up, the people who played, the people who stepped on the floor had an opportunity to impact the basketball game for their teammates. And that’s the objective every single time we step on the floor.

“We were expected to win tonight. …  You do what’s necessary, whether that’s taking care of your body, the mental part of it, the work that goes on between days off, days off between games, game day, to get yourself in a position to win. That’s why we do this thing.”

The Nets struggled to knock down shots and get the needed stops, especially in the second half. In the third quarter alone Brooklyn was outscored 43-31, which changed the trajectory of the game, and was outscored in the paint 60-50.

Brooklyn also gave up 18 second-chance points to the Pistons as well in a loss that seemed uglier than the final score indicated. Detroit had lost four straight games coming into Thursday’s game and seven of their last eight games. 

The Pistons hadn’t won in Brooklyn in nearly five years as well. 

It was Detroit that pushed what had been a three-point lead to five to start the second half and grew it to a 101-90 advantage by the end of the quarter.  

“They came out very, very aggressive and you know when you’re going against teams in this league that have a tendency to come out in the third quarter and try to win that,” Kyrie Irving said.  “And tonight I just think we were unprepared. We came out and we were just flat. When you do that you’re reacting to everything, every possession and it makes it difficult. They had a rhythm and once Jacque called that timeout. … We were just caught flat-footed in the third quarter and that led to the rhythm in the fourth, so you gotta be better moving forward and we will no matter who’s in the lineup.” 

To add insult to injury, the Nets saw Ben Simmons and T.J. Warren leave the game early in the second half. Simmons exited the game with 6:40 remaining in the third and the team later announced he would not return due to left knee soreness.

Warren left in the fourth and immediately went to the Nets’ locker room. 

Kyrie Irving did all that he could to keep the Nets in the game and Brooklyn even pulled within six points in the final minute of the game. Irving finished the night with 40 points which was the second time this season he’s recorded at least 40 in a single game. 

Brooklyn Nets’ Nic Claxton shoots next to Detroit Pistons’ Jalen Duren, left, and Bojan Bogdanovic, second from right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023 in New York.AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Nic Claxton set a new career best with 27 points in the loss and shot 11-of-13 from the field. Edmond Sumner had 24 points off the bench while knocking down both of his three-point attempts.

The Pistons jumped to a quick 4-0 lead before a Royce O’Neale three got the Nets on the board with 10:19 on the clock in the opening quarter and moments later a stepback shot from Irving had given Brooklyn a brief 7-6 lead. The Pistons and Nets traded baskets with either side not being able to get more than a three before Alec Burks knocked down a stepback three in the final minute to put the Pistons up by six.

Markieff Morris hit a buzzer-beating three to cut the Nets’ deficit to 30-27 at the end of the first.

Sumner managed to tie the game twice after Detroit had pushed their lead to five early in the second quarter and Brooklyn took a 42-38 lead off a putback layup from Joe Harris. The two sides traded baskets, and the lead, before Brooklyn took a one-point lead into halftime. 

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