Saturday’s game between the Brooklyn Nets and Detroit Pistons featured two teams that started the season shakier than they would have liked. It was also the first back-to-back for both teams, and throw in a sprinkle of player injuries—frankly, it was not basketball of the highest quality.
Nevertheless, basketball it was. No matter how the Nets fell apart and lost a fourth-quarter double-digit lead.
The supposedly-improved defense that was displayed against the Houston Rockets on Friday failed to show up to the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. The Pistons found little resistance as they sprinted out to an early lead with all five starters putting up points. Things did look slightly better on the other side of the ball, as Joe Harris played like a hero to keep the game close.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) November 2, 2019
Brooklyn’s output looked brighter in the second quarter, largely due to the tightening of the defense, allowing just 13 points from Detroit on 4-of-21 shooting. Brooklyn’s improved ball security was also of note, as the team has averaged 19.6 turnovers per game coming into the game this season, but only committed four going into halftime.
Caris LeVert made his presence felt, playing ferociously with the ball in his hands.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) November 2, 2019
In a tale of two teams between the first and second quarters, Brooklyn led Detroit 54-46 at halftime. The Nets then came out strong in the third quarter, and it looked like they would comfortably cruise to their third win of the season.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) November 3, 2019
But it is never that easy.
The Pistons went on a 26-6 run that was sparked by the seven Brooklyn turnovers in the third quarter and supplemented by silly fouls from a rattled Spencer Dinwiddie. This powered Detroit to take back the lead and control of the game entering the fourth quarter.
The Pistons kept their foot on the accelerator to take a 13-point lead before Kyrie Irving finally checked back into the game with 8:39 left to play in regulation. He turned the tides for the team and made the game interesting on his way to his third career triple-double.
With a minute left to play, one possession separated the two teams — an all too familiar situation for the Nets this season.
In another exceedingly common situation, Brooklyn came out on the wrong side of it. In a battle of fouls and free throws in the final minutes, the game was ironically iced by a pair of free throws by Andre Drummond, historically one of the worst stripe shooters in the league (although now much improved).
This is a game where the Pistons played without Blake Griffin, Reggie Jackson and Derrick Rose. No matter which way you slice it — between the lead lost and the careless mistakes — the loss is another tough pill to swallow.
The Nets play next at home on Monday against the New Orlean Pelicans, a matchup that has turned into a vital opportunity for a Brooklyn team looking for its momentum.
Kyrie Irving Point Guard
20 PTS, 8-21 FG, 0-6 3PT, 11 REB, 10 AST, 2 TO
Kyrie Irving had one of the quietest triple-doubles in recent memory.
Before you light our Twitter mentions on fire, we realize how strange it is to grade Irving so harshly on a night where he posts a triple-double. This is our rationale: He is the best player on the Nets team until Kevin Durant returns, and he is paid as such. Therefore, Brooklyn needs him to produce as a primary scoring threat. 20 points on 38 percent shooting just does not cut it.
He is absolutely not responsible for the loss — and he was the only reason they were back in the game in the fourth quarter after allowing such a large Detroit run — but he should also have been able to get over the hump as well. Fatigue may play into it, but Brooklyn needed more from Irving this time.
Caris LeVert Shooting Guard
14 PTS, 6-17 FG, 0-3 3PT, 6 REB, 1 AST, 1 TO
Caris LeVert may be coming after Shaq’s brand with how Icy Hot he has been this season.
LeVert has had a serious uptick in his turnovers per game. From quarter to quarter, he can either look like the most automatic offensive threat on the floor, or a specter watching the action happen from afar.
He still has not put it all together to return to his early-season form from this time last year, and there is a reason why Kenny Atkinson plays Dinwiddie over him in the fourth quarter.
Taurean Prince Small Forward
20 PTS, 7-12 FG, 5-8 3PT, 1 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 2 TO
Taurean Prince was the best low-key signing of the off-season.
First, he is the third-best three-point shooter on the Nets behind only Irving and Harris, hitting on 40.5 percent of his attempts. He also takes care of the ball, plays strong defense and is a sneakily strong rebounder.
Basically, Prince is everything the team was searching for in a power forward last season.
Joe Harris Shooting Guard
18 PTS, 7-10 FG, 4-6 3PT, 2 REB, 2 AST, 1 TO
Joe Harris is the king of consistency and culture.
What else is there to say? Harris works hard, does not cause drama and plays on a nightly basis.
Every year Harris gets better and adds new tools to his repertoire, and showed to be clutch in needed times for Brooklyn Saturday. Every team in the league wants a player like Joe Harris.
Jarrett Allen Center
7 PTS, 3-7 FG, 7 REB, 0 TO
Jarrett Allen does not deserve to be the scapegoat of the team.
Allen has received flack for the frustrating and disappointing start to Brooklyn’s season. He has not played perfectly, but neither has anyone else on the squad.
Allen has improved his field goal percentage, rebounding and block percentage. He has struggled with shooting free throws, finishing around the rim, and defense as a whole, but this is still out of a small sample size.
Just like the team as a whole, give Allen some time. But his team, and Nets fans, would like him to figure things out much sooner and later.
Spencer Dinwiddie Point Guard
16 PTS, 5-10 FG, 1-5 3PT, 3 REB, 6 AST, 4 TO
Spencer Dinwiddie had a meltdown against his former team.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) November 2, 2019
He missed that shot, by the way.
While Dinwiddie has historically always kicked it into another gear against the Pistons, who released him, it was not to his advantage Saturday. He played recklessly, committing careless fouls and taking suspect shots.
The bench that was a strength last season for the Nets has struggled mightily this season, and a large part of that comes back on its leader.