In the scope of the season, the Nets (16-20) hit rock bottom once Brook Lopez’s 30-foot heave fell short, capping a 90-88 loss to the 76ers (6-29). A fast start for Brooklyn was followed by turnovers, missed three-point shots, and overall carelessness that fueled another embarrassing defeat, this time at home to one of the NBA’s bottom-feeders.
The Nets, losers of four in row, will have to regroup quickly tonight in Detroit against the resurgent Pistons (12-24), who have found their groove lately. They’d won seven games in row before finally falling to the Atlanta Hawks (29-8) at home last night. The team has taken off since the release of Josh Smith, an erratic swingman who signed a 4-year contract worth $54 million before last season but has done more harm than good to the chemistry coach Stan Van Gundy wants to install.
The Pistons have done it the hard way lately, winning five straight on the road including back-to-back games earlier this week in San Antonio and Dallas. The Nets, respectively, will be on the hind end of their back-to-back set, but this time with Kevin Garnett, who sat out last night’s contest per usual protocol in such scheduling instances.
The Nets have prevailed in the previous two meetings against Detroit, a 102-90 victory at The Palace on November 1st and a 110-105 win in Brooklyn on December 21st, which was also Jarrett Jack’s first start as a Net. In that game, Jack scored 15 points and dished out ten of the Nets season-high 29 assists, but surprisingly that wasn’t the number that jumped off the stat sheet. Center Andre Drummond (second in the league in rebounding, 13.1 RPG) snatched 20 rebounds, including an astounding 13 of the teams 18 offensive boards for a Pistons team that ranks second in the league and seventh overall in rebounding; perhaps another reason Hollins kept Garnett out last night. Greg Monroe, now back in the starting lineup, has recorded double-doubles in points and rebounds the past five games and averaging 14.8 points and 9.5 rebounds for the season.
Thankfully for the Nets, Mason Plumlee is on his biggest roll of the season, notching his career-high fourth straight double-double with a 15-point, 15-rebound game in the loss to Philly last night, sitting most of the fourth quarter. In their aforementioned game against Detroit, Plumlee shot 9-of-10 from the field for 21 points to go along 12 rebounds despite his troubles fending off Drummond on the glass. He continues to flourish in the starting lineup next to Jarrett Jack, but the Nets are receiving little consistency from any others up and down the roster.
Brook Lopez, the poster boy for the Nets’ inconsistency this season, may have said it best post-game last night. “We have to stay confident,” Lopez added. “It’s been a very up-and-down season for us. We’ve had lots of glimpses for small stretches of our potential. We just have to be consistent. And I’ve said that numerous times this season, but we absolutely need to be consistent. We’ve had a lot of different situations, different groups on the floor, and we just all have to get on the same page.”
Tip-off is at 7:30 E.S.T., at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan.