AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Maybe their shipment of that popular energy drink didn't arrive before tip-off. Perhaps they ran out of coffee. The Nets could have used a big-time pick-me-up early on against the Pistons last night. That 24-hour Lakers flu hadn't worn off.
"I think it was a hangover, yeah," Gerald Wallace said. "The fact that we gave the game away we felt we could have won last night. We got in late, long day going through the process of getting up and getting here.
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"They're a young team. They're energetic and they came out and took it right at us. They kind of backed us on our heels, but we were able to keep the game close, not let it get out of hand and then close it out at the end."
With a little help from Brook Lopez. After lamenting how things soured in the closing minutes against the Lakers Tuesday, Lopez wasn't about to come up short again when interim coach P.J. Carlesimo called his number. Lopez banked in a twisting layup for a three-point lead with 17.8 seconds left, and the Nets held on for a 93-90 victory in front of a sparse crowd at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
The Nets (29-20) snapped a 10-game losing streak at The Palace and improved to 18-1 against sub.-500 teams. They found a way to fight back from a 13-point first-half deficit in a game with 21 lead changes -- 11 in the fourth quarter.
"It was kind of the polar opposite tonight," Lopez said. "We were pretty much behind the whole game, we kept fighting back and then they kept making their run and our guys stuck with it.
"Tonight, we were great in the last three to five minutes."
The Nets' bench was clutch at the start of the fourth, with MarShon Brooks and Andray Blatche totaling seven of the team's 24 points in the quarter. The Nets outscored the Pistons (18-32) by seven in the fourth to pull it out. They trailed 73-69 at the quarter's outset, taking the lead for good at 84-83 on Deron Williams' two free throws with 4:31 left.
But the Nets probably would have been doomed without that bench production.
"I definitely give all the credit to our bench," Joe Johnson said. "Those guys came in tonight and pretty much brought us back, held the lead. They started it and we finished it."
The Pistons got within a point four times after that, but the Nets never yielded that big basket Detroit was desperately seeking. Will Bynum missed a potential tying three-pointer from the right corner as time expired.
The Nets didn't even take their first lead until midway through the third quarter. Here's how bad things were in the first half for them: Evans was their leading scorer at the break, tossing in eight points to go along with 10 rebounds. They had only 29 points with a little over six minutes remaining in the half.
"I think our play kind of carried over from last night and we got in late," Williams said. "So it was tough to get up and get ready for this game, but I thought we did a better job in the second half of defending them, making things tough on them, especially in the fourth quarter."