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James Harden provides finishing kick to Nets' win over Pistons

Nets guard James Harden shoots a free throw

Nets guard James Harden shoots a free throw against the Pistons in the first half of an NBA game at Barclays Center on Saturday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Harden scored the final 10 Nets points and recorded his eighth triple-double since joining them 25 games ago.

"James got key buckets down the stretch," Nets coach Steve Nash said. "I take my hat off to the Pistons. They were physical, played good defense, made it hard on us. We didn’t make shots, which was uncharacteristic, but in key moments, we were able to get baskets and, more importantly, get stops.

"James made a couple key plays, but everyone did, I think, at both ends. There are winning plays, and sometimes, you have to find a way to win when you don’t have your best stuff."

The Nets took a 12-point lead to the final period but saw it immediately shrink to five, but they pushed it back to a nine-point lead after a Kyrie Irving jumper with 5:11 left. But the Pistons put together an 10-0 surge to take a 91-90 lead at the 2:59 mark as the Nets missed a trio of three-point attempts and committed a turnover.

But that’s where Harden stepped up to score all 10 points in a 10-4 finishing kick to pull out their 12th win in the past 13 games.

Harden and Irving each had a 0-for-6 night from three-point range, so Harden made up his mind to get to the rim or get fouled at the end. "Yeah, I had to be aggressive," Harden said. "Things weren’t going great for us offensively. I think defensively we were playing hard and it showed, but it was one of those nights where we’ve just got to find a way to win.

"I just had to get to the basket and create something for myself and for our team. I just wanted to be a little more aggressive in the last two minutes. I had confidence in my floater, confidence in getting to the rim and DJ [DeAndre Jordan] did an unbelievable job of screening and I was able to get downhill and finish."

Harden led the Nets (26-13) with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Irving added 18 points and Landry Shamet had 15, including 3-for-3 three-point shooting on a night when the Nets went 6-for-27 from deep.

Jerami Grant led the Pistons (10-28) with 22 points, and they got 13 each from Saddiq Bey and Delon Wright, but they only shot 40.4% overall and 25.0% from three (8 of 32).

The last time the Nets faced the Pistons was Feb. 9 in Detroit, where they absorbed an embarrassing 122-111 loss that left Nash upset with his team’s lack of pride on defense and that prompted a locker room speech from veteran Jeff Green, who said it was time for the Nets to stop repeating the same mistakes and especially not to lose to teams they should beat. That was a turning point, and the Nets went 11-1 since then going into the rematch Saturday night.

Asked if that game motivated the Nets this time around, Harden said, "It did. We mentioned it. I think it’s most importantly about us and how we’re playing, but we definitely mentioned that Detroit loss and how embarrassing that was. From that point on, we’ve been playing pretty good basketball.

"Tonight, even though it wasn’t pretty, I think we learned a lot from each other in winning that game the way we did . . . We barely cracked 100, but we held them to 95. That’s great defense. Our shot wasn’t falling, but we still found a way to win. I think that’s going to be key going to the postseason because everything isn’t going to be sweet."

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