Fiery as ever and sporting his usual intense scowl, Kevin Garnett muttered strictly choice four-letter words, chatting it up viciously in celebratory fashion while beating himself up at the same time.
Garnett had just hit the first of two free throws with two seconds remaining, icing a 110-105 victory over the Pistons Sunday night at Barclays Center that ended the Nets' losing streak at three games.
That free throw gave the Nets a 109-105 edge that ensured they wouldn't blow the 98-83 lead they held with 51/2 minutes remaining, and as Garnett stood at the line before making the second attempt, he was thrilled that he had gotten a reprieve.
"I played like . . . I can't even express how I played," Garnett said. "But I didn't really play very well tonight. At least I didn't think I did."
He had missed two free throws with 6.1 seconds left and the Nets leading by three, and it was gnawing at him.
Garnett had offered some fatherly encouragement to Mason Plumlee a little while earlier, figuring it would ease the nerves of the second-year big man, who isn't a good free-throw shooter. And Plumlee -- who registered his fourth double-double of the season with 21 points and 12 rebounds -- responded by sinking both of his foul shots, giving the Nets (11-15) a 104-98 lead with 1:17 remaining. But Garnett then missed his pair.
"You know what's crazy," Garnett said. "I talked to Mase. I kind of walked him through to be calm at the line, and then stepped up and did the very opposite of the advice of which I gave him. But I got the rebound and you notice on the rebound, it was a very determined rebound, just to kind of clean myself up to rejuvenate myself, and I knocked the other two down.
"But if I didn't get that chance . . . It's already going to be a long night anyway just because I'm going to watch tape and just review myself. But it would've been a really long night if I didn't come get another chance at it. I'm just glad we came up with the win."
That is a snapshot of the difficulty the Nets have in closing things out. They never make it easy, and that certainly was the case against the Pistons (5-23).
Although the Nets racked up 29 assists on 40 field goals -- with Jarrett Jack dishing out a season-high 10 and scoring 15 points while starting in Deron Williams' place as he recuperates from a strained right calf -- and had five players score in double figures, they let the Pistons go on a 22-8 run in a 5:23 span late in the fourth quarter that shaved their lead to 106-105 with 9.8 seconds left.
"It hasn't been that great here at home, to be honest with you," Joe Johnson said. "We haven't been playing up to our capabilities, putting teams away like we should. I think on the road, home, we start off pretty good and at some point, we let them back in and it's neck-and-neck throughout the game."
That's what happened against Detroit, forcing the Nets to knock down 4 of 6 free throws in the final 8.7 seconds to hold on for a much-needed triumph.
"It's big," Plumlee said. "Missing guys, you've got two stars down. We've been in the last three games. We've been in until the fourth and we let them get away from us. Even Miami, we came back. But for the most part, they've gotten away from us. It was a big win for us. We made plays down the stretch and to come out on the other side, it feels really good."