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Nets grow cold in second half and fall to Pistons, their fifth loss in row

Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Garnett, front right, tries to

Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Garnett, front right, tries to swipe the ball from Detroit Pistons' Greg Monroe (10) during the first half of an NBA game Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015, in Auburn Hills, Mich. Credit: AP / Duane Burleson

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Lionel Hollins' Nets hadn't taken the court yet when he was asked about the big picture. Someone wondered just how much the Nets could use a win to assuage their hurt pride after a two-point loss to the 76ers 24 hours earlier.

"We needed to stop the bleeding yesterday," Hollins said. "As it goes on, you'd like to get a win. You don't want to get to where you've lost 10 in a row or something like that."

Someone pass the tourniquet. They're halfway there.

Hanging with the surging Pistons proved to be too difficult a task for the Nets, who've certainly fallen on hard times. Saturday night's 98-93 loss to Detroit at the Palace of Auburn Hills still has them in a free fall.

For Nets fans, that's a frightening fact as they embark on a stretch that will match them up against playoff teams in 10 of 12 games beginning Monday against the Rockets.

Losers of a season high-tying five straight games, the Nets (16-21) are on the fringe of dangerous territory.

"We are in a bad rut," said Joe Johnson, who had 17 points. "There's no secret about it and we have to try to find a way to get out of it. We've got a tough stretch of games coming up, starting with Houston on Monday, and it doesn't get any easier. So there's no pity on our side. We've just got to come out and play."

Mason Plumlee and Bojan Bogdanovic, who made his first start since Dec. 8 against Cleveland as Hollins looked to shake things up, each had 14 points. Brook Lopez shot 3-for-9 and had 11 points and 15 rebounds for the Nets, who became unglued late in the fourth quarter, going ice cold from the field and making way too many mistakes.

Brandon Jennings scored all 20 of his points in the second half and had 11 assists for the Pistons (13-24). Greg Monroe added 16 points and 17 rebounds for Detroit, which moved to 8-1 since waiving Josh Smith on Dec. 22.

Darius Morris, who scored a season-high 10 points, brought the Nets within 84-82 when he hit a layup with 4:40 remaining, but that's when it started going south. Detroit kept the Nets at arm's length with a 12-2 spurt punctuated by Jonas Jerebko's three-pointer and grabbed a 96-84 lead.

The Nets missed three straight shots and had two of their five fourth-quarter turnovers during Detroit's game-sealing run, a miserable way to end a contest in which they trailed for the final 18:24.

"We gave ourselves an opportunity the majority of the game," Lopez said. "We had trouble scoring, but I thought we defended well. We kind of just fell off the rails toward the end."

Said Jarrett Jack: "We turned the ball over a lot. That's all it really was."

Other than a too-close-for-comfort 100-98 victory over the Magic in Orlando on Jan. 2, a game in which the Nets nearly coughed up a 25-point lead, there hasn't been much for them to be happy about since the calendar flipped to 2015. So their frame of mind has to be taking a serious hit with each agonizing defeat, right?

"Go ask those guys. I can't get inside their heads," Hollins said. "I'm sure they are frustrated, but we will have to find out when we play again. That's when you determine where a team's psyche is."

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