Nets' rally falls short in loss to lowly Pistons
There were several explanations the Nets could have offered for their 130-122 loss to the lowly Pistons on Thursday night at Barclays Center.
They were on the second night of a back-to-back and coming off an emotional, intense loss to the 76ers the night before.
They endured more injuries. Seth Curry did not play because of a sore knee and Ben Simmons and T.J. Warren suffered knee injuries during the game.
And, of course, there was the knee injury that has kept Kevin Durant out for eight games, in which the Nets are 2-6.
But coach Jacque Vaughn was having none of it. He said the Nets came into the game expecting nothing less than to win and that there were no reasons good enough for their failure to do so.
“There are no excuses,” he said. “We all play the same amount of games throughout the course of the year and the schedule dictates its own self for each team.
“We gave effort in Philadelphia yesterday and the expectation is what we always talk about: It was to win this basketball game. So the people who suited up, the people who played, the people who stepped on the floor, had an opportunity to impact the basketball game for their team.”
The Nets fell to 29-19. The Pistons are 13-37, the second-worst record in the NBA.
Kyrie Irving scored 40 points, his fifth consecutive game with at least 30, tying the longest such streak of his career. He has 14 40-point games as a Net, second only to Vince Carter’s 17.
Nic Claxton scored 27 points, shot 11-for-13 and had 13 rebounds. It was his third straight game setting a career high in points. Edmond Sumner also had a career high with 24 points off the bench.
Saddiq Bey’s 25 points and nine rebounds led the feisty Pistons. Former Knick Alec Burks added 20 points.
It was a frustrating night for the Nets, who never were able to assert themselves and trailed by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter.
They finished with 16 turnovers and allowed 43 points in the third quarter — the seventh time this season they have allowed a 40-point quarter and their second in two nights.
Irving said that when Durant is on the floor, he can cover up a lot of mistakes, but he said the Nets were caught “flat-footed” in that third quarter.
“We just have to figure out how to slide our puppies a little bit better and stay in front of people and stop fouling people so often,” he said.
Just before the game began, Irving and Durant were named NBA All-Star Game starters. The Nets are the only team with two All-Star starters. Durant has been chosen in each of the last 13 seasons in which he has played. It is Irving’s eighth such honor.
Irving thanked fans for voting for him and his coaches and teammates for helping him earn the All-Star nod.
The Nets led 59-58 at halftime, and it appeared they were in position to take charge from there. They did not.
The Pistons scored the first six points of the second half and led 75-64 four minutes into the third quarter.
Simmons left the game for good in the third because of left knee soreness and finished with no points and seven assists in 19:47.
Every time the Nets seemed as if they might get back into it, the Pistons held them off, including after Sumner got the Nets to within 127-122 with 37.1 seconds left. But they got no closer.
Where do the Nets go from here, given their growing problems? Irving is not sure.
“Whoever’s available for us to play will be available, and just move on to the next game,” he said. “As much as I would love to sit up here and give you [reporters] a nice diatribe on what it will look like in the future, I just don’t know.”