Pistons overcome offensive struggles to down Nets

AUBURN HILLS — The Pistons didn’t have an impressive offensive performance Saturday night.

Stan Van Gundy didn’t mind a bit.

Playing their fourth game in five nights, the Pistons struggled all night to make shots but were still able to pick up a 98-93 win over the slumping Brooklyn Nets.

"I thought we got good shots all night, but we didn’t have the legs to knock them down," Van Gundy said after his team shot just 42.5 percent, including 11-for-33 on 3-pointers. "It looked like they were having the same problem, and that’s why people talk about changing some things with the NBA schedule. We were playing our fourth in five and they were playing their fifth game in seven nights. 

"When you’ve got two teams doing that, plus travel, that’s what games are going to look like."

Unlike Friday night, when the Pistons demolished a franchise record by trying 43 3-pointers in a loss to Atlanta, Van Gundy was fine with Saturday’s 33 triples. A month ago, the Pistons had never tried more than 32 threes in a game, but they’ve now had five games of 33 or more.

"Last night, there were several shots where I just asked myself ‘What the hell was that?’, but I didn’t have that feeling tonight," he said. "When you coach a team that takes a lot of threes, if you make them, people rave about your ball movement and energy, and if you miss them, they complain that you are settling. We were taking 27 a night during the winning streak, but we were hitting 40 percent, so it was good. Tonight, we had those kind of looks — we just didn’t hit them."

With both teams low on energy and reduced to throwing up long jumpers — Brooklyn went 9-for-31 from behind the arc — the game came down to which team could find enough effort for a defensive stand. That finally happened late in the fourth quarter, when a pair of steals by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope broke the game open.

"Those were huge plays, because they were still in it at that point," Van Gundy said. "We got those two layups, and then Brandon and Jonas hit a pair of huge threes to give us an 11-point lead and we were able to finish it off."

That was too much for the Nets, who lost all five games in this seven-day stretch. They got back Kevin Garnett, who was rested during Friday’s loss to Philadelphia, but he only managed two points in 17 minutes while Jarrett Jack went 2-for-12, including 1-for-8 on 3-pointers.

"This was big," said Kyle Singler. "Coach said after last night’s game that we weren’t falling back into losing and going backward. We knew Brooklyn was going to come in and play us tought, and it took a while for us to get a good flow going, but we played well enough to win."