Pistons 99, Nets 92
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP)
The Detroit Pistons weren't expecting much from Jonas Jerebko this season.
After all, Jerebko was one of three small forwards the Pistons drafted - a position already held by iron-man Tayshaun Prince.
However, Prince's injuries and the struggles of fellow rookies Austin Daye and DaJuan Summers gave Jerebko a chance, and the NBA's first Swedish player has taken advantage. He has played every position from point guard to power forward and is third on the team in minutes.
Saturday, Jerebko scored 20 points on 9-for-9 shooting as the Pistons snapped a five-game home losing streak with a 99-92 victory over the New Jersey Nets.
``Jonas just had another phenomenal game,'' Detroit coach John Kuester said. ``You have to give him a lot of credit.''
Detroit is used to having Swedish sports heroes, but they generally play for the Red Wings, led by captain Nicklas Lidstrom. Jerebko, though, has gained his own following at the Palace of Auburn Hills, including a Viking horn that blows after each of his baskets.
Against the Nets, Jerebko did all his shooting in the first three quarters before giving way to Jason Maxiell.
``I just felt good tonight,'' Jerebko said. ``The first 3-pointer went down, and after that, I just kept going. You have to love these games.''
Maxiell had nine points and four rebounds in the fourth quarter as Detroit fought off a Nets rally.
``Max really had it going at the end, and that's why we rode him instead of going back to Jonas,'' Kuester said. ``I was happy to see that, because he started off slowly.''
Detroit has won only two of its last eight, both in the last five days over New Jersey, and were coming off a 24-point loss in Indiana on Friday.
``I wish I knew the answer,'' Kuester said. ``After we beat New Jersey, I was so looking forward to the Indiana game, but we didn't play with the intensity we did tonight. We know that we play hard and share the basketball, we give ourselves a chance.''
The Nets lost their 14th straight on the road and are 1-26 away from home this season.
``Detroit got off to that great shooting start, but we got ourselves back into the game and had a chance down the stretch,'' Nets coach Kiki Vandeweghe said. ``We just made too many silly mistakes down the stretch.''
Things went from bad to worse for the Nets in the final minute as they lost two starters after a vicious collision while chasing a loose ball. Jarvis Hayes sustained a badly bruised left shin and Devin Harris sprained his left shoulder. X-rays were negative on both, and neither is expected to miss significant time.
``We were both going hard for the ball, and we hit hard,'' Hayes said after limping into the locker room several minutes after his teammates. ``They said I'm going to have to stay off it for a while, but I don't plan to miss any games.''
Richard Hamilton added 17 points for Detroit, while Rodney Stuckey had 10 points and 11 assists.
Harris led New Jersey with 21 points, while Brook Lopez added 20.
Detroit dominated the first half with a rare strong shooting performance. The Pistons hit 60.5 percent from the floor and added six offensive rebounds to take a 56-47 lead. Jerebko had 13 in the half, while Charlie Villanueva added 12 on 4-for-4 shooting from 3-point range.
New Jersey stayed close in the third quarter, but Detroit got a buzzer-beating jumper from Will Bynum to take a 78-71 advantage into the fourth.
The Nets, though, scored the first seven points of the fourth to tie the game on Terrence Williams' dunk with 10 minutes left. New Jersey led briefly, but Hamilton's 3-pointer helped Detroit move the lead back to 93-87.
``This was one we felt like we could have had,'' Hayes said. ``We just couldn't put it away.''
NOTES: The Pistons made their first seven 3-point attempts, with the streak ending on Stuckey's long-range attempt at the halftime buzzer. ... New Jersey's only road win came Dec. 8 at Chicago. ... The Nets are now 1-42 when scoring fewer than 100 points.