Pistons hold off Nets 103-99

Andre Drummond is starting to look more comfortable at the foul

line – and on this night, those extra free throws he made turned

out to be crucial.

Drummond had 22 points and 13 rebounds, going 6 of 8 from the

free throw line in Detroit’s 103-99 victory over Brooklyn on Friday

night. The Pistons led by 21 early in the third quarter before

holding off a determined rally by the Nets.

Drummond is shooting 41 percent from the foul line on the season

– and that’s actually a substantial improvement. At one point he

was 3 for 17, but now he’s developed a routine, holding the ball

for several seconds before releasing the shot.

”I work hard at it every day, so the results are going to show

up sooner rather than later,” Drummond said. ”Tonight was an

example of the hard work I put into it.”

The Nets cut their deficit to two before Detroit’s Kyle Singler

made two free throws with 10.4 seconds left. The Pistons snapped a

three-game losing streak and ended Brooklyn’s three-game winning

streak.

Deron Williams led Brooklyn with 22 points. The Nets were

without center Brook Lopez, who sat out with a sprained left

ankle.

”It doesn’t matter who plays for us or who we’re playing, we

have to protect the paint and we didn’t do that tonight,” Nets

coach Jason Kidd said. ”There’s some improvement – we kept

fighting down the stretch even when we got behind – but we can’t

get that far behind.”

Greg Monroe added 22 points for the Pistons, and Rodney Stuckey

had 17.

Detroit outscored the Nets 38-20 in the second quarter and led

61-44 at halftime. Brooklyn’s Mirza Teletovic, who did not attempt

a shot in the first half, scored 17 points in the second, making

his first five shots from 3-point range. His final points pulled

the Nets within 98-91, and a tip-in by Andray Blatche cut the

margin to five.

Teletovic finally missed from beyond the arc, and Blatche missed

two free throws with 1:38 to play. Then Monroe made a hook inside

to make it 100-93 with 54 seconds left.

Williams was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer with 51 seconds

left and made all three shots, cutting the lead to four. After an

offensive foul on Josh Smith, the Nets had a chance to pull even

closer, but Detroit’s Brandon Jennings knocked the ball out of

bounds off Williams’ leg as the Brooklyn guard drove to the basket,

giving the Pistons the ball back with 24 seconds left.

Monroe made one of two free throws with 18.5 seconds to play,

but Paul Pierce’s 3-pointer made it 101-99. Singler calmly went to

the line and made both of his free throws to make it a

two-possession game again.

”We’ve just got to learn from it,” Detroit’s Chauncey Billups

said after the big lead nearly slipped away. ”We’ve got to just

quit playing not to lose the game. … If you do, and you get

hesitant and you get passive and the other team gets aggressive,

that’s what happens.”

With Lopez out, Brooklyn couldn’t do much about Drummond and

Monroe inside. Drummond’s most impressive play may have been when

he tipped the ball back over his head and into the basket with one

hand after Jennings missed everything on a wild shot from the

perimeter. That gave the Pistons a 50-39 lead.

Drummond had 18 points and seven rebounds at the half, and

Stuckey had 16 points. In the third quarter, Drummond missed a dunk

along the baseline but was able to tip the ball in almost

immediately to give Detroit a 74-55 lead.

”That front line is tough,” Blatche said. ”They are great

offensive rebounders and they just pounded us out there. The guards

are driving to the basket and the bigs are just all over the

boards. We definitely missed Brook, because at least he’s a big

body out there.”

Brooklyn’s Kevin Garnett surpassed 14,000 rebounds in the second

half. He joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone as the only

players to reach 25,000 points, 14,000 rebounds and 5,000

assists.

NOTES: Stuckey scored a season-high 27 points in a win at

Brooklyn last month. Joe Johnson, who had 34 points for the Nets in

that game, was held to 12 on 5-of-16 shooting on Friday. …

Garnett was called for a technical foul in the second quarter, and

Blatche was called for flagrantly fouling Drummond with 2:27 left

in the half.