Pistons-Nets Preview

Now that New Jersey’s pursuit of superstar Carmelo Anthony has

ended, the relieved Nets can finally move forward.

So too can the Detroit Pistons, another club involved in the

failed three-team deal.

After snapping their latest skid, the Nets can match their win

total from last season when they host the Pistons on Friday


Hours after New Jersey owner Mikhail Prokhorov announced the

club halted its attempt to trade for the Denver Nuggets’ star, the

Nets (11-31) snapped a six-game skid with a 103-95 home win over

Utah on Wednesday.

In addition to money, Prokhorov said the deal had became too

public and was playing out longer than he hoped.

While Wednesday’s victory was New Jersey’s second in 13 games

since posting consecutive wins Dec. 19-21, it also was a sign of

the team’s collective relief knowing it could remain intact.

The projected deal involved as many as eight New Jersey players.

The Nets’ Troy Murphy and Johan Petro would have gone to Detroit

for disgruntled swingman Richard Hamilton.

“We’re going to have less distractions now and just puts our

minds at ease,” said guard Devin Harris, who appeared headed to

Denver. “We can move forward and hopefully have more wins like

this. We weren’t exactly walking on egg shells, but with everyone

talking about it, asking about it and writing about it, well, it

does get annoying. It was a tough situation for all of us.”

Brook Lopez scored 11 of his 20 points in a 29-point third

quarter while Harris added 14 with eight assists as the Nets shot

49.3 percent and reached 100 points for the second straight


Though New Jersey has the second-worst record in the Eastern

Conference, it is much improved from the club that had three wins

at this time last season.

“We’ll keep developing the players we have and keep improving,”

coach Avery Johnson said.

The Nets look to further improve with a third straight victory

overall and at home against Detroit (15-27).

Lopez scored 25 points and Harris had 22 with nine assists in

New Jersey’s 101-98 season-opening victory over the Pistons on Oct.

27. Lopez has averaged 29.7 points in his last three home games

versus Detroit.

The Pistons had their season-high three-game winning streak

snapped in Wednesday’s 86-82 loss at Boston. Detroit shot 41.9

percent after making 52.4 percent of its shots while averaging

104.7 points during the winning stretch.

Despite the loss, the Pistons still believe they are making

strides in the right direction.

“We competed with the best team in the East, and one of the

better teams in this league, on their home court,” said Pistons

guard Tracy McGrady, who has started the last five games. “If we

can give this type of effort night-in and night-out, we’re going to

give ourselves a chance. We just have to learn how to close out

games and to execute down the stretch.”

Detroit likely needs McGrady to get back track after he totaled

13 points on 6-of-16 shooting in his last three contests following

a two-game stretch where he scored 38 and made 14 of 28 shots.

McGrady went scoreless on three shots in 13 minutes off the

bench at New Jersey in October.

Averaging a disappointing 13.2 points, Hamilton has not played

the last five games amid talk his days with Detroit could be