If anyone in the Detroit organization was beginning to trick themselves into thinking the Pistons were ready for a playoff push, Kyrie Irving put an end to it. Irving scored 45 points and took over in overtime to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 121-111 win over the Detroit Pistons.
The Nets outscored the Pistons 15-5 including a quick 6-0 start thanks to three consecutive foul calls that gave Iriving four points at the charity stripe, a Pistons turnover and a jumper for Spencer Dinwiddie.
It pretty much sealed the game, and with it the Pistons’ playoff hopes. Detroit had played better during a recent soft spot in the schedule. The defense was respectable, the offense was top tier and the record was 4-6.
The Nets were 2.5 games up on Detroit for the eighth spot in the East, but with tonight’s win, if Brooklyn wins tomorrow they will be four games up on Detroit.
And the Pistons have one of the toughest schedules remaining in the NBA.
It’s not all bad news, however. Actually, for many, a loss to the Nets is good news.
It puts more space between Detroit and the team above them in the standings, makes them more likely to sell off veterans and if you’re actually going to rebuild every loss counts.
More important than any of that, however, is that a lot of the young players for Detroit played well.
Svi Mykhailiuk had 19 points and Bruce Brown added 17 points in the starting lineup. Svi is still trying to build out his offensive game beyond catch-and-shoot 3s, and results are mixed, but he looks more comfortable every night.
Brown retained some ball handling and point guard duties with Reggie Jackson out on the second night of a back-to-back, and he chipped in five assists to just one turnover. He also his three 3s and was 7-of-12 from the floor overall.
The other young Pistons starter, Sekou Doumbouya was a no-show tonight and it looks like the 19-year-old might just be a little overwhelmed right now.
Jordan Bone got nearly 3 first-half minutes, a rare and welcome sight. And Christian Wood played 21 strong minutes off the bench with 10 points, four rebounds, a block and crunch time minutes alongside Andre Drummond.
Drummond had 20 points and 21 rebounds, and Derrick Rose led Detroit with 27 points and six assists.
In true Rose fashion, he was the source of the best and worst of the Pistons against the Nets. This was most clear late in the game when the Pistons were down two and Rose had the ball with less than a minute left.
Rose lost control of his dribble and gave it up to the Nets, and Detroit’s chances of stealing a win plummeted. The Nets had issues of their own on the other end and after a too-early Irving shot careened off the rim into the corner, Dinwiddie saved the ball from going out of bounds.
Only, Dinwiddie tossed the ball toward mid-court and Rose was able to snag the loose ball and drive it coast-to-coast for a game-tying layup with 1.9 seconds to go.
But then overtime happened. And that’s when Detroit’s offense self-destructed.
That’s when the Nets, desperate for a win after losing 12-of-14 including two other overtime contests, decided they weren’t going to settle for another loss.
Irving scored his 45 points on 30 shots and added six rebounds and seven assists. Jarrett Allen also shined with some sparkling interior defense and smart rolls to the basket. He had 20 points and 15 rebounds on the night.
The Pistons next play the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday in a ... is it a must win or a must lose? I dunno, but it’s a must something.