AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Something about the Brooklyn Nets brings out the best in the Detroit Pistons.
Point guard Brandon Jennings just missed a triple-double with 26 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, lifting the Pistons to a 111-95 win Friday night at The Palace.
Detroit clinched the season series with its third victory over Brooklyn. The Pistons are averaging 107.7 points and 56 points in the paint against the Nets with one game left.
“We’ve been able to exploit our size advantage against them,” Detroit guard Chauncey Billups said.
Josh Smith, who had a significant size advantage at small forward against Brooklyn’s three-guard lineup, also approached a triple-double with 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as six Detroit players reached double figures.
Andre Drummond notched his Eastern Conference-leading 37th double-double with 16 points and a career-high 22 rebounds. The second-year center matched Greg Monroe’s season total last season for the most Pistons double-doubles since the 2003-04 season.
“He’s a load out there,” Billups said. “It’s tough to game-plan for him, with his activity and being so strong and explosive. I’ve been on his behind a little bit defensively. I think he should be a better one-on-one defender. I’ve been riding him about that but the kid, he’s on his way to greatness if he keeps working.”
Swingman Kyle Singler contributed 16 points for the Pistons (20-29), who opened a five-game homestand with a resounding victory following two road losses. Detroit led by as much as 29 before getting lax in the fourth quarter and allowing the Nets to pull within nine.
“We’re never going to play perfect basketball,” Singler said. “What was good to see is we came out in the first half and played well, established ourselves. We’ve just got to play better in the fourth quarter. We’ve said that since the beginning of the year.”
Reserve guard Jason Terry’s season-high 18 points led the Nets (22-26), who had won two straight including a home victory over San Antonio on Thursday.
Guard Joe Johnson added 16 points but only played 22 minutes. Nets coach Jason Kidd sat his listless starters most of the second half, as none played more than 25 minutes.
“We just could not get a rebound or a stop, so I am trying to find guys who can play,” Kidd said.
The Pistons had four players in double figures by halftime as they opened up a 67-44 lead. Smith had a huge first half, racking up 17 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals. He also initiated a rare five-point trip when he dunked after a Nets turnover and was flagrantly fouled by forward Mirza Teletovic.
Smith made the free throw and, after Detroit retained possession, Drummond dunked. That gave Detroit its first 20-point lead at 37-17. The advantage grew to 57-33 on a Smith three-point play.
Jennings scored 13 points during the third when the Pistons led by 29 on four separate occasions.
“It was the same thing that went wrong the last time we played them,” Brooklyn guard Deron Williams said. “They had 40-plus points in the paint and we weren’t getting back in transition defense. They were just running the ball up our throat. We just weren’t ready to play tonight. Our energy wasn’t there, our effort wasn’t there and they seemed to have another gear than us.”
NOTES: Nets F/C Kevin Garnett was rested on the second night of a back-to-back. The 19-year veteran has missed six games this season. … Pistons C Josh Harrellson (2.9 ppg) has a small tear of the meniscus in his left knee, an MRI revealed Friday. Harrellson, who has missed the last three games, will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break. … Nets coach Jason Kidd has used 19 lineups this season and 12 different players as starters. … SG Rodney Stuckey’s 14.0 points per game off the bench is the highest by a Pistons reserve since Vinnie Johnson averaged 15.6 ppg during the 1986-87 season. … Brooklyn had a 13-0 record when holding opponents below 95 points. … The teams complete the four-game season series at Brooklyn’s Barclay Center on April 4. … Pistons PG Chauncey Billups started the second quarter, his first appearance in 12 games. Billups, who rejoined the Pistons as a free agent during the summer after the club traded him in 2008, has played in just 19 games this season. … The Pistons’ 67 first-half points were three shy of their season high. They scored 70 by halftime against Philadelphia on Dec. 1.
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