Nets beat Pistons as Deron, Brook sit and trade rumors fly

By on December 22, 2014

Before Sunday’s game, Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said he’d rather have faced Lopez than Plumlee, who then shot 9-of-10 and added a pair of blocks.

“As good as Brook is — I think for us, I’d almost like to have him in there,” Van Gundy said of Lopez. “Because with Plumlee, they’re. . . playing a faster tempo.”

The Nets (11-15) matched a season-high with 29 assists, once again featuring a more free-flowing offense without Lopez in the middle.

Struggling rookie Bojan Bogdanovic added 14 points on a trio of 3-pointers off the bench for the Nets, who made 53% of their field goal attempts.

“I thought we did a tremendous job of sharing the ball,” said Jarrett Jack, who started for the first time as a Net and had 15 points and 10 assists.

Point guard Deron Williams (l.) also misses Sunday's game.Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images Point guard Deron Williams (l.) also misses Sunday’s game.

The Nets’ Big Three have been on the trading block for some time now. But while King has made it clear he’s not overseeing a fire sale, the Nets got a brief glimpse of what life would be like without the full troika.

Joe Johnson joined Lopez and Williams in sick bay after he was poked in the eye midway through the third quarter, leaving the game and retreating to the locker room.

But Johnson returned to start the fourth quarter and hit four big free throws in the final seconds.

Plumlee even drained a pair of free throws, normally his weakness, with 1:17 left, part of 10 points he had in the fourth quarter on 4-of-4 shooting.

“There’s no better way to get confidence than to hit (free throws) down the stretch,” said Plumlee, who is averaging 18 points and 10.2 rebounds over the past six games.

Joe Johnson nets 16 points for Brooklyn Sunday.Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images Joe Johnson nets 16 points for Brooklyn Sunday.

The Pistons (5-23) had a chance to go ahead, but Meeks air-balled a 3-pointer with 15.9 seconds left and the Nets clinging to a 104-102 lead.

Johnson was fouled and hit a pair of free throws to put the Nets up 106-102 with 12.5 seconds left.

The Pistons then cut the lead to a point, 106-105, after Kentavious Caldwell-Pope drained a three.

But Johnson (16 points) hit two more free throws with 8.7 seconds left to make it 108-105.

Kevin Garnett then missed two free throws with 6.1 seconds left. But after Detroit’s Josh Smith was fouled with 4.4 seconds remaining, he missed both free throws and Garnett gathered the rebound and was fouled. Garnett made up for the previous misses, hitting both with two seconds left to seal it.

The Nets improved to 10-2 against losing teams. Detroit has lost 17 of its last 19. 

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