NEWARK, N.J. (AP/CBSNewYork) — New Jersey Nets coach Avery Johnson intended to keep shooting guard Anthony Morrow on a strict minutes count in his first game since mid-December.
Nothing was going to change that, until Morrow found his shooting touch.
Morrow scored all 10 of the points during a key second-half run to lead the Nets to an 89-74 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.
“I was just about to take him out of the game,” Johnson said after the Nets won their 12th of the season, tying the total they had last season (12-70) when they were the NBA’s worst team.
“He was coming up on his minute restriction,” Johnson said. “He was struggling a little bit getting up and down the floor. When he made that 3, I said ‘OK, we’ll leave him in there.’ I ran a play for him and he made it. I ran another and he made it. It was good that he gave us a nice cushion.”
Morrow, who had been sidelined since pulling a hamstring against Philadelphia on Dec. 14, outscored Detroit 10-2 in the game-deciding run that started in the closing seconds of the third quarter.
Detroit got within 64-60 on a free throw by Jason Maxiell with 22 seconds left in the period before Morrow took a pass from Kris Humphries and nailed a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left for his first points of the game.
“I knew Hump was going to pass it to me,” Morrow said. “It was the end of the quarter. It gave us some momentum. Any time you make a shot like that as a shooter or scorer, you get some momentum going.”
Morrow, who missed his first four shots, added two jumpers and another 3-pointer early in the fourth to push the lead to 74-62 with 10:16 left in the game.
“I just wanted to get those first few shots out of the way,” Morrow said. “I just kept plugging. I was glad I could contribute and help the team win.”
Brook Lopez had 15 points, Devin Harris added 12 and nine assists, and Humphries had 11 points and 12 rebounds in helping New Jersey win its second straight game since owner Mikhail Prokhorov ordered the team to end its trade talks with Denver and Detroit on a megadeal that would have landed Carmelo Anthony in New Jersey.
Tayshaun Prince had 16 points for Detroit, which was limited to 14 points on 3-of-15 shooting in the final quarter.
“It’s very disappointing, but that’s been the story of this year, just inconsistent,” Pistons guard Ben Gordon said. “In the NBA, that is not going to cut it.”
New Jersey hit six of its first seven shots in the fourth quarter and made all the little plays that proved the difference in winning for only the third time in 14 games.
Morrow’s second 3-pointer came after Harris hustled down the court after a Nets turnover and knocked the ball away from a Detroit player, setting up a break at the other end.
“In the fourth quarter we didn’t have a rhythm,” Gordon said. “That’s pretty much the game right there. They just came in and had the momentum. We didn’t and they built on it.”
New Jersey, which is now 5-1 with Prokhorov in attendance, expanded its lead to 83-66 on a 3-pointer by Sasha Vujacic with about five minutes to go and the Pistons never recovered.
Veteran guard Richard Hamilton was supposed to come to New Jersey as part of the big deal. However, he did not play for a sixth straight game because he has fallen out of coach John Kuester’s rotation.
NOTES: Tracy McGrady of the Pistons and Vujacic were called for a double technical at the end of the first half for yapping at each other after McGrady hit a shot at the buzzer. … Detroit’s Charlie Villanueva sprained his left ankle in the first half and did not play in the second half.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)