(AP) — The New Jersey Nets controlled the paint in two home wins over the Detroit Pistons this season. Picking up another victory in the season series, though, could prove difficult at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
The Nets have lost 11 straight on the road and seven in a row at The Palace heading into Friday night’s matchup with the Pistons, losers of four straight.
This is the third meeting between New Jersey (15-35) and Detroit (17-32). The Nets enjoyed advantages of 44-37 on the glass and 48-34 in points in the paint in a 101-98 win in the teams’ season opener Oct. 27. The margins were 44-35 in rebounding and 38-26 in points in the paint in an 89-74 victory Jan. 21.
New Jersey, though, continues to struggle on the road. The Nets, who had three road skids of at least 10 games during their 70-loss season of 2009-10, have not won away from Newark since Dec. 21.
The Pistons have not lost at home to the Nets since March 26, 2006. Detroit is hoping to move into playoff contention with nine of its 13 February games at home.
That stretch, however, got off to a bad start with a 97-87 loss to visiting Charlotte on Wednesday.
“This was a tough one and the reason it was a tough one is that we knew were taking care of home court,” coach John Kuester said. “It was important for us to really get after this one.”
Detroit was missing Rodney Stuckey (shoulder) and Jason Maxiell (back) while Richard Hamilton – the subject of trade rumors – has not played in 12 games. Ben Gordon scored 20 points and Tayshaun Prince added 16, but the Pistons were outrebounded 46-30.
“We need to regroup, and we’ll be able to do that when we get Stuck back,” Kuester said. “We’ve got a lot of basketball left.”
Gordon, averaging 25.3 points while starting the last three games, has averaged 7.8 points and 39.4 percent shooting in his last five against the Nets.
The Pistons may have to worry about resurgent Nets swingman Anthony Morrow, scoring 14.7 points per game and shooting 66.7 percent over his last three. The reserve hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 26 seconds left in the season opener and scored 10 points during a key second-half run in last month’s win over Detroit.
The Nets showed some frustration in falling 106-92 to Philadelphia on Wednesday. Coach Avery Johnson had not been called for a technical foul all season before picking up two for arguing that guard Devin Harris was getting fouled.
“In the first half, I thought Devin made one or two drives and just didn’t get rewarded for his hard effort,” Johnson said. “The same thing happened in the third quarter. It was the same situation, the same person. I just had a difference of opinion.”
Harris had 16 points but just seven assists. He had totaled 34 assists in his previous two games.
Updated February 3, 2011
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