Pistons Squeeze By Nets


In a matchup of struggling teams, the Detroit Pistons struggled a little less than the New Jersey Nets.

Grant Hill scored 32 points, and Christian Laettner had 20 and 10 rebounds as the Pistons beat the Nets 109-107 Wednesday night.

The Pistons improved to 3-6, while the Nets lost their fourth straight to fall to 1-7. Detroit rebounded after blowing a fourth-quarter lead the previous night in Toronto.

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Game Summary

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  • "That's as important a game as we will have all year," said Pistons coach Alvin Gentry. "We had a tough loss last night in Toronto, the worst of the year, and I was concerned how well we would bounce back. But we played hard, and we made plays down the stretch."

    Laettner entered the game averaging just 12.3 points and 4.5 rebounds.

    "When Christian is playing that well, it is a big plus for us," Gentry said. "When we can keep him out of foul trouble, we can do a lot of things with him."

    Stephon Marbury led the Nets with 35 points, and Keith Van Horn had 30.

    "We played hard tonight, but until we win some games, I don't think we are close to where we want to be," Marbury said. "All we can do is just keep playing hard."

    Detroit's Jerry Stackhouse missed a baseline jumper with 8 seconds left, and the Nets got the ball with a chance to tie or win.

    Marbury drove past Lindsey Hunter, but his pullup jumper over Laettner bounced off the rim. Jamie Feick's tip also missed, and Perry could't get a shot off before the buzzer.

    "I missed," Marbury said. "There was a lot of contact, but you know you're not going to get that call at the end of the game."

    Hunter said the defense on Marbury worked perfectly.

    "We knew they were going to isolate on him, and I wasn't going to let him hit a 3 to win it," he said. "So I let him drive, because I knew we had a fence up and he was going to have to hit a tough jumper over someone."

    Laettner worried that Marbury would get a foul call, but no whistle blew.

    "I went straight up to block it, so that he wouldn't draw a foul," he said. "You need to get calls like that at home."

    New Jersey led 61-57 at halftime, but Detroit started quickly after the break and took its first lead of the game at 69-67.

    The Pistons led by as many as five, but two 3-pointers by Marbury put New Jersey back in front. Terry Mills hit two jumpers late in the period to put Detroit up 89-87 heading into the final period.

    Both offenses went cold at the start of the fourth, with neither team scoring until Laettner hit one of two free throws with 8:43 left.

    The Pistons missed their first 10 shots of the quarter, but used free throws to extend their lead to 92-87. The Nets finally scored on Marbury's 3-pointer with 7:42 left, but couldn't put any kind of steady offense together.

    Elliot Perry hit a 3-pointer for the Nets, and after Hill hit one of two free throws, Marbury made a pair to pull New Jersey within 100-99 with 3:35 left.

    Laettner's basket gave Detroit a 109-105 lead, and he then blocked Marbury's drive at the other end. But after a Pistons turnover, Marbury made a layup to cut the margin to two and set up the dramatic finish.

    Van Horn scored 13 points in the first period as New Jersey took a 35-25 lead. Detroit closed within four points at the break as Hill scored 14 in the second period.

    Notes

  • The game marked the debut of the Palace's new digital video screens on the main scoreboard. The 9x12 screens replaced the 10-year-old Jumbotron boards.
  • Detroit has only led in the first half of one of their its home games this season.
  • Stackhouse needed one stitch to close a cut on the bridge of his nose in the first half.
  • New Jersey hasn't won at the Palace since Feb. 5, 1994.

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