Nets begin forgiving stretch at Detroit

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The Brooklyn Nets were three games above .500 just more than a month ago. Their record has gone south since then, but a stretch of games against losing teams could help turn around things.

Brooklyn’s next seven opponents are well below .500, beginning with the host Detroit Pistons on Saturday.

The Nets have lost 12 of their past 14 games, including five straight. All of their recent losses came against quality opponents — Utah, Philadelphia (twice), Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Brooklyn has given up at least 117 points in each game during the five-game slide, including a 128-113 home loss to the Lakers on Thursday.

“We just have to fight even more — that’s really what it comes down to,” guard Kyrie Irving said. “We have to have that mentality coming into games that although we are undersized at times in matchups, we still have to do the little things — boxing out, getting out in transition, shooting open shots and just making good decisions. We don’t have a lot of room for error.”

They might have a little more leeway the next two weeks. They’ll face the Pistons twice along with New York, Chicago, Washington, Phoenix and Golden State.

Forward Taurean Prince believes the Nets become discouraged too easily when things go badly.

“Our ability to move onto the next play and not allow things to snowball … into even worse situations,” Prince said of the Nets’ biggest issue. “In these games, we’re right there. It’s just minor slip-ups as a team that we can fix. That’s the good part about it, but if we don’t make those slip-ups, we’re in every game.”

Irving’s return from a shoulder injury has not provided the desired jolt. The Nets are 1-4 in the five games he has played this month.

Coach Kenny Atkinson is more concerned with his players hustling on defense. Brooklyn was outscored in each quarter by the Lakers.

“We couldn’t really figure out our transition defense,” he said, “even on dead balls, which is very frustrating to me as a coach. They exploited us continuously in transition defense. Third game in a row where we really struggled there.”

The Pistons beat the Nets 113-109 on Nov. 2 at Detroit in the first of four meetings between the teams this season.

It remains to be seen how many players will be in uniform Saturday for the banged-up Pistons.

Detroit had to go without center Andre Drummond and starting wings Bruce Brown and Tony Snell in a 125-112 loss to the visiting Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.

Drummond sat out for the second straight game after getting elbowed in the mouth at Washington on Monday. Brown and Snell were sidelined by the flu.

The Pistons have already lost their biggest star, Blake Griffin, to season-ending knee surgery, and swingman Luke Kennard (knee) also has been sidelined this month.

“It’s going to be a challenge for us,” coach Dwane Casey said. “At the same time, guys like Svi (Mykhailiuk), guys like Christian Wood and guys like Sekou (Doumbouya) have to continue to get better.”

The Pistons were tied with the Grizzlies at 101 but got outscored 24-11 the rest of the way.

“Our defensive mishaps down the stretch, not switching when we’re supposed to, all the things you don’t do against a quality team like Memphis,” Casey said. “They’ve got a high-powered offense led by a young man (Ja Morant) who’s going to be a star in our league.”

–Field Level Media

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