Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving lead Nets to win over Pistons

The Nets’ defense was inconsistent and unimpressive. But they had just enough star power and just enough shooting to get away with it, and get a 130-123 win over woebegone Detroit.

Brooklyn scored its way to a harder-than-it-should have been victory before 17,559 at Barclays Center.

Kevin Durant poured in a game-high 41 points with 11 rebounds, while Kyrie Irving — in his second home game of the season, and first winning one — added 24 points.

The Nets shot 55.3 percent from the floor, and 15 of 28 from deep. And they needed every iota of that offense despite facing a sorry Pistons team now tied for the worst record in the NBA.

The Nets (40-36) climbed within 2 ½ games of idle seventh-place Cleveland, and 3 ½ of both the fifth-place Bulls and sixth-place Raptors. They pulled a full game ahead of the No. 9 Hornets.

After trailing by 12 points in the second quarter and 60-49 with 3:32 left in the half, a 23-7 run that spanned intermission turned the momentum. And with the score knotted at 108-all with five minutes remaining, Durant untied it by sparking a 7-0 run that proved decisive.

Kevin Durant, who scored 41 points, drives on Killian Hayes during the Nets’ 130-123 win over the Pistons.
NY Post: Charles Wenzelberg

“We have a blueprint, we know we want to be what our identity is,” said Andre Drummond, who had 14 points and 13 rebounds. “Obviously we’re a great offensive team, but if we can hang our hat defensively as well — which we are capable of doing — it’s gonna be tough for teams each and every night.”

It wasn’t tough enough the past few nights.

After the Nets allowed 17 of 32 shooting from deep on Sunday against Charlotte — including 12 of 19 in the second half — they opened this game with similar sieve-like perimeter defense.

After taking a quick 8-2 lead on a Durant 3-pointer, the Nets watched the Pistons (20-56) heat up. Or they let Detroit get hot.

Isaiah Stewart had 10 points on 4 of 4 shooting midway through the first quarter, including a couple of 3-pointers. The Pistons center came into the night just 6 of 31 from behind the arc this season, and the Nets left him wide open. The second-year big man made them pay — at least early on.

Kyrie Irving scored 24 points in the Nets' win over the Pistons.
Kyrie Irving scored 24 points in the Nets’ win over the Pistons.
NY Post: Charles Wenzelberg

By the time Killian Hayes drilled a 25-foot step-back with 7:58 left in the half, Detroit led 53-41. The Nets were allowing 62.5 percent shooting and 9 of 13 from deep.

Steve Nash called a timeout and settled his team. The Nets slowly crawled their way back into the game, forcing the Pistons to miss their last four 3s of the half and cutting the deficit to 64-58 going into the break.

Brooklyn finally put together a couple of stops and came out of the locker room with a 14-3 run.

Irving found Bruce Brown for a 3 and 72-67 lead with 9:19 left in the third.

The rest of the game was tooth-and-nail.

Detroit retook the lead 101-99 on a Fred Jackson bucket, and a reverse by Cade Cunningham (34 points) knotted it at 108-all with 5:09 to play. But that’s when the Nets ran off seven unanswered points to finally put some daylight between themselves and Detroit.

Durant hit a midrange pull-up, and followed on the next trip downcourt with a pair of free throws. After a Cunningham miss, Seth Curry — who has been struggling with an ankle injury and was 0 of 4 from deep to that point — finally broke through with a huge 3-pointer.

It gave the Nets a seven-point lead with 4:01 to play, and they held onto it.

“Do we have work, do we have things to work on defensively and offensively? Absolutely,” Drummond said. “So it’s trying to build chemistry in such a little time with a big goal in front of us. We have a large goal in front of us. We all know what we’re capable of, we know what this can be if we do it, and we’re striving for it.

“So just going in with a sense of urgency each and every night and just trying to make the best of it. We’re not going to be perfect, everybody knows that. But if we play hard and give it give it our best, there’s no reason why we can’t do special things.”


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