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Nets held to 35 percent shooting

3/19/2004

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The Detroit Pistons' five-game
sub-70 streak came to an end, though the New Jersey Nets went a bit
overboard to halt it.

The Nets committed an intentional foul to stop the clock with
13.1 seconds left, and Aaron Williams made a tip-in with 1.1
seconds remaining in an 89-71 loss to the Pistons on Thursday
night.

Williams pumped his fist after he scored.

"Maybe that was bigger to them than winning the game. That's
what it seemed like to us," Rasheed Wallace said. "They were down
there cheering, so hey, let them worry about that. We got what we
came for."

Detroit gained a split of the season series and moved two games
ahead of New Jersey in the conference standings -- important if the
teams, all but locked into the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds, meet in the
second round of the playoffs.

Chauncey Billups scored 20 points, Rasheed Wallace had 16 and
Richard Hamilton 15 for the Pistons, who held the Nets to 35
percent shooting, forced 17 turnovers and outrebounded them 47-37.

"They're not better than us," New Jersey's Kenyon Martin said.
"They had a decent ballgame today, and we had some careless
turnovers, but they're not better than us by any means. Hopefully
we'll see them down the line and show them who's the better team."

On the chalkboard in the locker room, Brown had written the
message: "Make them a shooting team, not a layup team." He listed
five keys to winning, including limiting the Nets' fast-break
points and taking away their backdoor cuts and lob passes.

Detroit did not allow a fast-break bucket in the first half
while opening a 19-point lead, nor did the Pistons allow the Nets
to attempt much of anything from inside 15 feet throughout the
game.

The Pistons' sub-70 streak was unprecedented in league history,
as no team had ever done it three times, much less five.

Detroit's defensive intensity began to get to the Nets in the
second quarter as they forced six turnovers in the first 5½ minutes
and began to pull away. A fast-break layup by Mike James produced
the first 10-point lead, 35-25, and a 3-pointer by Billups
completed a 25-6 run that put the Pistons ahead 48-29.

"There was a period in the second quarter when we defended as
well as you could ever defend," Brown said.

The Nets had trouble closing the gap as the Pistons continued to
outwork them in the third quarter. Billups hit a 3-pointer for a
59-46 lead after Detroit grabbed three offensive rebounds on one
possession, and the Nets didn't get their first fast-break basket
until Martin's dunk with 5:03 left in the period.

Detroit took a 68-56 lead into the fourth quarter, and the Nets
missed their first six shots.

Richard Hamilton ended a Pistons' scoring drought that lasted
more than seven minutes by making a 23-footer for a 70-59 lead
before Richard Jefferson hit consecutive jumpers to cut the Nets'
deficit to seven.

Rasheed Wallace answered with a 3-pointer, Ben Wallace stole an
entry pass by Kidd and Corliss Williamson converted a fast-break
layup. Ben Wallace then drew a charge against Martin, and
Williamson scored over two defenders on a post-up.

The lead was back to 15, and the only question after that was
whether the Nets would reach 70.

Coach Lawrence Frank had the Nets intentionally foul Ben Wallace
as the clock ticked inside 3½ minutes, but the 51 percent foul
shooter foiled the strategy by rattling in four straight free
throws.

The Nets intentionally fouled the Pistons with 13.6 seconds
remaining to get one more offensive possession, and Williams tipped
in Hubert Davis' missed jumper.

"Maybe you're not always, at the end of the game, thinking
rationally," Frank said, somewhat second-guessing himself. "But
at the same time you still have your pride."

Only one of the five opponents held below 70 had a winning
record, and the Nets represented a much tougher class of
competition from what Detroit had been seeing.

Of the previous 11 opponents, Denver was the only above-.500
team when it played the Pistons.

"I don't know if we've played the likes of Indiana or New
Jersey or some of the better teams, but that shouldn't take away
from the fact that we're defending well," Brown said. "Other
teams in the league have had this chance for all these years, so I
think our guys should be pretty proud of what they did."

Notes: Jefferson led the Nets with 19 points. ... Frank said Kidd
(sore knee) and Martin (knee tendinitis) might sit out Friday's
game against the New York Knicks. ... The crowd got on Rasheed
Wallace when he was called for a technical foul early in the third
quarter. Wallace responded by pointing to the scoreboard, which
showed the Pistons ahead by 15.