Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/9

Game 1: Sunday, November 9th
Game 2: Friday, December 26th
Game 3: Tuesday, February 10th
Game 4: Thursday, March 18th

Pistons 89

(44-25, 21-15 away)

Nets 71

(41-26, 24-10 home)

7:00 PM ET, March 18, 2004

IZOD Center, East Rutherford, NJ

1 2 3 4 T
DET 20 34 14 2189
NJ 19 16 21 1571

Top Performers

Det: C. Billups 20 Pts, 5 Reb, 8 Ast, 1 Stl

NJ: K. Martin 13 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 Blk

Nets held to 35 percent shooting

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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 89 71
FGM-FGA 33-73 (.452) 24-68 (.353)
3PM-3PA 6-9 (.667) 3-13 (.231)
FTM-FTA 17-20 (.850) 20-33 (.606)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 15-47 16-37
Assists 22 12
Turnovers 18 17
Steals 10 9
Blocks 4 7
Fast Break Points 4 2
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (1/0) 23 (0/0)

Top Performers

New Jersey
Chauncey Billups Billups
Points: 20
Reb: 5
Ast: 8
Stl: 1
Blk: 0
Kenyon Martin Martin
Points: 13
Reb: 7
Ast: 2
Stl: 0
Blk: 3