Sat, Mar 20, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Pistons slam door on `careless' Nets

FIRM DEFENSE New Jersey's Kenyon Martin said that the Nets were unlucky to lose, but Pistons' coach Larry Brown can point to some excellent defensive play by his players

AP , EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY

Detroit Pistons guard Chauncey Billups, right, hits a layup over New Jersey Nets guard Jason Kidd, left, in the fourth quarter in their NBA game on Thursday in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

PHOTO: REUTERS

The Detroit Pistons gave another stifling defensive effort on Thursday, following coach Larry Brown's instructions to perfection in an 89-71 victory over the New Jersey Nets.

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

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

"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."

Chauncey Billups scored 20 points, Rasheed Wallace had 16 and Richard Hamilton 15 for the Pistons, who had held their previous five opponents under 70 points. They almost made it six in succession, but the Nets got a tip-in with 1.1 seconds remaining to surpass 70.

The Pistons held the Nets to 35 percent shooting, forced 17 turnovers and outrebounded the Nets 47-37.

SuperSonics 97, Grizzlies 94

In Memphis, Tennessee, Vladimir Radmanovic and Ray Allen had 19 points each as Seattle beat Memphis.

The SuperSonics led until the fourth quarter, when the Grizzlies staged 14-2 run to take a 78-76 advantage on a dunk by Pau Gasol with 6:10 left. Seattle regained the lead for good at 90-88 with 1:33 left on a jumper by Radmanovic.

The Grizzlies were led by Gasol with 21 points and 15 rebounds.

Spurs 106, Timberwolves 86

In San Antonio, Tim Duncan, nursing a sore left knee, had 22 points and 10 rebounds in his first game as a reserve as San Antonio thrashed Minnesota.

Duncan, who missed nine of the Spurs' past 10 games with a left knee injury, had started all 506 games of his NBA career before Thursday. He played 27 minutes, shooting only 6-for-15 from the floor, but making 10 of 15 free throws.

The victory trimmed the Timberwolves' lead in the Midwest Division to 1 1/2 games over the Spurs, who had lost two straight.

Kevin Garnett led Minnesota with 28 points and 12 rebounds.

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