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Detroit Pistons keep it close but James Harden steers Brooklyn Nets to victory

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The Detroit Pistons continue to play well against some of the top teams in the league.

You just won’t win every time. Even if they don’t win, it’s worth watching.

Against the Brooklyn Nets, who had already defeated the Pistons this season, they had again made great efforts and came to a point in the last two minutes.

Brooklyn Nets forward Jeff Green, 8, and security guard Landry Shamet (20) battle Detroit Pistons security guard Saben Lee, 38, for a rebound in the first half.

James Harden carried the nets on the final stretch, scoring all 10 points and leading the nets to a 100-95 victory on Saturday night at the Barclays Center. It is the third consecutive loss for the Pistons (10-28), who will play their next two games at Little Caesars Arena.

Jerami Grant had 22 points, Saddiq Bey and Delon Wright added 13 points each, and Mason Plumlee had 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

Harden scored a triple-double with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as the Nets (26-13) battled out of 3-point (6-of-27) but had enough to get one on the final stretch late flask to keep from charging.

“He’s done what he always does and is making it difficult to defend,” Wright said. “We just couldn’t get away with enough stops.”

The Nets had a 90-81 lead at 5:11 after a run from Kyrie Irving (18 points and five assists) but the Pistons rebounded with a 10-0 run. Wright and Wayne Ellington hit consecutive 3-pointers and Rodney McGruder (10 points and seven rebounds) added a lay-in on the next possession. After Plumlee’s 3:03 immersion, the pistons took the lead.

BOX SCORE: nets 100, pistons 95

That was when Harden shifted into high gear and made two free throws. Plumlee shared a pair of free throws and Harden hit the basket on consecutive possessions, increasing the lead to 96-92.

Bey made one of two free throws, and Harden scored again on one run, five points ahead. The last gasp of the pistons was a basket from Plumlee, but Harden again responded with two more free throws for the final lead.

Here are some observations from the loss:

►Rodney McGruder was one of the first reserves to come into play and was productive and efficient in his 28 minutes – most of all reserves. McGruder didn’t find much playing time early in the season, but he’s made a steady contribution from the bench averaging 9.3 points in his last four games.

“He’s just a glue, one of those who knows how to play and is competitive … I love the way he plays,” Casey said.

►The pistons had a stretch of 19 straight missed 3-pointers extending from the first to the third quarter. They finished the game 8 out of 32 but managed to stay close for most of the game despite the poor shooting.

“We look great and our offense consists of 3 point shooting. To beat a team like this you have to do 3s, ”said Casey. “I was encouraged with our defense, but to win today’s game you have to take 3-point shots.”

►Landry Shamet (15 points) helped keep the nets afloat, with eight straight points in the latter part of the third quarter when the pistons closed within one with a 14-3 run. Shamet hit a jumper and then added 3 pointers in a row, pushing the lead back to nine. It ended the third quarter on a 3-hand, increasing the lead to 12 before the piston surge in the fourth quarter.

►After the deal with Svi Mykhailiuk announced on Saturday, the pistons were a little understaffed, which opened the door for some of the McGruder minutes. It will be some time before Hamidou Diallo can join the Pistons and before he can play as he sustained a groin injury. Casey likes Diallo’s athleticism and notes, “You can’t teach length, toughness and size.”

►Many fans were looking forward to a matchup in which Blake Griffin competed against his former team for the first time. It should not be. Griffin is still working his way back in shape and has been off the lineup for a while, especially considering he hasn’t played in a game in over a month. The nets hold one of the best records in the east and don’t have to knock Griffin back until he’s ready to go. The final head-to-head meeting will be on March 26th at the Little Caesars Arena.

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Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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Dusty Kennedy