AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Darrun Hilliard has waited nearly half of his rookie season for a night like this. With the Detroit Pistons down a starter for the first time this season, Hilliard made his first meaningful contribution to a victory.
The second-round pick hit a clutch 3-pointer late in the third quarter and the Pistons pulled away to a 103-89 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night at The Palace. Hilliard's eight points and four rebounds in 20 minutes were all season highs.
Hilliard has followed veteran center Joel Anthony's example of preparing for games, even if there's little chance of playing.
"You go through this process and sometimes its tough. But you just have to stay humble, stay grounded and know your time is coming," said Hilliard, a shooting guard out of Villanova. "Joel, him working hard and staying ready, I just try to base my work ethic off that and it worked out today."
Detroit's first-round pick, Stanley Johnson, played a career-high 39 minutes and made his first start in place of small forward Marcus Morris, who was a late scratch with left knee tendinitis.
Johnson struggled with his shooting but contributed eight points, four rebounds and two steals. The Pistons had started the same lineup all season.
Both rookies were on the court during a 26-10 Detroit outburst spanning the third and fourth quarters that turned a two-point edge into a 90-72 lead.
"He can play just as good as anybody on the team and when he got in, he showed what he could do," Johnson said. "He made multiple shots and made plays defensively and offensively."
The Pistons (21-16), who have won three straight and four of five, also received plenty of production from their usual sources. Center Andre Drummond posted his league-high 31st double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds, point guard Reggie Jackson supplied 23 points and eight assists and power forward Ersan Ilyasova notched his second double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
With home games upcoming against the league's best, San Antonio and Golden State, sandwiching a road trip to Memphis, the Pistons couldn't afford to squander a game against one of the league's worst clubs.
"You need more than five games to claim consistency," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "I did not think we were very good defensively. We weren't awful, but we weren't as good as we've been the last few games. Obviously, this coming week we will need to be a lot better than that against the teams we're playing."
Center Brook Lopez's 19 points and seven rebounds led the Nets (10-27), who have lost four straight and 12 of their last 15. Point guard Donald Sloan contributed a season-high 15 points and 10 assists off the bench, small forward Joe Johnson had 14 points and power forward Thaddeus Young added 12 points and nine rebounds.
Brooklyn lost to Orlando at home on Friday night.
"It has nothing to do with the back-to-back," Lopez said. "We put ourselves in a hole in the first quarter and we were in a deficit the majority of the game. We got back to within six going into the fourth and it got away from us pretty quickly at the start of the period."
The Pistons were a step ahead of them most of the night, outscoring them 26-5 on fast-break points.
"The more misses you have, the more they can get rebounds and run out. That's part of it," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. "They've been playing fast, they've been running and they had a lot of opportunities."
The Nets also altered their starting five. Hollins inserted Markel Brown at shooting guard in place of Bojan Bogdanovic. Brown only played 14 minutes and scored one basket.
NOTES: Nets PF Andrea Bargnani did not play against Orlando on Friday. "We're struggling and I made a decision to go with T-Rob (Thomas Robinson)," Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins said. "We've got to make changes." ... The Pistons are 10th in points allowed at 99.3 per game. "Our defense by the numbers has gotten a lot better," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We were in the bottom 10 last year defensively. We're in the top 10 now." ... Both teams host San Antonio in their next outing - Monday in Brooklyn and Tuesday in Detroit. ... The Nets won eight of the last 12 meetings. ... The Pistons are 16-2 when shooting at least 33 percent on 3-point attempts. ... Nets 34-year-old SF Joe Johnson is averaging a team-high 34.8 minutes. He has played the second-most minutes in the NBA since 2003-04, behind only LeBron James.