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Ish Smith's clutch shot helps Detroit Pistons sink Brooklyn Nets

By Dana Gauruder, The Sports Xchange
Ish Smith's clutch shot helps Detroit Pistons sink Brooklyn Nets
Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy yells during the contest. File photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Coach Stan Van Gundy begged his struggling team for better ball movement. The Detroit Pistons finally listened to him at a crucial moment.

Tobias Harris found Ish Smith in the corner for a go-ahead 3-pointer with 28.5 seconds remaining, and the Pistons snapped a five-game losing streak with a 90-89 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night.

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"We've been talking for weeks and weeks, trying to get us to get the ball to the weak side of the floor more than we have," Van Gundy said. "That's what I said in (the locker room). I said, 'Hey, we've been talking about this for weeks. We still didn't do it enough but when it counted, we got the ball to the weak side.'"

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Smith played one of his best all-around games this season, contributing 21 points, six rebounds and five assists without a turnover for the Pistons (35-41). Detroit has virtually fallen out of the playoff race during its slide, going 1-8 prior to the one-point victory.

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"I wasn't too happy because I missed a lot of easy shots early, a lot of my midrange shots that I usually make," Smith said. "I got them going in the second half but still, I missed some shots I should have made. I'm my biggest critic but it was a good win. Anything we can do to get a win at this point is good and make one more little push."

Van Gundy credited Smith and reserves Beno Udrih and Aron Baynes for staying calm during the tailspin.

"We have three guys who are playing unencumbered every night," he said. "They're just coming and playing and their spirit is right. The frustration hasn't overwhelmed them. The other guys, because they've been struggling a little bit more and little longer, every miss and every turnover takes another little piece of their heart and soul."

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Marcus Morris racked up 28 points and 13 rebounds, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 12 points, and Andre Drummond secured 11 rebounds for Detroit.

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"We barely got this one," Morris said. "To finally just get one, hopefully it can lead to more."

Sean Kilpatrick led the Nets (16-59) with 15 points off the bench. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Jeremy Lin each had 14 points, but Brook Lopez -- who entered averaging 20.7 points per game -- was held to 11 points on 4-for-17 shooting.

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"I don't really think it's what they did," Lopez said. "I think we have to look at ourselves. I forced a lot of stuff tonight when I could have made other players, my teammates better."

The Pistons salvaged the finale of the three-game series after the Nets won twice at home.

Detroit began the fourth with an 11-3 spurt to gain a 70-66 advantage. The lead eventually grew to six on a Morris 3-pointer with 4:57 left.

Brooklyn reeled off the next nine points to gain the lead. Lin's layup tied it with 3:10 remaining. Lopez then made his first 3-pointer after four misses to put the Nets on top, 83-80.

Lopez fired in another following a Morris jump shot to make it 86-82 with 1:32 left. Smith hit a midrange jumper before draining his corner 3-pointer.

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Lopez missed an open 3-point try on the Nets' ensuing possession. Harris then made two free throws with 4.1 seconds on the clock. Caldwell-Pope then forced a Lin turnover and Morris made one of two free throws to seal the win.

Brooklyn's Justin Hamilton tossed in meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer.

"They made some big shots and we didn't," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "Our execution was average at best. I was just disappointed we weren't sharing the ball a little better in general."

NOTES: Brooklyn C Brook Lopez has made 125 3-pointers after hitting just three in his first eight seasons. "It's an easy shot for him," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "It really helps our spacing." ... Pistons PG Reggie Jackson missed his third straight game for rest purposes, though coach Stan Van Gundy has not decided if Jackson will play again this season. Jackson missed the first 21 games because of a knee injury and struggled throughout the season. "He's medically cleared to play," Van Gundy said. ... Nets PF Quincy Acy (left ankle soreness) was sidelined ... Detroit won for just the fourth time in 35 games when scoring under 100 points. ... Pistons reserve SG Reggie Bullock (right foot sprain) sat out for the third straight game. ... The Pistons have won their past four home games against the Nets. ... The last time Brooklyn swept a season series from the Pistons was the 2012-13 season.

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