Nets start six-game trip against struggling Pistons

NBA Basketball

The Brooklyn Nets haven’t gone on the road for nearly two weeks. That will change this weekend as they embark on a six-game journey through five states and across the border.

Brooklyn begins the road swing in Detroit on Friday and will also visit Toronto, Chicago, Orlando, New Orleans and Oklahoma City over the next 10 days.

The Nets completed a six-game homestand with four victories, including a 117-108 triumph over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.

“We played well, and we’ve got to continue this momentum for the six-game road trip coming up,” Brooklyn guard James Harden said.

The Nets took control of the Wednesday game by outscoring the Hawks 34-20 in the third quarter. Brooklyn shot 48.9 percent on the night and converted 28 fastbreak points. Kevin Durant led the way with 32 points.

“Collectively, I think everybody that touched the floor played extremely well on both ends, just small basketball,” Harden said. “We’re starting to get a feel on both ends of the ball. We’re starting to feel comfortable with each other, and it’s showing on the court.”

Harden contributed 16 points, hitting five 3-pointers, and 11 assists. He had a season-high 29 points and eight assists against Indiana on Oct. 29 and recorded a triple-double against the Pistons on Sunday.

Harden, who battled a hamstring injury during last season’s playoffs and rehabbed throughout the offseason, had shot 33.3 percent in his three previous outings before the Pacers game.

“We’re seeing improvement from James,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “We’re seeing a little bit of everything. We’re seeing him get to the basket, get by his guy and get to the paint a little more. We’re seeing him make some more threes, drawing fouls. He had a blocked shot (Wednesday), a big steal. He’s working at it and getting better. It’s exciting to see him continue to improve.”

Detroit’s defense will have to improve dramatically in the rematch to stay close. Brooklyn shot 65.3 percent on Sunday while thumping the Pistons 117-91.

Detroit will be playing the second game of a back-to-back set on Friday. The Pistons lost to the short-handed Philadelphia 76ers 109-98 on Thursday, scoring just 32 points after halftime.

“We didn’t come out with the right energy,” Detroit coach Dwane Casey said of his team’s second-half performance. “They played last night, and we were trying to say, ‘Hey, let’s push the ball.’ They turned up the defense, and we didn’t respond.

“I think we had three straight turnovers to start the third quarter. We were loose with the basketball. I think we had two turnovers in the first half and nine in the second half, and that’s the difference in the ballgame.”

The No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, Pistons guard Cade Cunningham, recorded his first career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Cunningham continued to struggle with his shooting, though. He went 4-for-17 and also committed three turnovers.

“We wanted to put him on the ball a little more, and he responded,” Casey said, “but it’s a 48-minute game. He’s got to come out locked and loaded, ready to go because — guess what — they’re going to turn up the juice on him. That’s a good lesson for him to go through, to understand the pressure’s going to be there to start the second half.”

–Field Level Media

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