The Brooklyn Nets head to Detroit with the knowledge that they don’t need a big game from Kyrie Irving to beat a quality opponent.
Irving had his worst outing of the young season on Friday, scoring a season-low 22 points and committing a season-high six turnovers. But Taurean Prince and Caris LeVert combined for 52 points and Garrett Temple added 16 off the bench as the Nets collected their second victory, 123-116 over visiting Houston.
Shortly afterward, the Nets got on a plane to Detroit, where they will play the Pistons on Saturday night.
Irving, who was averaging 35.3 points entering the game, shot 7-for-18 from the field.
“A lot of guys played well,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters after the game. “That’s what we need going forward. We can’t rely on Kyrie every night to be Superman. He was good tonight but we need other guys in a supporting role.”
Prince, an offseason acquisition from Atlanta, signed a two-year, $29 million contract extension just before the season opener. His 27 points were 12 more than he scored in any previous game this season. He also grabbed a season-high 12 rebounds.
“He’s kind of an X factor for us,” Atkinson said. “He came out tonight with a ton of energy. Of course the made shots look great but (he was) driving the ball to the rim (and) defensively he was on (James) Harden a ton.”
One thing Atkinson would like to see his team clean up is its turnover issues. The Nets had 22 more on Friday, leading to 25 Rockets points, and are averaging 20 per game.
“We’ve got to figure it out because our defense kind of bailed us out tonight,” Atkinson said. “We’re a long ways away from getting to that point (of finding offensive chemistry).”
The Pistons also have a quick turnaround after losing at Chicago 112-106 on Friday night. Center Andre Drummond had 25 points and 24 rebounds but the Pistons were hampered by poor perimeter shooting. They missed their first 14 3-point attempts and finished 6-for-29 from long range.
“It’s a make-or-miss league. We’ve got to continue to take (shots),” coach Dwane Casey told reporters. “We’ve got to step into them with conviction and go from there because I like the way we played the last three quarters. That’s the way you have to play in the league to compete.”
The Pistons trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half, in part due to seven first-quarter turnovers.
“The turnovers, 16 for 19 points (for the game), we’re getting it down but we need to get that down to 12 or 13 and not have very many live ball turnovers,” Casey said. “So, we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
Detroit continues to go without two starters, All-Star forward Blake Griffin and point guard Reggie Jackson. Griffin hasn’t played this season due to hamstring and knee injuries, though he participated in Friday’s shootaround and could return sometime next week. Jackson is nursing a sore back.
This is the first of four regular-season meetings between Brooklyn and Detroit. They’ll play twice in late January and once more on April 1.
Brooklyn won the season series 2-1 in 2018-19 with the home team prevailing each time. The Pistons were limited to 27 percent shooting from long range.
–Field Level Media