Devin Harris had 19 points and 11 assists, and the Nets snapped a five-game skid with a 111-98 victory over the sluggish Pistons on Wednesday night.
"I think this says when we play the right way we're competitive and also that we haven't mailed it in," said Nets guard Keyon Dooling, who was inserted into the starting lineup and responded by matching his season high with 23 points. "I think this was an encouraging win for us, a much-needed win for us and hopefully we can build some momentum."
The win was only the Nets' seventh in 24 games, and this one came after embarrassing losses to Minnesota and Milwaukee, games which questioned the character of the players and put some doubt into Lawrence Frank's future as coach.
"We definitely came out with a different mind-set," said Harris, whose penetrating drives helped New Jersey score 56 points in the paint. "Even shootaround was a little different for us."
Frank liked the change.
"I think our guys really responded," he said. "They bounced back, and like I said, we have a prideful group. I think those last two games were aberrations. I thought our guys played a full 48 minutes."
The Nets had six players in double figures, shot 51 percent from the field and had only nine turnovers.
There weren't as many smiles in the Pistons' locker room after losing for the eighth time in 11 games. Detroit (36-39) now holds a half-game lead over idle Chicago for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference and remains two games ahead of No. 9 Charlotte, which lost to Boston in double overtime.
Detroit and Charlotte have seven games left, one more than Chicago.
While the Pistons still appear headed to the playoffs, they seem to realize the glory days are over. Detroit had made the conference finals or the NBA Finals every year since 2002-03.
"It's very surprising. Tonight was a game that we had to get," said Richard Hamilton, who led the Pistons with 29 points. "It was a big game and we lost. Especially when we're playing for our dear lives."
Hamilton can't remember the Pistons playing this poorly, even though they had an excuse on Wednesday with Rasheed Wallace suspended for picking up his 16th technical foul the night before and the team playing its fourth game in five nights.
"It's totally different from what we're used to here," Hamilton said. "Our record is not good and we're not playing well. I can't compare this to anything else. We just have to find a way to win and it's just not happening. We have to come out and win games."
The Nets never trailed after Harris scored five points and handed out two assists in a 16-5 run that gave them a 23-13 lead.
The margin was 11 at the half and it grew to 21 points in the fourth quarter when Dooling scored 13 points, shooting 5-for-6, including three 3-pointers.
"We have seven games left and hopefully, we can do it," Stuckey said. "I really don't know how to explain this. We just have to find ourselves. Either we want to go to the playoffs or we want to go home."
Allen Iverson, who complained about his minutes after playing 18 in the loss to Cleveland on Tuesday, played 17 against New Jersey. He scored four points on 1-for-8 shooting and handed out four assists, but at time he looked out of control, particularly in the second quarter.
"Time is running out and it's not getting better," Iverson said. "Other teams are elevating their games at the right time and we're not. I'm definitely surprised by that."
- The win was the Nets second in 10 games against Detroit.
- Frustrated after not getting a foul call early in the third quarter, Kwame Brown fouled Anderson at the other end and then was called for a technical for arguing the previous call. Brown was scoreless in 17 minutes.
- The Nets' lineup shuffle saw Dooling start for F Trenton Hassell. Carter moved to forward. Hassell did not play, nor did Yi Jianlian. The Nets' season high for points in the paint was 60 against Toronto early in the season.