AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Andre Drummond is starting to look more comfortable at the foul line -- and on this night, those extra free throws he made turned out to be crucial.
Drummond had 22 points and 13 rebounds, going 6 of 8 from the free throw line in Detroit's 103-99 victory over Brooklyn on Friday night. The Pistons led by 21 early in the third quarter before holding off a determined rally by the Nets.
Drummond is shooting 41 percent from the foul line on the season -- and that's actually a substantial improvement. At one point he was 3 for 17, but now he's developed a routine, holding the ball for several seconds before releasing the shot.
"I work hard at it every day, so the results are going to show up sooner rather than later," Drummond said. "Tonight was an example of the hard work I put into it."
The Nets cut their deficit to two before Detroit's Kyle Singler made two free throws with 10.4 seconds left. The Pistons snapped a three-game losing streak and ended Brooklyn's three-game winning streak.
"It doesn't matter who plays for us or who we're playing, we have to protect the paint and we didn't do that tonight," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "There's some improvement -- we kept fighting down the stretch even when we got behind -- but we can't get that far behind."
Detroit outscored the Nets 38-20 in the second quarter and led 61-44 at halftime. Brooklyn's Mirza Teletovic, who did not attempt a shot in the first half, scored 17 points in the second, making his first five shots from 3-point range. His final points pulled the Nets within 98-91, and a tip-in by Andray Blatche cut the margin to five.
Teletovic finally missed from beyond the arc, and Blatche missed two free throws with 1:38 to play. Then Monroe made a hook inside to make it 100-93 with 54 seconds left.
Williams was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer with 51 seconds left and made all three shots, cutting the lead to four. After an offensive foul on Josh Smith, the Nets had a chance to pull even closer, but Detroit's Brandon Jennings knocked the ball out of bounds off Williams' leg as the Brooklyn guard drove to the basket, giving the Pistons the ball back with 24 seconds left.
Monroe made one of two free throws with 18.5 seconds to play, but Paul Pierce's 3-pointer made it 101-99. Singler calmly went to the line and made both of his free throws to make it a two-possession game again.
"We've just got to learn from it," Detroit's Chauncey Billups said after the big lead nearly slipped away. "We've got to just quit playing not to lose the game. ... If you do, and you get hesitant and you get passive and the other team gets aggressive, that's what happens."
With Lopez out, Brooklyn couldn't do much about Drummond and Monroe inside. Drummond's most impressive play may have been when he tipped the ball back over his head and into the basket with one hand after Jennings missed everything on a wild shot from the perimeter. That gave the Pistons a 50-39 lead.
Drummond had 18 points and seven rebounds at the half, and Stuckey had 16 points. In the third quarter, Drummond missed a dunk along the baseline but was able to tip the ball in almost immediately to give Detroit a 74-55 lead.
"That front line is tough," Blatche said. "They are great offensive rebounders and they just pounded us out there. The guards are driving to the basket and the bigs are just all over the boards. We definitely missed Brook, because at least he's a big body out there."
Stuckey scored a season-high 27 points in a win at Brooklyn last month. Joe Johnson, who had 34 points for the Nets in that game, was held to 12 on 5-of-16 shooting on Friday. ... Garnett was called for a technical foul in the second quarter, and Blatche was called for flagrantly fouling Drummond with 2:27 left in the half.
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