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Nets-Pistons Preview

By JEFF BARTL

STATS Writer

(AP) -- The Brooklyn Nets are a much different team than the one that dropped a pair of games against Detroit earlier this season. The Pistons, meanwhile, have continued to struggle.

Brooklyn seeks a third straight victory while trying to hand visiting Detroit its seventh loss in nine games Friday night.

The Nets (22-25) have gone 12-4 in 2014 to climb into the Eastern Conference playoff picture despite dropping 21 of their first 31. Two of those losses came to the Pistons (19-29), who won 109-97 at Brooklyn on Nov. 24 and 103-99 at home on Dec. 13.

Brooklyn had lost three straight - two by one point - but has bounced back with wins over Philadelphia on Monday and San Antonio on Thursday. Alan Anderson scored a game-high 22 points off the bench in a 103-89 win over the injury-depleted Spurs.

"I thought he was taking wide-open shots. He was also being aggressive, driving the ball knowing that they didn't have any shot blocking," coach Jason Kidd said of Anderson.

Deron Williams added 16 points in his third straight start after making six appearances as a reserve following his return from an ankle injury. Anderson came off the bench for the second time in three games after starting 11 straight.

"We've got the pieces," Anderson said. "We're finally starting to turn the corner a lot more lately. I just want to win no matter how much I'm playing."

All-Star Joe Johnson is going through a tough stretch and finished with eight points. After averaging 22.9 points and shooting 51.7 percent from the field in seven games from Jan. 6-21, Johnson has averaged 9.3 while shooting 37 percent over his last six. He didn't play Monday because of a right knee injury.

Johnson scored 34 in the first meeting with Detroit, which has lost two straight after falling 112-98 to Orlando on Wednesday. Josh Smith scored 25 points, but Will Bynum and coach Maurice Cheeks got into a heated disagreement during a second-quarter timeout.

Bynum didn't play the rest of the game, but he said he doesn't regret the incident.

"That was my choice, but it was in the heat of the game," Cheeks said. "The game was more important than me and Will as far as I'm concerned."

Brandon Jennings had 15 points but shot only 5 of 23 for the Pistons, who are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference and 3 1/2 games behind the seventh-place Nets.

"We just have to take care of the things we're capable of taking care of," Cheeks told the team's official website, "and that's playing those teams, playing Brooklyn tomorrow and then playing (eighth-place) Charlotte (in a home-and-home) after the (All-Star) break. "Those are teams we need to beat in order to get ahead of them."

Kyle Singler made his second start of the season Wednesday and scored 11 points. Cheeks said he's likely to start again in this contest ahead of rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who had started the previous 40.

"You knew it wasn't going to be easy for him after starting so many games to come off the bench," Cheeks said of Caldwell-Pope. "KCP is a good kid and he's a good player, so he will adjust to it, no matter what."

Andre Drummond (13 rebounds) and Greg Monroe (11 boards) had 22 points apiece in the last meeting with the Nets.

Updated February 7, 2014

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