EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Even a little adversity isn’t too much for the New Jersey Nets to overcome under new wonder coach Lawrence Frank.
Richard Jefferson had 27 points and 10 rebounds and the Nets posted their ninth straight win — eighth in a row under Frank, rallying to beat the Detroit Pistons 89-78 on Tuesday night.
This was probably the toughest one for Frank, who replaced Byron Scott more than two weeks ago. The Nets fell behind by 13 points after the first quarter and the 33-year-old coach scolded his team between periods.
“That’s probably the most angry I’ve seen him,” starting center Aaron Williams said. “You have to do that sometimes. We weren’t playing the way we were supposed to play. That’s his job.”
Frank downplayed his talk between periods, insisting he did a poor job of coaching in the opening quarter when the Nets fell behind.
He shifted the credit to his team for picking up their play.
“Our guys did a terrific job, mixing up man and zone coverage,” Frank said. “They really worked their tails off.”
Frank’s 8-0 start is tied for the second best in NBA history with Pistons coach Larry Brown. It is one shy of the mark for best coaching start shared by Kurt Rambis (Los Angeles Lakers, 1998-99) and Buddy Jeannette (Baltimore Bullets, 1947-48).
Frank will get a chance to tie the record on Wednesday in a game against LeBron James and the Cavaliers in Cleveland.
“He doesn’t care about that,” said Jason Kidd, who added 16 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in a gritty 43-minute performance. “He wants to win. he doesn’t care about going undefeated. He wants to win every time we go on the floor.”
Kenyon Martin added 13 points and eight rebounds and Kerry Kittles had 17 points as the Nets posted their ninth straight double-digit win and sent the Pistons to their fourth straight loss.
“We’re just flat out not getting it done,” said Piston All Star Ben Wallace, who had 13 points and 12 rebounds. “We came out in the first quarter and played pretty decent. After that, everything was down hill.
Chauncey Billups had 23 points and Richard Hamilton added 19 for Detroit, which made only 18 field goals in the final three quarters after making 12 in the first, when the shot 54.5 percent in taking a 29-16 lead.
“We didn’t have a lot of guys matching their energy. That’s my responsibility,” Brown said. “I never thought I’d have to coach effort. It seems to me in a lot of games, we have to coach effort.”
The 13-point first-quarter deficit was the largest since Frank took over. He face was red as he yelled between quarter.
“He had a legit gripe,” Martin said.
About halfway through the second quarter, the Nets finally got some stops on defense and than got their transition game going. New Jersey closed the quarter with a 14-0 run and took a 46-42 lead. Detroit missed its final 10 shots.
Jefferson was outstanding in the run. He scored eight points and ignited the run with an ally-oop lay-in of a Martin pass that might have been offensive goaltending.
Kidd had 10 points in the third quarter when New Jersey opened a 71-62 lead. The Nets nailed down the win, holding the Pistons to five points in the final 7:30.
Hamilton scored 11 points and the Pistons held the Nets to just 6-for-25 shooting from the field in taking a 29-16 lead after the first quarter.
Notes: Nets starting C Jason Collins missed his second straight game with a turf toe. ...The first quarter ended with a weird play. Kidd inbounded the ball from under his own basket and his pass hit off the side of the backboard. Since the side is not in play, the pass did not count and the play was a do-over. ... Brown said he was crushed by the Philadelphia 76ers decision to fire Randy Ayers. Brown coached the Sixers last season and Ayers was his assistant.
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