Pistons win sixth straight road game

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Bad news arrived in the afternoon
for Richard Jefferson and the New Jersey Nets, and bad basketball
naturally followed.

Hours after they learned they'd be without Jefferson for the
remainder of the season, the Nets sorely missed his offense in an
89-80 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night.

Jefferson needs surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left
wrist, meaning the Nets will have to make do without their leading
scorer and rebounder just 3 weeks after acquiring a third star,
Vince Carter.

"It's tough, we were just talking about it (Monday) and he
wasn't sure what the doctors were going to say," Carter said.

Rasheed Wallace had 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Richard
Hamilton scored 18 points for the Pistons as they extended their
road winning streak to six games on the one-month anniversary of
their last loss away from home.

Jefferson, dressed in all black, watched from the bench as the
Nets got 19 points from Carter, 16 from Travis Best and 13 from
Jason Kidd while losing for the fourth time in five games.

Jefferson originally injured the wrist when he was flagrantly
fouled last month by Detroit's Chauncey Billups on a breakaway.
Jefferson said he doesn't consider Billups a dirty player, but he
thought the foul constituted a dirty play.

"I have been in this league for a while and you all can check
my record. I know I don't have more than one or two flagrants,"
Billups said. "Everybody knows I don't play like that. there is no
reason to make a play like that, with malicious intent."

Jefferson had been in a mini-slump ever since being on the
receiving end of Billups' undercut foul, and an MRI revealed the
torn ligament. Jefferson will wear a cast for two months after
undergoing surgery, and he said he hoped to return for the playoffs
-- if the Nets qualify.

That'll be a much more daunting task now that the team leader in
scoring (22.2) and rebounds (7.3) is out. The loss solidified the
Nets' spot at the bottom of the Atlantic Division.

"Well, we have to win games before we can think about the
playoffs," Kidd said. "We can keep saying 'What if, what if?' and
before you know it the playoffs will be here and we'll be on

Detroit won for the 11th time in its last 13 road games after
beginning the season 1-5 away from the Palace of Auburn Hills. The
Pistons and Miami are the only Eastern Conference teams with
winning road records.

Hamilton had seven assists, and Billups added 11 points, four
assists and six rebounds. Ben Wallace had 11 points and 11
rebounds, and Antonio McDyess came off the bench to score 11

"We're not playing our best basketball," Ben Wallace said.
"We're not playing as well as we would like to be playing at this
point in the season, the key thing is this team is going out and
finding ways to win."

Things fell apart for the Nets after Kidd went to the bench for
a brief rest with 45 seconds left in the third quarter. Detroit
closed the quarter with a 6-0 run, getting a breakaway dunk from
Hamilton with 1.1 seconds left for a 68-59 lead.

The Pistons also scored the first three points of the fourth
quarter for a 71-59 lead before Kidd returned with 10:23 left. New
Jersey got no closer than five points the rest of the way.

Game notes
The Nets got a scare late in the second quarter when center
Nenad Krstic limped off holding his right knee, but he was back for
the start of the second half. ... Rodney Buford started in
Jefferson's place, his seventh start of the season, and had 10
points on 5-for-12 shooting. ... Former NBA guard Rod Strickland
attended the game, prompting a heckler to shout "How can Rodney
Strickland be watching Rodney Buford? It makes no sense." ...
Nets' coach Lawrence Frank's record dropped to 37-37.