DETROIT, Mich. (AP) — James Harden scored 44 points and Blake Griffin added 17 in his return to Detroit, lifting the Brooklyn Nets to a 113-111 victory over the Pistons on Friday night.
Harden was back after missing his team’s previous game because of neck soreness, and he added 14 rebounds and eight assists in addition to his big scoring night. Brooklyn was still without Kevin Durant (left hamstring strain) and Kyrie Irving (personal reasons), but the Nets had enough to hold off the last-place Pistons.
Jerami Grant scored 19 points for Detroit.
Griffin spent three-plus years with the Pistons, but he reached a buyout agreement with Detroit earlier this month and went to the contending Nets. The Pistons played a tribute video for him during a first-half timeout, and he stood to acknowledge the small number of fans in attendance.
Make no mistake, though: Griffin was an opponent. In the second quarter, Detroit rookie Isaiah Stewart appeared to give Griffin a shot to the head with his arm. After a lengthy review, Griffin received a technical foul — and Stewart was called for a flagrant foul and ejected.
The game was tied at 82 in the fourth when Griffin made a 3-pointer that started a 10-0 run for the Nets. An alley-oop dunk by Griffin made it 100-90.
The Pistons fought back to tie it at 106 before Harden’s three-point play put Brooklyn back ahead. A 3-pointer by Jeff Green made it 112-107.
The Nets had the ball up by two with 4.5 seconds left, but Detroit’s Saddiq Bey intercepted Green’s inbound pass, and the Pistons called a timeout with 3.3 seconds to play.
Cory Joseph’s driving attempt missed, and it may not have beaten the buzzer anyway.
In addition to the dustup between Stewart and Griffin, five other players were called for technical fouls: Wayne Ellington and Hamidou Diallo for Detroit, and DeAndre Jordan, Green and Harden for Brooklyn. Green’s was for defensive three seconds.
Joseph and Diallo, both of whom were acquired by the Pistons in recent trades, made their debuts for Detroit. Joseph had nine points and Diallo six.
Nets: Jordan had 10 points and nine rebounds. ... Harden’s 44 points were the most by a Brooklyn player this season.
Pistons: G Rodney McGruder started for just the second time this season after Detroit traded Delon Wright in the deal for Joseph. ... The Pistons went 34 for 47 on free throws.
Nets: Host Minnesota on Monday night. The Timberwolves beat Brooklyn twice last season, both times in overtime.
Pistons: Visit Washington on Saturday night. The Wizards went 3-1 against Detroit last season.