The Brooklyn Nets embark on a season-long, eight-game road odyssey, starting Monday night against the Detroit Pistons.
The Nets are only a game behind the New York Knicks for first in the Atlantic Division. This long time away from home will most likely decide where the Nets finish, not just in the Atlantic, but in the Eastern Conference, where they are fourth.
While the Nets are in great shape to challenge for the Atlantic Division title, they are also in jeopardy of falling down the standings. They are only 1 1/2 games ahead of the seventh-seeded Boston Celtics.
The Nets didn't help themselves on Sunday night when they got drummed at home by the Atlanta Hawks. Brooklyn fell 105-93 and was outscored 34-20 in the fourth quarter.
"It was a game that we had an opportunity to step up and establish what we are," said interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo. "We have to work harder."
Deron Williams and Joe Johnson each had 18 points in the setback. Brook Lopez chipped in 17 and Reggie Evans had a monster night with 14 points and 22 rebounds.
The Pistons come home after a four-game western road trip. The journey, and the last two weeks, was a disaster for the Pistons, who have lost eight straight games.
Detroit, which has lost five in a row at home, most recently fell in Portland to the Trail Blazers on Saturday night, 112-101. Rodney Stuckey was awesome that night with 32 points on 12-for-23 shooting, and Will Bynum chipped in 23 off the bench.
"They did a great job," said Pistons assistant Brian Hill, who has taken over the team while head coach Lawrence Frank tends to a personal issue. "Those two guys, basically, kept us in the game."
Greg Monroe, Jose Calderon and Jason Maxiell all scored in double figures for Detroit.
The eight-game losing streak matches the longest slide of the season. The Pistons opened the 2012-13 campaign with eight consecutive setbacks. They also dropped six in a row in December.
The Nets have won both matchups this season with Detroit and their victory on Feb. 6 at The Palace snapped a 10-game road losing streak in this series.