Early March presented the Brooklyn Nets an opportunity to re-enter the Eastern Conference play-in conversation. While Brooklyn opened the month with a pair of wins over the Atlanta Hawks, who sit directly ahead of them in the standings, they've failed to take care of business since.

And with each loss, they watch their season slip further out of grasp.

Following a loss to the battered Memphis Grizzlies early this week, the Nets fell 118-112 to the nine-win Detroit Pistons Thursday at Little Caesars Arena. Brooklyn was without Cam Thomas, Cam Johnson, Day'Ron Sharpe and Ben Simmons in the loss.

Interim head coach Kevin Ollie's squad fought back from an 18-point first-quarter deficit to take a one-point lead at the half. They led by six in the third quarter before falling behind by eight midway through the fourth. The Nets rallied again to tie the game at 98 with 6:30 remaining but immediately allowed an 11-0 run from which the Pistons would never look back.

Nets fall to lowly Pistons

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kevin Ollie reacts in the first half against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

After showing improvement in eight games under Ollie, Brooklyn's defense took a step back in Detroit, allowing the Pistons to shoot 43-of-82 (52 percent). Jaden Ivey led all scorers with a career-high 34 points on 10-of-17 shooting, while Cade Cunningham added 32 points and 11 assists on 10-of-22 shooting.

The Nets struggled to finish defensive possessions, a recurring theme of late. Detroit outrebounded them 50-28 overall and 13-4 offensively, leading to a 23-9 advantage in second-chance points.

“We just gotta clean up the rebounding,” Ollie said. “So that means all five guys gotta go hunt and rebound. It just can't be Nic [Claxton], it can't be Noah [Clowney], and you know, Day'Ron [Sharpe] is in street clothes. So we gotta fight. We got guys that are hurt. We gotta step up and we gotta do it collectively.”

After tying the game at 98, Brooklyn's offense stalled down the stretch, shooting 5-of-15 over the final six minutes.

Dennis Schroder led the Nets with 31 points and eight assists on 12-of-17 shooting from the field and 5-of-7 from three. The point guard, who joined Brooklyn at the deadline in a trade for Spencer Dinwiddie, leads the team in scoring over the last seven games, averaging 19.1 points and 6.7 assists on 54/61/63 shooting spits.

Lonnie Walker added 21 points on 8-of-18 shooting off the bench. The shooting guard was questionable with an illness entering the matchup.

Mikal Bridges' struggled to find his rhythm for the third straight game, posting 13 points and eight assists on 4-of-11 shooting. The 27-year-old is averaging 15.6 points on 37 percent shooting from the field and 27 percent from three over Brooklyn's last eight games.

“It hurts when you don't have Cam Thomas or Cam Johnson and they're double-teaming. You expect him to be Superman but he's just not Superman,” Ollie said of Bridges' performance. “All the game-planning is to take him out of the game. And I think in this opportunity, he can learn through this. Even through struggle, you have an opportunity to find a lesson in it, and I think he'll find a lesson in it.”

The loss drops the Nets to 3.5 games back of the Hawks for the East's final play-in spot, with Atlanta set to face the shorthanded Grizzlies on Friday. Brooklyn will look to prevent slipping further in the standings as they continue a six-game road trip with a back-to-back against the Charlotte Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers this weekend.

“I feel like every game at this point is a must-win,” Nic Claxton said. “We came out kinda flat tonight, so that's gonna be our challenge. Just not getting behind, we did that in the last couple of games and it's always hard playing from behind like that. But again, every game is a must-win from here on out.”