Sunday, January 26, 2014

Nets Win 85-79 in Pierce and Garnett's Emotional Homecoming

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in their emotional return to Boston.

In a game reminiscent at times of the Brooklyn Nets' recent victory over the Orlando Magic, the Nets started off sluggish and sloppy against a terrible opponent in the Boston Celtics, only to pull away in the second half.

The key word here is "ugly." Missed layups all over the place, bad passes everywhere, and too many offensive rebounds allowed. The Nets began the game by scoring only 11 first-quarter points, which is the lowest total in any quarter so far this season. Brooklyn shot just 32.6% in the first half.

Luckily for Brooklyn, the Celtics were worse. Boston shot 38% through the game and were 7-24 from beyond the arc. Their defense was disorganized and their shot selection was off.

Two big keys to the victory tonight were the defense and the bench. On defense, Brooklyn never surrendered more than 19 points in a single quarter and allowed only 34 Boston points through the first half. Andray Blatche had a great game off of the bench, dropping 17 points and often keeping Boston at arm's reach. Also playing well was Andrei Kirilenko (11 points on 4-6 shooting, 2 steals, and countless hustle plays). Brooklyn's bench mob had 47 of the team's 85 points – that's 55% of the team's scoring.

Things almost got out of hand for Brooklyn when the Celtics came within three points late in the fourth quarter, but the Nets managed to keep them at bay.

Watching the "action" unfold, one got the sense that this was a game that didn't matter much to either team. The actual game was overshadowed by Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett returning to the TD Garden, where they spent 15 and six seasons, respectively, and won a championship together in 2008. It was an emotional night for both men, who were perhaps a bit overcome – Pierce chipped in only 6 points on 2-10 shooting and five fouls. He said postgame that it was the toughest game he's ever had to play. Garnett didn't fare much better, as he had just 6 points and 3 rebounds.

The video tributes the Celtics gave Pierce and Garnett were actually pretty nice. Take a look:

All in all, the important thing for the Nets is that they got the second half of the season started off right by beating a bad team. It would be nice for this team if they stopped playing down to their opponents and prevented bad teams from hanging around all game. The Nets are now 10-1 in 2014 and 20-22 on the season. They're also 8-0 with this starting lineup. They head home to Brooklyn to take on the Toronto Raptors tomorrow in an important game:
Final Score: 85-79 Nets in an ugly one.
Most Disappointing Stat of the Game: Getting outrebounded 45-41 and 12-10 on offensive boards.
Promising Stat of the Game: 45 bench points for Brooklyn. The depth is real.
Scariest Moment of the Game: Allowing the Celtics to bring it to within three late in the fourth.
Best Moment of the Game: The video tributes. Well deserved.

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