Friday, February 28, 2014

Nets Bounce Back, Crush Nuggets 112-89

Paul Pierce drives against Kenneth Faried

Looking to avenge an embarrassing 44-point loss to the Portland Trail Blazers a night before, the Nets traveled to Denver to face the Nuggets on yet another back-to-back. This was game six of seven on the “Circus Road Trip”, and a win would put them at 3-3 for the trip, with a good chance to win Saturday in Milwaukee to make the trip a winning one.

Honestly, the Nets had no excuses to lose this game. Denver was without Ty Lawson (broken rib), Wilson Chandler (knee sprain), JaVale McGee (out for season - tibia), Nate Robinson (out for season -  ACL), and Danilo Gallinari (out for season - knee). All these injuries to key players forced Denver to only dress 9 players. Coming into the game, Denver had lost 8 of 9, with their only win during that stretch coming against the lowly Milwaukee Bucks.

Since the Nets were the team coming off the back-to-back and since the Nuggets hadn’t played since Tuesday, most would expect Brooklyn to have come out sluggish and Denver ready to run. However, both teams went against the grain, as the Nets came out hot from the field and the Nuggets...well not so much. Brooklyn began the game on a 12-4 run and an extended 20-6 run, relying on a balanced scoring attack. The threes were dropping and Denver provided almost no interior defense. Andray Blatche took advantage of the depleted Denver frontcourt, and started 3-4 from the field while grabbing 5 boards. In the end, the Nets led 29-8 at the end of the first stanza. 8 points in a quarter is the least for any NBA team this season, and the least the Nets have given up since 12/17/08 hen they gave up 7 to the Deron Williams’ led Jazz.

The second quarter was more of the same for the Nuggets. They went scoreless for the first three minutes, which was part of a longer 9 minute field-goalless streak for Denver,bridging the first and second quarters. For Brooklyn, Andrei Kirilenko had a great 2nd quarter on both ends of the court, playing stingy D and scoring 5 points, including an improbable layup in between 2 defenders. At the end of the first half, the Nets were up 59-36. No Net scored in double figures at the half, but all 10 Nets who played scored. Brooklyn was playing so well, that an 11-2 run from Denver only cut the lead to 22 points.

It’s getting a bit redundant right about now, but the Nets also dominated the third quarter. While mainly being guarded by Kenneth Faried, Paul Pierce dominated the quarter, scoring 11 points on a variety of jumpers before being removed by Coach Kidd for the rest of the night. Kidd basically said it was over sending in Marquis Teague, Mason Plumlee, and Marcus Thornton with a bit over 2:30 left in the quarter.

The lineup of Teague-Thornton-Alan Anderson-Mirza Teletovic-Plumlee played the majority of the fourth quarter, with big man Jason Collins, who is expected to remain with the team the rest of the season, coming in for Thornton with 8 minutes left in the third. Collins scored his first points as a Net, hitting a long 2-pointer late in the fourth quarter.

Paul Pierce had a great game, scoring 18 points on 7-12 shooting in only 22 minutes.Andrei Kirilenko only played 9 minutes, but put up 9 points and grabbed 3 boards. Jason Collins came in and did what Jason Collins does, amassing 4 fouls in his first minutes on the court. With the win, the Nets improved to 27-29, and, coupled with a Toronto Raptors loss, move to 4.0 games out of the first spot in the Atlantic Division.

The Nets will now travel to Milwaukee to face the aforementioned Bucks on Saturday. The Bucks have been abysmal of late, losing 6 of their last 8, with the only wins coming against the Magic and the tanking 76ers. With a win, the Nets would move to 1 game under .500 and complete the season sweep against Milwaukee.

Final Score:112-89, Nets
Most Disappointing Stat of the Game: Joe Johnson once again playing badly, shooting 3-11 from the field and 2-6 from three
Promising Stat of the Game: Forcing 24 Denver turnovers, 20 of them in two and a half quarters.
Scariest Moment of the Game: Losing the opening tip.
Best Moment of the Game: The entire first quarter
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