Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bobcats Topple Nets 116-111 in OT

The Brooklyn Nets traveled to Charlotte to face the Bobcats in the third game of a 3-game road-trip. A win would give the Nets a winning trip at 2-1, and could also propel Brooklyn to a half-game back of the Raptors in the Atlantic Division, depending on what the Raptors do in Boston tonight against the Celtics.

The Nets and Bobcats last met a week ago in Brooklyn, a 104-99 win. Deron Williams scored 25 points, dished out 8 assists, and hit a few clutch buckets down the stretch to seal the win. For tonight’s game, Williams was a game-time decision due to illness, but decided to give it a go. Marcus Thornton, who injured his back Sunday in New Orleans, was also a GTD, but was ruled out about a half-hour before tip. Kevin Garnett missed his 14th straight game, still struggling from back spasms, while Andrei Kirilenko, who rolled his ankle in the second quarter of Sunday’s win over Dallas, missed his second straight game. The Bobcats were at relatively full strength, with only reserve guard Gary Neal on the shelf.

Deron WIlliams, who missed shootaround and almost missed the game, was the reason the Nets were able to hang with the Bobcats in the first quarter. Deron opened up the game scorching hot, scoring 15 of the first 19 Nets points, and 18 of the total 28. As I said, Williams’ scoring outburst was only able to keep the Nets in the game, as Al Jefferson had a monster first quarter, scoring 11 points for the Bobcats. The Nets interior defense was lacking with Garnett still injured, and will continue to be for the time being because none of Brooklyn’s top 3 big men (Mason Plumlee, Andray Blatche, Mirza Teletovic), are particularly good defenders. After one, the Nets led the Bobcats 28-24, as Williams shot 7-9 from the field, and 4-6 from three.

Beginning the second quarter, the two teams continued to trade buckets. Among a myriad of fouls, Brooklyn eventually took a 6 point lead halfway into the quarter, after Mirza Teletovic hit a three, causing Charlotte to call timeout. After the timeout, Charlotte went on a 13-5 run, keyed by who else but Big Al Jefferson. Jefferson scored 9 points on the run, which gave the Bobcats a two point lead was quelled by another Teletovic three. Brooklyn entered the half with a 54-53 lead. Deron Williams went 0-1 in the second quarter after his amazing first, hitting two free throws to raise his point total to 20 for the half. Teletovic had a good half for the Nets scoring 13 off the bench. On the Charlotte side, Jefferson was dominant, scoring 22 points; no other Bobcat was in double digits at the half. The Nets rebounding woes continued, outrebounded 20-14 on the glass.

Things started going downhill for Brooklyn in the third quarter. They opened ice cold, which allowed Charlotte to open a 8 point lead. The Bobcats opened that lead with an extended 16-7 run, where the Nets played very sloppily. Turnovers, missed shots, offensive rebounds (by Charlotte), and all-around ugly play plagued Brooklyn, and the Bobcats took full advantage. A Jorge Gutierrez (who played very well in big minutes) killed the run, and a Mirza three kept the Nets in the game. Joe Johnson hit a big three with about a minute left in the third, putting the Nets within 3, but an Al Jefferson (who else?) jumper put Charlotte up 5 going into the fourth quarter.

Buckets were swapped between the two teams to start the fourth, until Gutierrez hit a jumper to put the Nets within 4. The next possession down the court, Gutierrez, going up for a rebound, was called for a flagrant 1 after he brought his arms down around Cody Zeller’s neck. The officials went to the video monitor, and, upon further review, upgraded it to a flagrant 2, meaning Gutierrez was automatically ejected. Many thought it was a weak call (including me), but the refs obviously felt it was rough enough to warrant an ejection (video here, via The Brooklyn Game, if you want to make your own judgement). The two flagrant free throws were hit, and Josh McRoberts hit a shot on the ensuing possession to put Charlotte up 8. Mirza Teletovic and Deron Williams, the two best Nets tonight, both hit quick threes, respectively, bringing Brooklyn down only 2. After Kemba Walker and Joe Johnson traded threes, the Nets allowed a jumper to Al Jefferson, putting the Bobcats up 4. A Mason Plumlee dunk, followed by a Williams layup, tied the game, until an improable Walker leaner with no time left on the shot clock put the Bobcats up 2. A Deron Williams shot seemed to put the Nets up 1, but the officials reviewed it and ruled it a 2, only tying the game. Kemba turned the ball over with no time left, and we went to overtime once again.

Playing their third overtime game in three games, the Nets took a quick one-point lead off a Paul Pierce three (after an Al Jefferson up and under move). Josh McRoberts had a sweet reverse dunk, putting Charlotte up 1, and former Net Chris Douglas-Roberts put them up 4 with 2:30 left in the extra session. A Joe Johnson two briefly put the Nets behind only 1, but Kemba Walker hit a stepback jumper to put Charlotte up 3. After Pierce missed an open layup, McRoberts took the ball down the other end, drove in for a layup, and was rejected by Plumlee. However, the block sent the ball right into the waiting hands of Douglas-Roberts, who hit a dagger three with 10.1 seconds left.

This is a bad loss for the Nets, as it puts them at 1-2 for the short road-trip. Their two loses were easily winnable, and this loss basically eliminated them in the Atlantic, as the Raptors beat the Celtics, sending the Nets 2.5 GB with not many games left. The Nets return home on Friday, where the haven’t lost since January 31, to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Final Score: 116-111, Bobcats
Most Disappointing Stat of the Game: Al Jefferson-35 points, 15 rebounds
Promising Stat of the Game: Mirza Teletovic's 22 points off the bench
Scariest Moment of the Game: Al Jefferson
Best Moment of the Game: Is there a best moment in a loss? Yes? Deron Williams' first quarter I guess
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