Sunday, March 9, 2014

Nets Thrash Kings 104-89; Marcus Thornton scores 27

Joe Johnson takes a shot for the Brooklyn Nets against the Sacramento Kings

The Nets returned home after a quick pit stop in Boston, where they lost to Celtics, to face the Sacramento Kings. For the fifth straight game, Brooklyn was without starting center Kevin Garnett, due to back spasms. This game also marked a reunion of sorts, as former Net Reggie Evans returned to his old stomping grounds of a year and a half. Marcus Thornton, who was acquired by Brooklyn for Evans, was also facing his former team for the first time.

In a sense, this game could’ve been viewed as a revenge game for the Nets. Earlier in the season, the Nets were demolished by the Kings, 107-86, in what I consider the Nets’ worst loss of the entire season. In that game, Thornton scored 24 points off the bench, and Greivis Vasquez, now with the Toronto Raptors, had a double-double.

The first quarter started out scary for Brooklyn. Just 1:13 into the game Paul Pierce made a beeline to the bench, once again grasping his shoulder. Pierce went to the locker room, and was ruled out for the rest of the game with what the Nets called a “sore right shoulder.” Despite this, the Nets started out well. Unlike Friday, they didn’t wait until the second half to make a three, as Deron Williams hit one from the corner off a nice feed from Joe Johnson to put the Nets up 9-2 early on. The Nets then forced three straight turnovers, the last one culminating with a fast break alley-oop from Joe Johnson to Shaun Livingston, putting the Nets up 17-4. The Kings fought back, however, going on a 8-0 run to cut the lead to 5. Brooklyn finished the quarter outscoring Sacramento 11-7, putting them up 28-19 after one. The Kings turned the ball over 8 times, with the Nets scoring 10 points off them. DeMarcus Cousins had 8, taking advantage of weak interior defense, and Joe Johnson and Deron Williams each had 7.

After former Net Travis Outlaw opened the second quarter with a turnaround jumper, the Nets went on an extended 10-1 run. Mirza Teletovic, who has been very cold as of late, keyed this run, scoring 6 points on a perfect 3-3 from the field. When Reggie Evans finally entered the game with 8:41 left in the quarter (to a nice ovation from Nets fans), he immediately did what Reggie Evans does: horribly missing a layup over Jason Collins, grabbing a rebound on the other end, committing a loose ball foul, and turning the ball over after an offensive rebound. Never change, Reggie, never change. Anyway, Cousins dominated the rest of the half, grabbing offensive rebound after offensive rebound, and putting those rebounds in the hole. He ended the half with a double-double (15 points and 10 rebounds), but the Nets took a 49-40 lead into the half. Brooklyn built the lead on a balanced attack, with one player having double digit points (Williams), but everyone who played, except Collins, scoring. The Nets’ rebounding woes continued, as they were outrebounded by the Kings 24-13 through 2 quarters.

Sacramento opened the third quarter on a tear, tying the game after a Rudy Gay jumper 4 minutes in. Jason Collins, maybe the most unlikeliest of candidates, ended the run and puts the Nets up 2 with a layup after setting a screen. The Kings then took a huge blow, losing Rudy Gay for the rest of the third after coming down on Shaun Livingston’s foot. With Gay injured and Boogie Cousins on the bench due to foul trouble, the Nets were able to open up a 77-65 lead heading into the fourth quarter. However, it wasn’t all great for the Nets, as Andrei Kirilenko left midway through the third with a sprained right ankle, and didn’t return.

The fourth quarter was the quarter of Marcus Thornton. The former King, hit a shot, and hit a shot, and when you thought he was done, hit another shot. In the end, Thornton's 15 fourth quarter points allowed the Nets to take a huge lead and rest their starters for tomorrow's all important game against the division leading Toronto Raptors. Jorge Gutierrez made his Nets debut, scoring 1 point from the foul line.

With the win, the Nets once again climbed over the .500 mark, and, depending on what the Raptors do tonight, could be down 3 games heading into tomorrow's showdown with the division leaders. Marcus Thornton led the way against his former team, scoring 27 points on 11-15 shooting, 5-8 from three. Joe Johnson scored 18 points on 7-12 from the field, and on the Sacramento side, DeMarcus Cousins dominated, scoring 28 points and grabbing 20 rebounds, 10 offensive.

Final Score: 104-89, Nets
Most Disappointing Stat of the Game: Getting outrebounded 53-27, 20-1 on the offensive board.
Promising Stat of the Game: Outscoring Sacramento's bench 59-19.
Scariest Moment of the Game: Paul Pierce and Andrei Kirilenko exiting with injuries
Best Moment of the Game: Alley-oop from Joe Johnson to Shaun Livingston

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