It looked like it was going to be the same old story for the Brooklyn Nets as they blew a 13-point lead in a terrible third quarter, but they settled down and finished strong as they beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were without Kyrie Irving, 89-82 at the Barclays Center on Saturday night.
“The guys came out with the same effort and energy that they did in Oklahoma and the result was the same,” Jason Kidd said. “The guys trusted one another, they stayed together. Normally a third quarter run on us tends to be a downfall, but today it became a positive because guys got stops and executed on the other end.”
Deron Williams led the Nets with 21 points and six assists, Paul Pierce also had a big game with 17 points, five assists and a couple of rebounds, and the Nets welcomed back Andray Blatche, who had 12 points and five rebounds coming off the bench. In a limited role, Andrei Kirilenko was also strong with eight points and two rebounds in 14 minutes.
“It feels good just to come back and help the team get a win, start off a winning streak,” Blatche said. “I feel good. It took a while to get a rhythm, ,but by the second quarter I kind of found it.”
Joe Johnson continued his funk as he scored just two points on 1-of-7 from the floor. Reggie Evans also had a mixed game; he finished with eight points and 11 rebounds, but he was able to get a few extra points as the Cavaliers hardly guarded him at all on offense. That hurt the offense overall though as it meant they were constantly double-teaming another player.
The Nets took a strong 51-38 lead into the second half on 13 points from D-Will and 11 from Pierce. The team collectively struggled shooting, 3-for-13 overall, and they were dominated on the boards, out-rebounded 13-4 including four offensive boards, as they gave up that 13 point lead.
Usually when the Nets have such a bad third, they just pack it up and the game is over. However, for just the second time all season they were able to fight back and get a win after being outscored in the third frame. It was Blatche down the stretch as he scored 10 points and had four rebounds in the last period. D-Will hit a clutch three late and then followed it up with a couple of free throws to ice the game.
“We just settled down,” Pierce said. “Stopped turning the ball over and looked to get some easy plays. In the fourth quarter especially, we were able to make some sotps and then came back for some easy plays.”
The Nets are now on a two-game winning streak, their second winning streak of the season and are now 12-21 on the season. It isn’t pretty, but they are only five games out of the Atlantic Division lead and 1.5 games out of the eight place spot in the Eastern Conference.
“I think it’s very important,” said Kirilenko when asked if the two-game winning streak meant anything. “Our team is improving dramatically. We still have a lot of things to work on especially offensive rebounds, but we got good defense. We were able to hold them to 23 points a quarter in three out of the four quarters. That’s very good.”