The Brooklyn Nets were without Deron Williams, but they didn’t let that stop them as they used a big third quarter to propel them to a 91-86 win over the Atlanta Hawks during a cold night in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center. With the win, the Nets remain undefeated in 2014 with three wins and no loses.
“This group is playing with a lot of energy and effort, but I think the big thing is our trust,” Jason Kidd said. “We were playing pretty good there in those first maybe 17 minutes and then all of a sudden we had a little lapse. We couldn’t get stops and we couldn’t make shots, but the guys stayed together. We went into halftime down and we came out and we went on a run.”
The Nets played well early on as Paul Pierce gave them nine points in the first quarter to give them a 27-21 lead. That strong play continued for most of the second quarter until about the final three minutes when the offense went completely cold and allowed the Hawks to reel off an 11-0 run to take a 52-46 lead into the half.
That deficit would be quickly erased though as the Nets came out with their own run, 14-0 run that was capped off by a pair of threes by Alan Anderson. The Hawks got a mini 5-0 run at that point, but the Nets would finish the quarter strong when Mirza Teletovic got hot and hit three threes in the final three minutes.
“We know that third quarters are sometimes our weak spot in the game so we just wanted to come out and be aggressive,” Anderson said. “We know we kind of let up a little bit in that second quarter going into halftime and we just wanted to come out and be aggressive. We knew they were going to come out so we had to take that first punch and we did, and we took some more punches.”
Joe Johnson has really struggled of late, but he came up big in this game as he led the Nets with 23 points. He was his biggest in the fourth quarter as he led the team with nine points in just under seven minutes. After the game, Kevin Garnett called him “Joe Jesus”.
“He wasn’t real happy with some of the three’s he missed and just to see him kind of take over and be Joe Jesus, that’s what we like to call him, because he might not be there when you call on him, but he’s there when you need him,” Garnett said.
“Shooting is an art and I think I’ve been doing a lot of aiming, just really trying to make it instead of just really shooting and just letting the ball go,” Johnson explained of his recent struggles. “There in the fourth quarter, that’s exactly what (Jason Terry) kept telling me to do — just shoot the ball.”
Andrei Kirilenko had a big impact on this game. He finished with just seven points, but he also chipped in with four assists and a pair of offensive rebounds. More importantly, he played 21 minutes which is a good sign that his back is feeling strong (Kidd joked afterward that he meant to only use him for 14 minutes and only mistakenly used him for 21).
The Nets are feeling good now that they’ve won three in a row, but they face tough opponents on Wednesday and Friday as they take on the Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat respectively.
“No matter who we play, we have to be ready,” Kidd said. “We have a team in Golden State that’s hot. I think they’ve won nine in a row. They’re a team that can put a lot of points on the board. They have some great talent. The guys over there are well coached so we’re going to have our hands full, but we’ve got to come with the same effort that we have since 2014 started.”