The Nets officially clinched a playoff birth on the same night that they set a franchise record for consecutive home wins when they beat the Houston Rockets 105-96 to extend the streak to 14 games without a loss at the Barclays Center on Tuesday night.
“We’ve just been playing and trying to protect home court. They came in here and we try to send them on their way with a loss, and that’s for everybody,” Shaun Livingston said.
Joe Johnson led the way with 32 points, including 13 in the third quarter, on 13-for-21 and 4-for-8 behind the arc. Shaun Livingston had 17, Andray Blatche had 13, Deron Williams had 12, Mason Plumlee had 11 with four assists, a career high, and Mirza Teletovic had 10 with seven rebounds. The team collectively shot 53 percent to Houston’s 38.1 percent.
The two teams played close throughout most of the game. The Nets had a nine-point lead early behind 11 first quarter points from Cool Joe, but the Rockets cut it to just a five-point lead at the end of the first quarter. Johnson hit a three with 4:01 in the third to re-gain the 11-point lead, but Houston went on a 9-0 run to immediately cut it down to three.
The Nets were up by four headed into the fourth when Teletovic hit a couple of big threes to give them some cushion. It was 84-79 with 11:46 to play when Teletovic hit a three to put the Nets up by eight. Jeremy Lin later made it 94-87, but Teletovic hit another big three to go up 10 with 4:36 left.
The Nets have won 14 in a row in Brooklyn and three in a row overall, but they are still having trouble catching the Toronto Raptors, who are in first place and 1.5 games ahead of them in the Atlantic Division. They are back in action Wednesday night when they head to The Garden and have nine games left in the season.
The Nets finished the season with an 18-12 record against the Western Conference. They also scored 50-points or more in the paint for the second game in a row on Tuesday which is the first time they’ve done that all season. Kevin Garnett sat out again with back spasms and Andrei Kirilenko missed another game with an ankle injury.