The Brooklyn Nets looked like a team that wasn’t ready for the season to start last Wednesday, but they came out riding Joe Johnson and played exciting basketball in a 102-90 victory over the Detroit Pistons on the road on Saturday night.
Johnson started hot, with 12 points in the first quarter and finished hot as scored 15 of his 34 points in the final frame. He was relentless all night and hit 14 of 23 shots, had eight rebounds and six assists to lead the team. He was hardly alone, though, as Kevin Garnett played as well as he ever has in Brooklyn uniform with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Deron Williams even looked good as he picked up 15 points and six assists. Mirza Teletovic came off the bench and added 12 and seven rebounds.
The Nets are still waiting for big performances from some key players, though, including Mason Plumlee and Bojan Bogdanovic. Plumlee was better than Wednesday night, but not by much as he finished with 10 points and five rebounds in 20 minutes. Bogdanovic shot just 1-for-7 including 0-for-4 from behind the arc as he continues to adjust to the NBA.
HOW IT HAPPENED: The Nets jumped out to an early lead thanks to Johnson and Teletovic and led by as much as 14 before the half. They were looking real good in the second quarter until their defense suddenly lost focus and the Pistons went on a 15-4 run to cut the lead significantly. That’s when Lionel Hollins pulled Plumlee and Bogdanovic off the floor and the team proceeded to regain their big lead with a 10-0 run.
TURNING POINT: The Pistons did eventually take a one-point lead in the fourth quarter when Caron Butler hit three free throws, but that lead only lasted about a minute until Johnson took over the game. Johnson poured on 15 points on 7-for-9 from the floor in that fourth quarter. KG, D-Will and Jarrett Jack were the only others to score that quarter and each had just two points.
OFF HIS LEASH: Kevin Garnett barely played last season. Jason Kidd wanted to keep him rested so he limited him to about 20 minutes per game (for what? The playoffs? He barely played then too). Hollins doesn’t believe in that and says he’ll use the veteran in his 20th year just like any other player. That paid off huge for the Nets as KG was in beast mode and picked up a double-double. He only had three double-doubles all of last season. Thanks for keeping him fresh for this season, Kidd.
SMALL MOVE PAYING DIVIDENDS: An offseason move that didn’t get much attention was the signing of center Jerome Jordan, but he has been great for the Nets so far. He’s not the biggest offensive weapon, despite one amazing preseason game, but he makes a huge difference on defense. In 11 minutes, Jordan had six points and five rebounds. Four of those rebounds were on offense which is a weapon the Nets have not had since their move to Brooklyn.
QUOTE OF THE GAME: “Joe Jesus, you know what it is. You get him going and you can see it comin like a tornado,” said Garnett.
UP NEXT: The Brooklyn Nets are coming home to face the Oklahoma City Thunder during their home opener at the Barclays Center on Monday night. It’s a game that the Nets should win as the Thunder have already suffered big injuries including the loss of their leader Kevin Durant.