From the desk of: THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH
BROOKLYN NETS - Flatbush Salvages Back End Of Home-And-Home Against Atlanta. Team Saves Face In Brooklyn.
Last Wednesday was supposed to be Joe Johnson's night in the spotlight as he was due to face his former team for the first time since being traded to the Nets. But the Brooks showed up lethargic in Atlanta and lost by a deflating 109-95 disparity. As it turned out, it was former Nets guard Devin Harris who had himself a rather enjoyable game with eighteen points and five assists against his former team.
In the Friday night follow up, the Nets were having to work hard in order to play with the Hawks at Barclays. The teams were tied after the first period, and remained tied after the second period, and third period. However, Brooklyn's first half effort was marked by turnovers that really kept Atlanta hanging around.
With just over a minute remaining in the game, the Hawks pulled down a defensive rebound and quickly went into transition. Josh Smith received an outlet pass and fended off Brook Lopez as the two headed up court. Once they gained the paint, Josh Smith shoved down a vicious dunk in the face of Lopez that pulled the Hawks within a point of Brooklyn, in what was now a 90-89 game. The play punctuated a 7-0 run by the Hawks......
I then sensed the sharks beginning to circle. There was sure to be a wave of media criticism headed the Nets way if they dropped the back end of this home-and-home series. The knock on Flatbush during their inaugural season is them only being able to defeat sub-par teams. And heading into Atlanta Wednesday evening, the numbers supported that growing sentiment. The Nets were only 7-14 against teams with winning records before facing the Hawks. After Wednesday, they had dropped to a 7-15 record.
Despite Atlanta's 7-0 run late in the fourth quarter, the final quarter was actually highlighted by a much improved defensive effort in which the Brooks limited visiting Atlanta to fifteen points.
For the game, Deron Williams led all scorers with twenty four points. Brook Lopez dropped twenty points. Joe Johnson improved by three points over his effort in Atlanta and scored eighteen points Friday evening at home. Andray Blatch joined the double digit scorers club with eleven points in sixteen minutes off the bench. Keith Bogans was Nets high man logging twenty one minutes off the bench, in which he scored eight points. Of the starters, Joe Johnson logged in a whopping forty one minutes.
Brooklyn out-rebounded Atlanta by a formidable 48-35 margin. Reggie Evans was a monster on the glass, recording twice as many boards as Atlanta's top rebounder, Josh Smith, who pulled down nine. Reggie Evans pulled down twenty rebounds. Fifteen of those came on the defensive end.
Atlanta actually out-shot the Nets in all respects. From the floor, the Hawks shot 43% versus just 40% for Brooklyn. Both teams hit nine three-pointers. But Atlanta came in at almost 43%, while the Brooks shot 34% from behind the arch. And from the free throw line, the Hawks enjoyed a 71% versus 68% edge. However, Brooklyn bested the Hawks twenty five points versus ten.
Crash Wallace was on the floor Friday. In his first game back since bruising ribs against Phoenix, he played twenty nine minutes and scored a quiet eight points, pulled down four rebounds, and issued three assists. He had one block and managed one steal.
Brooklyn held on Friday evening. The Nets salvaged the back end of this home-and-home by a 94-89 final score. The Nets are now 16-7 at Barclays. They upped their record to 10-2 under P.J. Carlesimo. But more importantly, they provided a response. They rebounded, and improved their record to 8-15 against teams with winning records. Perhaps the media sharks will remain docile, and not bite on Saturday.