Nets Gain First Road Victory Of Season
FRIDAY NIGHT RECAP:
BROOKLYN NETS: Deron Williams Sprains Ankle...Again!
Jason's Kidds Regroup After Deron Williams Limps Off Floor, And Play Most Inspired Basketball Game Since Defeating Miami.
Four and a half minutes into Friday night's game in Phoenix, the entire Nets season flashed before the collective eyes of Brooklyn. Deron Williams sprained his left ankle and left the game. By the end of the first quarter, the Nets were looking collectively slow, and discombobulated.
Then Shaun Livingston stepped in for Williams and provided an immediate spark. Brook Lopez started to percolate as well, and Paul Pierce took control of the floor. By halftime, the Nets had cut the Suns lead down to a 50-46 margin. At 10:10 of the third, the Nets tied the game 50-50 on a mid-range jumper by Brook Lopez, then Mason Plumlee closed out the third quarter with an emphatic dunk to give the Nets a 73-67 lead.
With 7:00 left in the fourth, Phoenix led 82-78 again, but Brooklyn persisted and at 5:20, Joe Johnson's floater in the lane gave the Nets an 84-83 lead.
At 3:30, Shaun Livingston gave Brooklyn an 88-87 lead, while on the defensive end, Brook Lopez blocked a layup attempt, instigating a time-out by Phoenix.
With the score 90-89 Nets, Kevin Garnett gathered a loose ball and called a Brooklyn time-out while lying on the floor, but Joe Johnson missed his shot coming out of the break. P.J. Tucker then nailed a three at the other end to give the Suns a 92-90 lead. On the play, Brook Lopez also rolled his ankle, and limped off the court, but shortly returned seemingly free of effects.
Joe Johnson wound down the clock to 29.9 seconds, and nailed a running jumper in the lane to tie the game at ninety-two. Phoenix failed to score at the other end, and into overtime they went.
Tied 98-98 with under a minute left in O.T., the Nets and Suns both missed opportunities to take a lead. The Nets scrambled to recover a defensive rebound, and the ball wound up in Joe Johnson's hands. He made his way up court looking for trailers, but smartly opted for a running jumper with no time left to win the game for Brooklyn.
Finally, the Nets first road victory of the season was achieved in Phoenix by a 100-98 final score.
After scoring just two points in the first half, Brook Lopez emerged in the second half (and overtime) to drop 25 points on the Suns, for a total of 27 on the night. Brook led all scorers, and was the only player above 20 points.
Joe Johnson struggled mightily in the early portion of the game, shooting just 3/15 for most of three and a half quarters, but found his touch late, dropping huge buckets when it counted most. He ended the night with 13 points and of course nailed the game winner. Joe Jo also led the team in minutes. Paul Pierce logged in the second most minutes for Flatbush, and despite only scoring 14 points in 41 minutes, he kept the team's heads screwed on tight, and focused.
Kevin Garnett's struggles continued from the field, shooting just 2/8 in 28 minutes, but pulled down a game high 14 rebounds, and was the only player in double-digits.
Shaun Livingston has played very well off the bench this season, and was particularly huge on this night after Deron Williams went down., scoring 18 points and issuing 7 assists, in 37 minutes.
Above all, this was a defensive victory for the Nets. After a bad first quarter, Brooklyn kept a tight squeeze on Phoenix. Flatbush was especially active on defense late, causing the Suns to exhaust the shot clock several times and put up forced shots. And in overtime, it was the old guys, like Pierce and Garnett diving headlong into the hardwood after loose balls. Kevin Garnett provided a crucial tip in the final seconds of overtime that got the ball into Joe Johnson's hands for a final shot.
The Suns Goran Dragic was a virtual one man wrecking crew, and almost single-handedly brought down the Nets. He led all players with 46 minutes, scored 19 points and issued a game high 10 assists. He penetrated the Nets interior seemingly at will, lured in the defense and kicked the ball out very effectively. It was his last second shot in overtime that became Joe Johnson's game winning opportunity at the other end.
X-rays of Deron Williams' ankle came up negative, but the Nets offered no estimated time of return for their point guard.