BROOKLYN NETS: Flatbush Turning Up The Heat On The Eastern Conference; Move Into 5th Spot With Road Victory Over Miami.
Who's Doubting Jason Kidd Now?
Look what Brooklyn did to the Heat - again! In their first clash away from Flatbush, the Nets defeated Miami for the third time in three meetings this season. For what is now officially the hottest team in basketball, oh how sweet it was.
The Nets improved to 33-30 for the season, and 6-1 in March. Toronto destroyed Detroit, so Brooklyn remains three games behind the Raptors for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Nets however, improved their standing in the Eastern Conference, by moving into the fifth spot.
Once again led by Paul Pierce, the Nets gained victory Wednesday evening with another offensively strong third quarter, more hustle on defense and key stops down the stretch, with continued strong bench play, and despite Deron Williams committing yet more late game turnovers.
Whatever works, right?
Lately, we've been getting the best and worst of Deron Williams. His turnover with 2:30 left in the 4th quarter allowed Miami to tie the game 92-92, a play which closely mirrored his late game turnover against the Raptors in Monday's game. He then buried a huge pull-up jumper to put Brooklyn ahead 96-92 with 35.8 seconds left. But he then missed on the Nets last possession, allowing Miami to gain possession, and call a time-out with 3.5 seconds left, and down by a point.
For the game, Deron Williams was a mere 2/8 from the field, and 1/3 from beyond the arch. He only scored 6 points, but dished out a game high 8 assists. Joe Johnson had a similar night, finishing the night with 8 points, on 2/10 shooting from the field, and a worse 1/6 from beyond the arch. And, Kevin Garnett missed his seventh straight game.
Yet, the Nets prevailed. Paul Pierce was big man on campus. A sore shoulder has apparently enhanced his game. He scored 17 in the third quarter, and made it rain with 5 three-pointers throughout the game. Pierce led all scorers with 29 points,but none bigger than with less than two minutes to go, he burst through the lane for a lay-up which put Brooklyn back up by a 94-92 score. He was resilience at its finest, and retro all night long.
The Nets out-rebounded the Heat - something they did not do against Toronto. Wednesday's game however, boiled down to one defensive play at the very end, when Shaun Livingston deflected Miami's in-bounds pass to end the game, and preserve a 96-95 Brooklyn victory.
Shaun Livingston scored 13 points, and pulled down a team high 7 rebounds. He and LeBron James tied with a game high 38-minutes of floor time. Off the bench, Mirza Teletovic (or MT3), was huge with 17 points and four rebounds, and Andray Blatche scored another 11 points.
Chris Bosh was high scorer for Miami with 24 points. Dwayne Wade scored 22 points, while LeBron James was held to 19 points, on 6/13 from the field, and was kept especially quiet in the 4th quarter.
As noted, the Nets climbed into the fifth spot of the Eastern Conference standings, one-half game ahead of the Washington Wizards, whom they face Saturday night in the nation's capital. Washington has gotten the best of Brooklyn in two previous meetings this season.
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How do people like Jason Kidd's coaching skills now? When he and Lawrence Frank were still working together, the Nets got off to a 5-12 start. Their beef reportedly erupted somewhere around November 4th or so, resulting from many growing differences of opinion, but their main disagreements reportedly involved defensive issues. After the falling out, the team suffered through the rest of the month with a 4-10 record. Since Jason Kidd jettisoned Lawrence Frank from the sidelines in early December, the Nets have posted a 28-18 record. The Nets are now 23-9 in the new year, and counting.