In the first nationally televised Brooklyn Nets game, the Nets hung on to defeat the Boston Celtics 102-97 Thursday night on TNT. Brook Lopez and Deron Williams each scored 24 points for the Nets. Paul Pierce scored 22 for Boston. Rajon Rondo did not play because of an injury. This game was very similar to many Nets games we have already seen this year. The Nets had a small lead after the first quarter and then opened the game up in the second quarter to take a 9-point lead into halftime. But in the third quarter, the Nets’ offense stopped moving the ball and Boston came back to take a 5-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Nets played pretty good defense in the fourth to take the lead back. The deciding factor in the game was that the Nets made their foul shots down the stretch, while Boston did not.
I have no idea how Brooklyn managed to win this game. When the Nets took a 13-point lead early on the third quarter, I knew the lead would not be safe and I was right. However, I didn’t think that Boston would come back so quickly, and when they took a 5-point lead heading into the fourth, I didn’t think that the Nets would have a chance at a comeback, and I’m still not sure how they managed to come back. In the fourth quarter, their defense was fine, though not spectacular, and their offense was not as good as it was in the first half. There were too many isolation situations, especially with Joe Johnson, and so far this season, those plays have not ended well. Somehow, the Nets were able to build a small lead and hold off the Celtics late thanks to Deron Williams’s foul shooting.
At the end of the fourth quarter today, Avery Johnson tried a very interesting strategy, and somehow it worked. On two separate occasions, with the Nets ahead by 4 points, Avery chose to foul Boston. That play doesn’t make any sense and I hope that Avery never does that again, but it worked out tonight. However, the Nets got a lot of help from Boston. After starting the game shooting 18-19 from the foul line, Boston only made 2 of their last 6 free throws, including an 0-2 from both Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. Pierce is an 81% career foul shooter and Terry shoots it at 85%. Whatever. A win is a win.
The Nets are now 5-2 on the season, while Boston fell to 5-4. This is where I expected the Nets to be and am pleasantly surprised to see them with this record. They have also won 4 games in a row, although none of the wins (ok, maybe the first game against Orlando) have been pretty. After this game, the Nets go on a 3-game western conference trip. They should be able to hopefully win 2 of those games, and if they do, they will begin the season with a very nice 7-3 record.
For a box score of this game, click here.
Player grades and notes:
Kris Humphries: B+
Humphries got his double-double tonight with 10 points and 13 rebounds. He did everything the Nets asked from him. He rebounded better than Lopez as usual.
Brook Lopez: A-
This was looking like one of those games where Brook has a great first quarter and then disappears in the second half. But Brook actually had a very good 4th quarter tonight. He had one especially good play where he got an offensive rebound and layup in a clutch situation. He also held Garnett to 14 points and had 4 blocks. Good game from Lopez.
Deron Williams: A-
The best thing that Deron Williams did tonight was make his crunch time foul shots. He was 9-9 from the foul line today while playing his first meaningful game on national television in almost 2 years. In the third quarter when the Nets’ offense started falling apart, Williams was one of the reasons why, but this could have been from a leg injury that could still have been bothering him. It was not a serious injury and he came back and played immediately.
Joe Johnson: B
Joe Johnson had a really terrible first three quarters, but then Avery Johnson turned to Iso-Joe in the 4th. This worked to some extent, but he still took some bad shots. Johnson’s 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals helped.
Reggie Evans: B
Reggie played a lot of important minutes for the Nets tonight because they needed so much help in the rebounding game. He even played important minutes in the fourth quarter. He had 9 rebounds in the game, so he did his job.
Jerry Stackhouse: B
Since when is Jerry Stackhouse playing over 20 minutes per game? I didn’t know his body could handle that. He didn’t do much, but he had one huge 3-pointer in the fourth quarter to tie the game up. I thought that Stackhouse would be the last player off the bench for the Nets this year but he has been getting a lot of playing time recently.
The Nets will now have 2 days off and then start a 3-game western trip in Sacramento, Los Angeles (Lakers), and Golden State. They play Sacramento on Sunday afternoon and we will have full coverage at FRWD.