The Brooklyn Nets improved to 2-0 under interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo as they squeaked by the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-100 on Saturday night. This was not a pretty game at all and the Nets almost blew another double-digit first half lead, but they never trailed in the second half. Brooklyn was led by Brook Lopez, who had his best game of the season with 35 points and 11 rebounds. For Cleveland, C.J. Miles had a surprising 33 points off the bench, although Kyrie Irving was held to only 13 points.
As in the Bobcats game last night, Brooklyn jumped out to a big early lead and scored 34 points in the first quarter, led by Brook Lopez. In fact, that was the only quarter where Brooklyn outscored Cleveland in this game. The Cavs chipped away at the lead a bit in the second quarter, but the Nets still held a comfortable 8-point lead at halftime. Although Brook Lopez had 21 first half points, C.J. Miles had 22 at the half, but luckily for the Nets, no other Cavalier was shooting well. After scoring 61 points in the first half, the team slowed down drastically in the second half and only scored 42. The Cavs ended the third quarter on a good-sized run and only trailed by 5 heading into the final frame. In the fourth, the Cavs got within 1 point in the last 10 seconds, but Kyrie Irving missed a would-have-been-game-tying 3 at the buzzer. The Nets were very lucky to escape with this win.
The Nets cannot be happy with how this game went. One of the main reasons Avery Johnson was fired was because the Nets kept on allowing bad teams to comeback against them, and that is exactly what happened tonight. The Cavs have a worse record than the Bobcats, who are on an 18-game losing streak. Also, they had no answer at all for C.J. Miles, who scored 33 points even though he is averaging 10 ppg this season. He shot 11-15 from the field and 8-10 from 3 which is unacceptable.
Other than guarding Miles, the Nets defense was solid. The rest of the team shot 1-10 from 3 and 27-67 from the field (40%). The Nets themselves didn’t shoot great, but they were good enough, especially in the first half. The biggest reason why they didn’t blow this game was turnovers. They only had 12 of them while Cleveland had 18.
This second half collapse is a very dangerous trend that has to stop immediately. They will not be able to beat playoff teams if they play like they did today in the second half of games. Nets fans were hoping that P.J. Carlesimo would be able to wake the team up in the second half because Avery Johnson was not getting to them, but apparently they are still not listening to him. Mikhail Prokhorov was in attendance tonight, and he could not have been happy with what he saw. Expect him to hire a different coach soon.
For a box score of this game, click here.
Player grades and notes:
Gerald Wallace: C+
After not scoring at all yesterday, Wallace had 7 points on 1-6 shooting from the field and 5-8 shooting from the foul line. He was one of three Nets with double figure rebounds, which helped a lot. I’m not sure if he was responsible at all for guarding C.J. Miles, but the entire team was unable to guard him. Wallace needs to do a better job of making his foul shots and layups. He could have easily scored 15 points tonight.
Brook Lopez: A+
Wow Brook Lopez. In his last 3 games, he is averaging over 27 points and 10 rebounds per game and tonight was no exception. He recorded season highs in points and rebounds and finished with 35 and 11. Granted, Anderson Varejao did not play, but Lopez was still great. He had 15 points in the first quarter and 21 at halftime, but the Nets stopped going to him in the third. They returned to him in fourth quarter crunch time which really helped the Nets win the game. He shot a good percentage from both the field and the foul line. You can’t ask for any more from Brook.
Deron Williams: B
Deron had a pretty average game, nothing spectacular. He did not make a 3 tonight after hitting three last night and finished with 15 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds. He made some nice crossovers and spin-moves and he occasionally ran a nice pick and roll with Brook Lopez.
Joe Johnson: B-
Joe Johnson also had a pretty average game. He finished with 15 points, but only 2 rebounds and 2 assists. He did make clutch foul shots with 3 seconds remaining to put the Nets up by 3, but that was the only time he got to the foul line tonight.
Reggie Evans: A-
This was a very Reggie game. He finished with 10 rebounds in 22 minutes as usual. The difference for Reggie was his offense. He actually tried to score a little bit tonight and finished with 7 points. He shot 1-5 from the field and a surprising 5-6 from the foul line. If Reggie had shot closer to his average, like 2-6, this game would have been tied. He also actually dribbled while leading a fast break and drew a foul. I have definitely never seen that from him before. Reggie had a fun night.
Andray Blatche: C
Blatche has not played well recently. He did not score in the second half and did not play much in that half at all. In the first half, he actually made a corner 3 which was very surprising, but he only had 1 rebound in 12 minutes. Now that P.J. Carlesimo is head coach, Blatche may be getting pushed out of the rotation.
After tonight the Nets will travel to Texas and have a short 2-game western trip against 2 very tough opponents, the Spurs and Thunder. The Spurs game will be on New Year’s Eve in two days and we will have full coverage of that one here at FRWD.