The suddenly injured Brooklyn Nets fought back from a slow first half to blow out the Phoenix Suns on Friday night in Brooklyn, 99-79. The Nets trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half, but used another huge third quarter to fight back into the game and take the lead. Brooklyn blew out Phoenix in the fourth quarter to win their third straight game by 20 or more points, the first time the franchise has done that since the Nets were in the ABA. Brooklyn was led by Joe Johnson’s 19 points and Marshon Brooks’s 17 off the bench. Jared Dudley had 18 points on 4-4 3-point shooting for Phoenix.
This game was a tale of two halves. After two days off, the Nets came out sluggish tonight and did not look very motivated. The ball seemed to be bouncing Phoenix’s way and the Nets trailed 53-46 at halftime. The Nets immediately came out with more energy in the third quarter, led by Andray Blatche and Deron Williams. They quickly erased the deficit and even held an 8-point lead heading into the fourth quarter when the lead got as large as 22 points. The Nets’ defense was spectacular in the second half and the Nets outscored Phoenix 53-26 in the half, more than doubling Phoenix’s production.
One big issue in this game was Nets injuries. Heading into the game, Kris Humphries was out with a sore foot, Jerry Stackhouse was out with a continuing ankle problem, and Mirza Teletovic was out with the flu. Additionally, Joe Johnson was feeling under the weather (but his play didn’t show that). Within the first 6 minutes of the game, Gerald Wallace was fouled very hard by P.J. Tucker and did not return to the game. He was sent back to the locker room and x-rays determined that he has bruised ribs. As of now, he is questionable for Sunday’s game. Then, in the third quarter, Deron Williams crashed into Goran Dragic and injured his thigh. He stayed in the game, but he might be bruised and is also questionable moving forward. Then, in the final moments, Andray Blatche appeared to be holding his wrist. The injury did not look serious, but we don’t yet have any information on it. Clearly, Brooklyn was fortunate to be playing a team as poor as Phoenix, or else they could have easily lost this game.
For a box score of this game, click here.
Player grades and notes:
Reggie Evans: B+
Reggie had another good game with 15 rebounds (5 offensive, 10 defensive) and 7 points. The reason he doesn’t get a higher grade was his foul shooting. He was 1-6 from the line in the game and nearly had a couple of air balls. Obviously, foul shooting isn’t Reggie’s strength, but it would be nice to see him show some improvement in that area.
Brook Lopez: C
Lopez had another off night, but luckily again, the nets didn’t need him. Brook had his worst shooting game of the season, shooting only 5-16 from the field. He still managed to score 13 points to go along with 8 rebounds. Defensively he played well against Marcin Gortat and Jermaine O’Neal.
Deron Williams: A-
Deron had a very efficient game tonight. On only 5 field goal attempts, he scored 15 points. His 7 made free throws definitely helped and he also dished out 6 assists. He banged his thigh in the third quarter but stayed in the game. However, I don’t think he is guaranteed to play on Sunday against Indiana. This is the kind of injury that turns into a bruise and will slow Deron down. He was seen limping on and off the court throughout this game. Hopefully his leg will heal quickly.
Joe Johnson: A
Joe Johnson was a game-time decision tonight because he had a very bad cold. Even with that cold, he was hot from the field, shooting 8-19 from the floor and 3-4 from 3. He also had two back-to-back dagger 3’s in the fourth quarter that put the game out of reach for Phoenix. P.J. Tucker was guarding Joe in this game, and for those of you who may not be familiar with Tucker, he is a very tough defender and was harassing Joe all night. 19 points against Tucker is impressive.
Andray Blatche: A-
Blatche had another good game off the bench. He scored 15 points on 6-14 shooting and also had 8 rebounds (4 offensive). He made a couple of very nice drives to the basket in this game and was one of the big reasons the Nets opened up their lead in the third quarter. Blatche has been playing very well the last couple of games and hopefully he can keep it up.
Marshon Brooks: A
Marshon is officially out of the Nets coaches’ doghouse. Tonight he scored a season high 17 points in only 22 minutes off the bench. He shot above 50% from the field and was 6-6 from the foul line. Also, most of his scoring did not come in garbage time in this game. Marshon is a very good scorer and is a talented basketball player. The Nets would be wise to keep him in the rotation.
The Nets now have lots of injuries and will have one day off to recover. On Sunday they will be back in Brooklyn for a showdown with the Indiana Pacers with playoff positioning on the line. We will have full coverage of that game on FRWD.