The Brooklyn Nets have had some easy wins against bad teams recently. That was not the case tonight. The Nets rode the strength of a 17-0 fourth quarter run to defeat the hottest team in the NBA, the Indiana Pacers, at Barclays Center Sunday night, 97-86. The Nets were led by their backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, who combined for 42 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists. David West played a heck of a game for Indiana and finished with 27 points on 11-19 shooting, but didn’t get much help from his teammates. This was the fourth straight game that the Nets have won by at least 10 points.
Deron Williams, who was questionable coming into the game, got the Nets off to a hot start. He had 12 first quarter points and the Nets held a 6-point lead at the end of the first. However, Indiana fought back in the second quarter and took a 3-point lead heading into halftime. The biggest reason for their lead was David West. He was beating Nets power forwards with his shooting. He has one of the best mid-range jump shots in the NBA. The third quarter was not terrible for the Nets, but it was not good either. They trailed at times by over 10 points, but they cut Indiana’s lead to only 6 heading into the fourth quarter. This was Indiana’s third game in four nights, and it showed in the fourth quarter. After scoring the first basket of the quarter, Indiana was held scoreless for over 4 minutes while the Nets went on a 17-0 run to grab a big lead that they would never let go.
This was obviously an important win for Brooklyn. It was a statement win for the team against a very good Indiana team who had been playing very well. Indiana had won 4 straight games heading into tonight and had won 10 of their past 12. With the win, the Nets now have a 6-game winning streak, their longest since 2006, and are now only a 1/2 game behind Indiana for third place in the East. They are only 3 games behind Miami for the conference lead and only 2 games behind the Knicks for second place.
For a box score of this game, click here.
Player grades and notes:
Reggie Evans: C+
Reggie did not have one of his better games. He only had 6 rebounds tonight, well below his season average and his per minute average. Additionally, he was completely unable to guard David West, who burned the Nets with his jump shots throughout the night.
Brook Lopez: B
Brook had a very rough start to this game, but he played very well in the fourth quarter. He started the game shooting just 1-8 from the field but he finished at 5-14, making 4 of his last 6 shots. He also definitely won his matchup with Roy Hibbert. Hibbert was in foul trouble throughout the game and finished with only 6 points and 7 rebounds. Brook had 9 rebounds in the game.
Deron Williams: A
Deron Williams wasn’t even sure if he would play in this game, but I don’t know why he was listed as questionable. He had one of his best games of the season and was very aggressive. He finished with 22 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds, and he ran the offense beautifully against the NBA’s best defense. He didn’t show any signs of his leg bothering him.
Joe Johnson: A-
Joe had a pretty good game, finishing with 20 points and 5 rebounds. He made most of his open shots including a couple of 3′s during the Nets’ 17-0 run in the fourth quarter. He played good defense on Paul George, who didn’t have one of his better games possibly because he had flu-like symptoms.
Kris Humphries: A-
The Hump was surprisingly the first man off the bench for the Nets tonight after missing the last couple of games. He was really a spark plug for Brooklyn in the first half and finished with 10 points and 9 rebounds. He barely played in the second half, possibly because P.J. Carlesimo trusted the players who have been playing recently more, but this was an encouraging performance from Kris.
Andray Blatche: C-
Blatche had one of his worst games of the season. He never got it going against Roy Hibbert and only shot 1-8 from the field. When the Nets signed Blatche, we knew he would have some of these games but luckily they haven’t happened as much as many expected.
C.J. Watson: A-
C.J. Watson played a very important role in this game. He was on the court with Deron Williams for most of the fourth quarter and was essential in their 17-0 run. He finished the game with 8 points and 4 rebounds while shooting 4-4 from the field.
The Nets will have tomorrow night off and then be back at the Barclays Center to meet the Toronto Raptors for the third time this season, followed by a very important home-and-home with the Atlanta Hawks. FRWD will have full coverage of those games.