Are the Brooklyn Nets the best team in New York? It sure looks like it. The Nets held off a ferocious fourth quarter rally from Kyle Lowry and hung on to defeat the Toronto Raptors 113-106 Tuesday night in one of their best offensive performances of the season. The Nets had a very balanced scoring effort, scoring at least 27 points in every quarter and getting over 20 from each member of their Big 3, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez. Mirza Teletovic and Andray Blatche also scored in double figures off the bench. Toronto was led by Kyle Lowry, who scored 21 points in only 15 minutes because of an ankle injury he suffered in the first half. 19 of his points came in the fourth quarter.
The Nets were very lethargic to start this game and din’t seem very interested. Through the first half of the second quarter, the Nets had only scored 30 points total and only 3 points in the entire second quarter. The spark for Brooklyn came off the bench in the form of Mirza Teletvoic, who made three huge 3’s in the second quarter to erase a 10-point Toronto lead and give Brooklyn a 4-point lead at halftime. In the second half the Nets offense was clicking leading them to score 59 points. Everyone was playing well, especially on offense. The game would have been more of a blowout if not for Kyle Lowry who tried to bring the Raptors back into the game by making some heroic 3-pointers in the final 3 minutes.
This was a very clean game for Brooklyn. They only had 6 turnovers, a season low, while forcing Toronto to turn the ball over 13 times. They also shot very well from the foul line (25-28) and Brook Lopez and Deron Williams combined to shoot 18-18. Deron Williams has now made his last 40 foul shots in a row, a pretty incredible stat. The Nets did not shoot well from 3 in the first half (expect Teletovic), but they shot very well in the second half and knocked down nearly all of their open 3’s. Defensively, the Nets weren’t bad, but they weren’t great. They were outrebounded by the Raptors 41-34 and the Raptors had too many easy looks off of offensive rebounds. Still, there is not much that you can criticize this team for right now. They have won 7 games in a row, 9 of their past 10 under P.J. Carlesimo, and haven’t lost at home since Christmas.
For a box score of this game, click here.
Player grades and notes:
Brook Lopez: A
Lopez was surprisingly effective tonight. He scored 22 points, but it really didn’t seem like it. That’s because most of his damage came at the foul line, where he shot 10-10. He also had 9 rebounds and 2 blocks. With the all-star rosters being announced soon, it would be surprising if Lopez was not considered for the team.
Deron Williams: A
Deron has played much better since P.J. has taken over, and tonight was another example of that. He shot well from the field, but was only 1-5 from 3. He had 7 assists including one beautiful fast break involving Marshon Brooks which ended with an Andray Blatche dunk. That might have been the Nets’ play of the season so far.
Joe Johnson: A
Joe Johnson had another effective game with 21 points, 5 rebound, and 5 assists. He knocked down his open looks and was able to get into the paint for floaters like he is usually able to do. He played good defense on DeMar DeRozan and held him to only 12 points. This is the Joe Johnson who the Nets traded for in the summer.
Mirza Teletovic: A
Teletovic had his best game since the Sacramento game a few weeks ago. He came off the bench in the second quarter and really woke up the Nets’ offense by hitting his 3’s. All 10 of his points came in the second quarter, although he also got some time in the second half. In this game he proved he is not only a shooter. He rebounded and defended pretty well. Most surprising was his passing. He made some beautiful passes tonight to open teammates for 3’s. Keep it up Mirza.
Andray Blatche: A-
Blatche was sick before this game, but didn’t play like it tonight. He had 14 points on 7-10 shooting in only 19 minutes, a very efficient game. Also, many of his points were very easy dunks and layups. Usually, Blatche has to make difficult turnarounds or spin-moves, but he needed very few of those tonight. The Raptors’ defense definitely helped him out.
The Nets will be flying to Atlanta after the game and will face the struggling Hawks tomorrow night. They will also play the Hawks on Friday night in Brooklyn in the second half of a home-and-home. FRWD will have full coverage of both Atlanta games.