The wins continue for the Brooklyn Nets, with the latest victory being a wire-to-wire win over the short-handed Minnesota Timberwolves, 91-83. The Nets were again led by their big 3 of Brook Lopez, Deron Williams, and Joe Johnson. Brook scored 22 points while Deron and Joe each contributed 18 a piece. C.J. Watson also had 14 points off the bench. For Minnesota, who was missing 6 key players, 5 players scored in double figures, led by Andrei Kirilenko’s 15.
Here at FRWD, this is what we like to call a “hanging around” game. This means a team never really has a chance to win the game, but is always on the perimeter of threatening to come back and take the lead. After the Nets jumped out to a 14-2 lead in this game, Minnesota was able to come back and make it a little bit interesting. They cut the Nets’ lead to just 1 in the second quarter, until Deron Williams returned to the game and made a couple of shots to give Brooklyn an 11-point lead at halftime. The third quarter was another bad one for the Nets, as they were outscored 20-15, but never lost the lead. Minnesota cut Brooklyn’s lead to as small as 2 points in the fourth quarter, but the Nets always had an answer. C.J. Watson, Joe Johnson, and Deron Williams each made big shots in the fourth to put the game away.
Although this was not a pretty win and was too close for comfort against a team missing so many players, a road win is a road win, especially against a western conference team who entered the game 11-6 at home. With the win, the Nets will go over .500 on the road this season at 10-9, a pretty impressive record. They are now tied with Indiana (who plays Portland later tonight) for third place in the east and are only 1/2 game behind Manhattan, who will be in Boston tomorrow night. If the struggling Celtics can find a way to win that game, the Atlantic division will be all tied up.
For a box score of this game, click here.
Player grades and notes:
Brook Lopez: B+
Brook had an efficient game, scoring 22 points in only 26 minutes. He also had 7 rebounds and 2 blocks, but was only 2-5 from the foul line. However, this was Brook’s game to dominate. The Timberwolves didn’t have either Kevin Love or Nikola Pekovic playing in this game and Lopez’s biggest competition was Greg Stiemsma. Lopez raised his scoring average in this game and is still the leading scorer among NBA centers. It would be a travesty for him not to make the all-star team.
Deron Williams: A-
Deron had his typical game: 18 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals. He also hit a dagger 3-pointer in this game to put the Nets up 10 with a little over a minute to go.
Joe Johnson: A-
JJ had another effective game, scoring 18 points on 8-16 shooting. He did a good job defensively on Ricky Rubio and he also had a couple of big shots in this game, including a 3-pointer with the Nets only up 2 and about 5 minutes left in the game.
Kris Humphries: C+
It’s official: Kris Humphries has returned to the rotation. Today he had 2 points on only 1-5 shooting, but also had 8 rebounds. He missed a lot of shots near the rim and got blocked lots of times. Still, he was pretty active in the game.
Andray Blatche: C
Blatche did not play very well for the second straight game. He had 9 points and 5 rebounds on only 3-11 shooting. He missed a couple of layups and also turned the ball over while trying to lead a fast break. He should have played much better tonight.
C.J. Watson: A
C.J. had one of his best games in a long time, scoring 14 points on 6-8 shooting in 20 minutes. He also played for all of crunch time with the 3-man backcourt of C.J., Deron, and Joe Johnson. He made a couple of big shots in the fourth quarter today and also played good defense on J.J. Barea, including drawing a charge. Barea and Watson both played pretty chippy games.
After today the Nets will fly to a much warmer place, Memphis, where they will play the Grizzlies on Friday. Memphis has been one of the better teams in the western conference this year and that could be a statement game if Brooklyn can win.