Despite Deron Williams missing his second straight game, the Brooklyn Nets held off a late rally to defeat the Denver Nuggets 119-108 Wednesday night at Barclays Center. Their 119 points were a season high, topping the 115 they scored against the Sacramento Kings in January. Brooklyn was led by Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, and C.J. Watson, who each scored over 20 points. Watson replaced Deron Williams in the starting lineup. Denver was led by Ty Lawson, who had 26 points and 9 assists in the game.
The first quarter of this game looked like your typical Nets game: slow pace, a little boring, some ugly plays, and Brooklyn trailed by 3 after 1. Then, everything changed in the second quarter. The Nets started hitting all of their 3′s and their ball movement was spectacular en route to having their best offensive quarter of the season: 39 points. Although Brooklyn’s defense was not very good in the quarter, they still had a 5-point lead at halftime. The third quarter was similar to the second. The Nets expanded their lead to as much as 20 points midway through the quarter thanks to great passing and shooting, but Denver closed the quarter on a small run. Still, Brooklyn led by 14 heading into the fourth. In the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, the Nets began to collapse and this started to become very similar to the Minnesota game in the beginning of the season. In that game, the Nets blew a huge second half lead and lost. Although Denver cut the lead to as small as 5, Brooklyn got it together in the end and was still able to win by 11 points.
Brooklyn played some beautiful basketball in the second and third quarters tonight, leading to some excellent offensive numbers. The team shot 55% from the field and 59% from 3 (16-27). Their 16 3′s are a season high. They also had 29 assists, which is one of their best totals of the season, and only 13 turnovers, many of which came during the early 4th quarter collapse.
This all gets me thinking. It is very interesting that Deron Williams didn’t play in this game and the Nets all of a sudden had this offensive explosion. I am not saying that they should bench him in favor of C.J. Watson, but it is still worth noting.
Also of note is that Denver had two key players injured tonight: Andre Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari. In my mind there is no doubt that Iguodala would have been able to contain Joe Johnson more than Corey Brewer was able to do, but the Nets caught a break and they will take it. Denver also had some good offensive numbers tonight: 53% FG, 12-17 3-pt FG (70%!!!), and 25 assists. As expected Ty Lawson had a great game, but he needed more help and better defense for Denver to win this one.
For a box score of this game, click here.
Player grades and notes:
Gerald Wallace: B
Wallace did a little bit of everything tonight and led the team with a +22. He had 8 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and all 3 Brooklyn blocks. He did a pretty nice job on Wilson Chandler.
Brook Lopez: A
Lopez had a very quiet 23 points and 8 rebounds tonight. He didn’t have many highlight reel plays, but was effective on both offense and defense. Although he did not record a block, he effected a lot of shots on defense and shot an excellent 9-15 on offense. There was not much more he could have done in this game.
C.J. Watson: A+
C.J. Watson had a surprising and excellent performance tonight. After a very bad game on Monday in Indiana when he was benched in the fourth quarter and overtime in favor of Tyshawn Taylor, Watson responded with his best game of the season tonight. In 36 minutes, Watson had 25 points and 6 assists on 8-12 shooting from the field and 5-7 from 3. He made nearly all of his 3′s and did a great job getting the ball movement going. The Nets did not miss Deron Williams tonight because of how well Watson played.
Joe Johnson: A+
JJ had his best game in a long time and his first 20+ point game since the Knicks game in January. Without Deron Williams in the lineup, Johnson responded with 26 points and a season high 9 assists. He shot the ball great and got his teammates involved too. This may have been Johnson’s best game of the season to this point.
Kris Humphries: A-
Kris Humphries had one of his better games tonight in 20 minutes of playing time. He did most of his damage in the second quarter when the Nets scored 39 points. He finished the game with 14 and was a perfect 4-4 from the foul line.
Surprisingly, the Brooklyn Nets have finished the first half of their season with two excellent wins over Indiana and Denver without Deron Williams. Although it has been an up-and-down first half of the season, this team definitely ended on a positive note tonight. Most of the Nets will have some time off now and they will not play again until next Tuesday vs. Milwaukee. However, Brook Lopez will be heading to Houston to participate in the NBA all-star game on Sunday night. FRWD will have full coverage of Lopez in that game, as well as lots of coverage in the days leading up to it.