The Houston Rockets snapped the Brooklyn Nets’ 4-game winning streak tonight as the Nets fell at home, 106-96. The Nets were down big early in this game, but worked their way back into it late. They got close, but were not able to get over the hump, partially because this was the first missed game of the season for Joe Johnson, Brooklyn’s closer. Carlos Delfino and James Harden each scored 22 for Houston. Brook Lopez finished with 27 for Brooklyn. Deron Williams had 15 points and 13 assists.
This game was between the team with the fastest pace in the league, Houston, and the slowest pace in the league, Brooklyn. Unfortunately for the Nets, the fast pace won out tonight and Houston was able to get this win. There was lots of scoring in the first quarter, which is dangerous for the Nets, but they only trailed by 3 heading into the second quarter. The Rockets expanded their lead in the quarter, mainly led by their bench. Greg Smith, Donatas Monteijunas, and Patrick Beverley combined to score 28 points in the game, and these players did lots of damage in the second quarter. The Nets trailed by 8 at halftime. In the third quarter, the Nets made a comeback and tied the game multiple times, but never were able to take the lead. However, they collapsed at the end of the quarter, and Houston took a 9-point lead heading into the fourth. The Rockets expanded their lead to as much as 15 in the fourth, but Brooklyn clawed their way back, mostly lead by Mirza Teletovic off the bench. The Nets got within 3 points with about 2 minutes to go, but Carlos Delfino and James Harden each had a couple of dagger 3′s to put the game out of reach.
There are definitely some positives we can take away from this game. First of all, the Nets were playing without Joe Johnson, arguably the MVP of the team this season, and they really could have used him in the fourth quarter tonight. Despite Johnson missing the game, the Nets did a great job guarding James Harden for 2 1/2 quarters before he caught fire at the end of the third. He really struggled for most of the game and shot a couple of airballs. Although he only had 3 turnovers, it seemed like more. Jeremy Lin also only had 9 points in the game.
The Nets had a pretty good game plan coming into this contest; they just didn’t execute well enough. Their biggest flaw was 3-point shooting. Houston always wants to have a 3-point shootout, and they baited the Nets into participating tonight. The Rockets shot 16-30 (53%) from 3 while Brooklyn only shot 10-30 (33%). If each team had just been 13-30 from 3, the Nets would have won this game by 8 points instead of losing by 10.
Although the Nets lost tonight, the Manhattan Knicks also lost, meaning the Nets didn’t lose any ground in the Atlantic division standings. Brooklyn is still only 1 game back and the Knicks have really fallen apart recently. If the Nets can continue playing the way they had been playing on their recent 4-game win streak, they will win the division.
For a box score of this game, click here.
Player grades and notes:
Gerald Wallace: C-
The only shot that Gerald Wallace can make consistently is the corner 3. He took too many non-corner 3 shots tonight, and because of that he shot 3-10 from the field. He made some good defensive plays with 5 steals, but he was atrocious on offense.
Brook Lopez: B+
Lopez had one of his best offensive games of the season but looked lost on defense for most of the night. Greg Smith and Donatas Montiejunas abused Brook and got many easy dunks. Still, Lopez finished with 27 points, a very good number.
Deron Williams: B+
Deron’s passing tonight was as good as we have seen this season. If only his shots were falling. He finished the game with 13 assists, but only shot 5-17 from the field. Deron does not like taking big shots with the game on the line. Instead, Keith Bogans and Mirza Teletovic were taking 3′s during the Nets’ comeback attempt. Deron needs to be more aggressive with the game on the line.
C.J. Watson: B+
Watson filled in nicely for Joe Johnson, who missed his first game of the season. C.J. finished with 17 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds, which is right on Johnson’s averages. He shot the ball pretty well and his defense was good. He can’t be blamed for the loss.
Mirza Teletovic: A-
Welcome back Mirza Teletovic! Mirza made his first shots in a very long time tonight and finally broke out of his extended slump. Teletovic played crunch time tonight and made a few big shots for the Nets. He finished with 12 points and 5 rebounds in only 7 minutes. He did miss a big 3 which would have kept the Nets in the game a little bit longer, but he can only do so much.
Keith Bogans: D
Bogans shot 2-9 from the field and 2-8 from 3 tonight, and that’s all you really need to know. He has hit some big shots for Brooklyn this year, but they were not falling tonight. He missed quite a few open looks and that hurt the team.
The Nets will be off tomorrow and then return to Barclays Center on Sunday night to face the Memphis Grizzlies, another team they were blown out by earlier this year. That game will be on ESPN and FRWD will have full coverage.