Huge win for Brooklyn, scoring a 93-80 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on the road. The win gives Brooklyn plenty of reasons to smile. This win gives Brooklyn the current lead over Atlanta in the regular season series 2-1, but thanks to news about New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire out the next six weeks, it gives them momentum going into the final six weeks of the season. The news gives Brooklyn a realistic chance of passing New York in the upcoming weeks for the Atlantic Division crown. Let’s break down this game.
The telling number is turnovers. Both teams ranked in the bottom ten in terms of turnover rate in the league, but Brooklyn prevailed in the turnover battle with just nine turnovers to Atlanta’s 17 total turnovers. Along those lines, Brooklyn also got a huge boost in the second quarter, holding Atlanta to just 14 points in the quarter. Overall, the defense was just spectacular, holding Atlanta to just 41% shooting, but kept Atlanta off the three-point line. Eliminating Atlanta’s extra chances to get threes allowed Brooklyn to force them into terrible shots, and those shots, combined with numerous turnovers, was instrumental in this victory.
Deron Williams: 17 points, 6 assists, 5-13 shooting
Williams was alright on the offensive end, but the defensive end is where he shined. While Williams is a noted poor defensive player, I was highly impressed with some of his defensive looks, whether it was solo or help defense, on Jeff Teague. Williams’ size allowed him to man up on Teague, and that created disruption in Teague’s game. On offense, the six assists were very key in Williams’ performance, setting up Wallace and Lopez for easy shots. A solid performance for Williams. Grade: A
Joe Johnson: 8 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, 4-13 shooting
Dealing with an injury, Johnson did his best just doing the little things tonight. I wasn’t impressed with Johnson on the defensive end (Devin Harris got to the basket multiple times), but Johnson was active, as evidenced by the four steals. On offense, Johnson realized he didn’t have it early, and he adjusted, moving the ball around, and becoming a facilitator for the offense. Grade: B
Gerald Wallace: 9 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, 4-11 shooting
Again, Brooklyn has to find ways to get Wallace going on the offensive end, but that wasn’t going to stop Wallace from being actie on the defensive end. The numbers might not say it, but Wallace was very active on the defensive end, and even though his rebounding numbers weren’t great, he was around the rim making numerous plays. Grade: C
Reggie Evans: 6 points, 9 rebounds, 1-2 shooting
Huge performance from Evans. Not only did he effect shooters at the basket, but he also scored. The rebounds are just clutch at this point. Grade: A
Brook Lopez: 18 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, 8-16 shooting
Just excellent for Brook Lopez. Not only did Lopez score efficiency, but he also grabbed nine rebounds, and he also played well on Al Horford. Brook Lopez’s defense on Horford away from the basket was huge, not allowing Horford to shoot the jumper forced him to go inside, where both Lopez and Evans negated him. It was a huge defensive game for Lopez, and I think that is the biggest reason why Brooklyn won. Grade: A
X-Factor: Andray Blatche. Blatche finished the night with 18 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, and 4 steals on 9-11 shooting. Blatche was unstoppable. It was a throwback performance to Blatche’s early Wizard days. Blatche just had his way inside the paint, and when he took a step outside, he was still effective. He isn’t a great rebounder, but he’ll always to put the ball in the basket, and tonight was his night.
The Nets travel to Philadelphia to play the 76ers on Monday.