It wasn’t pretty at all, but the Brooklyn Nets will take road wins any way they can get them. The Nets defeated the Phoenix Suns Sunday night 102-100 despite blowing a 16-point 3rd quarter lead. Brooklyn was led by Deron Williams’s 20 points and 11 assists. Kris Humphries also had 17 points and 8 rebounds off the bench. Joe Johnson did not play. Goran Dragic had 31 points, 12 assists, and 9 rebounds for Phoenix. Wes Johnson also scored 21 points and hit five 3’s.
The Nets seemed a little bit slow at the beginning of this game, but that is not surprising seeing they had a tough loss in Phoenix last night. Brooklyn woke up in the second quarter, led by the bench, and took a 12-point lead into halftime. Their lead grew to as many as 16 points in the third quarter before Phoenix started their comeback, led by Wes Johnson, who hit five 3’s in the quarter. Somehow, Phoenix made their comeback very quickly and took a 1-point lead into the fourth. This was yet another blown third quarter double-digit lead for Brooklyn. In the fourth quarter, the Nets regained control, but the Suns continued to hang around. With the Nets up 3 and with 3 seconds remaining in the game, Brooklyn intentionally fouled Goran Dragic so that Phoenix would not be able to attempt a 3. After making the first foul shot, Dragic missed the second on purpose. Hamed Haddadi got the rebound, but did not even hit the rim on his layup attempt. Brooklyn escaped from Phoenix with a scary win.
The Nets played significantly worse tonight than they did last night in LA, but luckily for them, they were playing the Phoenix Suns, the worst team in the western conference. The Nets had a lot of problems tonight, mainly in defense and rebounding. The Nets were out-rebounded 48-44 in the game and gave up a whopping 25 offensive rebounds, including many in crunch time. If Phoenix was a more capable offensive team, they would have converted on more of their second chances. The other issue was defense. The Nets allowed Goran Dragic to have 31 points and 12 assists and Wes Johnson made five 3’s in one quarter. That’s not acceptable for a playoff team.
Despite all this, the Nets improve to 3-1 on their 8-game road trip, which they have to be happy about. Road wins are not easy to come by in the NBA and Brooklyn is now 19-15 on the road. They are halfway done with the road trip, but still have difficult games to come.
For a box score of this game, click here.
Player grades and notes:
Reggie Evans: D+
Even though Reggie had 10 rebounds in this game, he could have had so many more. The Suns missed 58 shots in this game and got 25 offensive rebounds. That is terrible for the Nets. Reggie was responsible for a lot of that. He was outplayed by Markieff Morris, who had 9 offensive rebounds alone. However, Reggie did have a couple of important rebounds in crunch time. Offensively, he did very little as usual.
Gerald Wallace: B-
Wallace was again able to occasionally hit some long shots and finished with 9 points and 8 rebounds. He missed an important foul shot in crunch time, but he should not have had the ball in the first place. Nothing remarkable or terrible from Gerald tonight.
Brook Lopez: C+
Even though Brook Lopez scored 21 points, he could have played so much better. He was only 6-16 from the field and most of his points came from the foul line. The Suns’ only true center is Hamed Haddadi, who was not getting any playing time earlier this year in Memphis. Lopez should have had 30. Also, Lopez only had 5 rebounds while Haddadi had 6 in only 21 minutes of playing time. Not good. And when Goran Dragic got into the paint, Lopez did little to contest his shots.
Deron Williams: B+
Deron played very well in crunch time on offense which secured the win for the Nets. Without Joe Johnson tonight, Deron was still passing the ball very well, which led to 11 assists in the game. However, for the second straight night, he was outplayed by Goran Dragic, who may have had the best game of his career. The Nets’ point guard defense continues to be a problem.
Kris Humphries: A-
Kris Humphries returned to the rotation in a big way tonight, scoring 17 points to go along with 8 rebounds in 28 minutes off the bench. P.J. played The Hump over Reggie or Mirza Teletovic in crunch time also. Although Humphries airballed 3 shots and missed a wide open dunk, he was still 6-12 from the field and 5-5 from the line. It appears that Humphries will be a contributor to this team in the final weeks of the season after all.
C.J. Watson: A-
Although Watson didn’t start tonight, he did play lots of important minutes in the fourth quarter, and played well. He was 3-4 from the field and 7-7 from the foul line and was the Nets’ biggest source of offense at the start of the fourth quarter. Watson might have the best spot up shot out of anybody on this roster. If he is open for 3 or for a long 2, it always seems to fall for Watson. He also knocked down 2 important free throws in the last 20 seconds of the game.
The Nets will continue their circus road trip on Wednesday night in Portland. Hopefully Joe Johnson will be back for that game because they will need him. FRWD will have full coverage.