Joe Johnson does it AGAIN. Johnson hit a floater in the paint as the overtime buzzer sounded Friday night as the Brooklyn Nets got their first road win of the season over the Phoenix Suns, 100-98. The Nets are now 3-5 on the season while the Suns after 5-4 and 4-1 at home. The Nets were led by Brook Lopez’s 27 points and 7 rebounds while Shaun Livingston also had a great game after replacing the injured Deron Williams. Goran Dragic had 19 for Phoenix.
Before we get further into this game, the biggest story could be Deron Williams’s injury. He went down grabbing his ankle midway through the first quarter and this injury looked worse than some of his ankle injuries in the past. We still haven’t heard how much time he will miss, but it is certainly doubtful he will be able to go tomorrow night. We will have more on this when more information comes out.
Back to the game, the Nets again looked lethargic in the first half before ending the second quarter on a nice run to cut Phoenix’s lead to just 4. And then in the third quarter they came out firing, opening the quarter on a 16-0 run. Phoenix did not score for the first 7 minutes of the quarter and the Nets had a 12-point lead. However, like we have seen already this season, the Nets let their lead slip away and the Suns were right back in the game in the fourth quarter. The teams traded the lead back-and-forth, but after a non-call on what could have been a Pierce buzzer beater from halfcourt, the game went into overtime. The Nets won the game on a broken play. The Suns had the ball with 30 seconds left and took a shot as the shot clock was expiring. The rebound was up for grabs when Joe Johnson grabbed it and ran the other way for a fast break buzzer beater. It could have caught Phoenix by surprise, because the Nets could have called a timeout but instead decided to let Joe do it himself. Luckily, it worked out.
Player grades and notes:
Paul Pierce: B-
Pierce had a pretty average game with 14 points and 4 rebounds. He did play a lot of minutes though at 41, so it will be interesting to see if this effects him tomorrow night. He made surprisingly few shots down the stretch in the 4th quarter and overtime.
Kevin Garnett: B-
Still nothing offensively, but at least KG had a season high of 14 rebounds, including some important ones in crunch time. His defense was also much better than it had been in previous games.
Brook Lopez: A-
Excellent second half from Lopez tonight. He had 25 of his 27 points in the second half and overtime to go along with 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. He is becoming a serious defensive presence and is probably Brooklyn’s best defensive player, which is pretty unbelievable after how he played on defense last year. The reason he doesn’t get an A is because he was invisible in the first half.
Shaun Livingston: A
The Nets’ best bench player came up big again tonight. After Deron Williams’ injury in the first quarter, Livingston went on to play 37 minutes and he had 18 points and 6 assists. Although nobody would want Deron to miss significant time, if he does miss some games, I think the Nets are in good hands with Livingston. The question would be how it effects the bench.
Joe Johnson: A+
Johnson had far from a good game and only shot 6-19 from the field, but the buzzer beater always earns him an A+. He led the Nets in minutes tonight with 45 and was invisible for most of that time, but the broken play leading to the floater in the paint at the buzzer was all that mattered.
Rest of the bench: D
The bench was supposed to be a strength of this team. It has not been at all early this season. Jason Terry and Andray Blatche were again both horrible. Mason Plumlee was the lone bright spot, but even he had 5 fouls in only 13 minutes against his brother’s team.
The Nets will finish up their short road trip tomorrow night in L.A. against the Clippers. If they win that game, they will finish the trip at 2-1, but Brooklyn will definitely be big underdogs heading to southern California.