It was closer than they wanted, but the Brooklyn Nets finally won a game, defeating the Toronto Raptors 102-100 Monday night in Canada. The Nets held a 15-point lead with just over 3 minutes remaining before allowing the Raptors to close the game on a huge run. Toronto missed a contested 3 at the buzzer that would have won them the game. The Nets were led by 24 points from Andray Blatche, while Joe Johnson scored 21. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry combined for 51 for Toronto.
The first half tonight was similar to some first halves we have seen this year. The Nets did not play especially well, but were hanging around and led by 4 at halftime. The 3-ball kept Toronto in the game. They made nine 3′s by halftime. In contrast to the Nets’ last game, they were dominating in the paint, led by Andray Blatche. The third quarter has been the dreaded quarter for Brooklyn this year but tonight they finally won the quarter! They won it by 1 point, but that was enough. The Nets have now won every game when they win the third quarter and lost every game where they lost the third quarter. In the fourth, the Nets did not blow the lead and led by as many as 15 points. Andray Blatche and Tyshawn Taylor were a big part of that. However, this was much closer than it should have been. The Nets allowed Toronto to go on a 14-1 run to end the game. Amir Johnson missed a 3 at the buzzer that would have won it for Toronto.
This was a bad way to win a game, but at this point, the Nets have to take a win any way they can get it. This snapped a loooong losing streak and with this road win, they are somehow only 2 games out of first place in the Atlantic Division. Even though the Nets have been a terrible team this year, they are still very much alive in the playoff race.
Player grades and notes:
Kevin Garnett: B
Kevin Garnett doesn’t get an F! He was actually pretty good tonight, even on defense, and he actually scored in the second half, which has been rare this year. He was 5-10 from the field for 12 points, not bad at all. He also did a great job of keeping Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas in check.
Paul Pierce: B
Pierce also had a pretty good game. He had a couple of really big 3-point plays in the game and he shot over 50% from the field. 4 assists and 4 rebounds also help.
Andray Blatche: A-
‘Dray was pretty great tonight. He made very few very dumb plays, committing only 2 turnovers and shooting 10-15 from the field. He also had a couple of big offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter. And he was even good on defense, coming up with a pair of steals and blocks and doing a good job of pressuring the Raptors on defense. He doesn’t get an A because of how he played at the end of the game. He stopped attacking the basket in the last 3 minutes of the game, forcing the Nets into bad turnovers.
Shaun Livingston: C+
Livingston did not do much tonight in terms of attacking the basket and trying to score, but he did have 6 rebounds and 7 assists in the game. He was not in when the Nets were making their big run at the start of the fourth quarter, but he returned to see the Nets nearly blow the lead in the end.
Joe Johnson: B+
I don’t mind Joe Johnson taking 18 shots with all the injuries the Nets have. He is their best offensive weapon right now, and they used him to score 21 points. He also had 6 rebounds and 4 assists, which shows he was very involved.
Mason Plumlee: A-
Plumlee has shown a great basketball IQ for a rookie. He never takes any bad shots. Today, all 5 of his shots were right at the rim and 3 of them were easy dunks including one alley-oop from Paul Pierce. What he needs to do now is work on his defense without fouling and then possibly developing a better jump shot.
Tyshawn Taylor: B+
Taylor was surprisingly good today. He had 2 dunks, probably his first 2 of the season, and finished with 9 points and 4 assists with only 1 turnover in 19 minutes. He was in the game when the Nets were playing well in the fourth quarter. What he needs to do now is be consistent from one game to the next.
The Nets will be back in action tomorrow night when they host the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant will not play in the game. FRWD will have full coverage.