The Brooklyn Nets are officially back! The Nets won their 5th game in a row Friday night, defeating the defending champion Miami Heat 104-95 in 2 overtimes. Joe Johnson led the Nets in scoring with 32 points, but the MVP of the game goes to Shaun Livingston, who had 19 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 blocks. Lebron James scored 36 points for the Heat, but he fouled out in the first overtime, the first time he has fouled out in a regular season game since joining Miami.
The Nets got off to a hot start tonight thanks to Joe Johnson, who was on fire in the first quarter, scoring 22 points on 9-10 shooting. However, Lebron James was keeping Miami in the game. The Nets played excellent defense in the second and third quarters, holding the Heat to only 32 points total and had a nice lead heading into the fourth. But that’s when Lebron James started playing angry and got Miami back into the game. At the end of regulation, Paul Pierce missed a 3 and the game went into overtime. At the end of the first overtime, Norris Cole hit a shot with 3.3 seconds left to send the game to a second overtime, where the Nets were able to easily pull away with Lebron having fouled out already.
We knew that the Nets were playing much better during the 4 previous wins, but this game could be the most impressive one yet. They showed incredible teamwork and intensity, especially considering that Deron Williams did not play. Sure, Dwyane Wade was also out for Miami, but Williams means more to the Nets than Wade means to the Heat.
Also of note, this is the first game in NBA history where all the players were wearing nickname jerseys. This game was so fun that they should do it again soon!
Player grades and notes:
Kevin Garnett: A-
Garnett showed that he is not quite dead yet tonight, having his first double-double in a long time and also playing a season high 36 minutes, but they needed them all in this game. He hit most of his jump shots, rebounded very well, and shut down Chris Bosh.
Paul Pierce: B+
Pierce had his moments tonight, but the airball 3 at the end of the first overtime was rough, especially because the Nets still had 2 timeouts. He also missed a 3 at the end of regulation, but that went in-and-out. Pierce showed a lot of passion tonight and it seemed like he treated this like a playoff game.
Shaun Livingston: A+ (or higher)
Couldn’t have asked for anything more from Shaun Livingston. This was one of the most impressive games for a point guard in NBA history as not only did Livingston have 19 points and 5 assists, but he also had 11 rebounds and 3 huge blocks. He was everywhere tonight on both offense and defense. I wonder if Jason Kidd will give him the night off tomorrow.
Joe Johnson: B+
Joe Johnson came out on fire tonight, scoring 22 points in the first quarter. However, he cooled off considerably after that, finishing with only 32. He disappeared for large stretches in the game, but came back in crunch time to hit a few shots.
Andrei Kirilenko: B+
Kirilenko played limited minutes tonight and only scored 1 point, but his defense on Lebron James was a game-changer. Lebron still had a good offensive game, but he could have had 50 if not for Kirilenko.
Unfortunately, the Nets will be on the road tomorrow night in Toronto, so they may be a little bit tired for that important game. FRWD will have full coverage.