In Jason Collins’s first game back with the team that drafted him, the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 108-102 Sunday night. Collins suited up and actually played for the first time since last April after the Nets officially signed him this morning. Deron Williams led the Nets with 30 points, 7 assists, and 6 steals, one of his best games of the season. Paul Pierce scored 25. Pau Gasol led the Lakers with 22.
The Nets’ offense looked great in the first half tonight, which is pretty impressive on the second night of a back-to-back, even if it is against one of the worst defenses in the league. Paul Pierce led the charge with 14 first quarter points. However, the Lakers hung around for the rest of the game and were even within 4 points of Brooklyn late in the fourth quarter, but were never able to get over the hump.
Even though the Lakers are not a good team at all, this was a pretty good win for Brooklyn, who was without Kevin Garnett, Marcus Thornton, and Shaun Livingston, and was playing for the second time in two nights. They are now 2-1 following the all-star break and are back in 6th place in the conference.
Player grades and notes:
Andrei Kirilenko: A-
Kirilenko got his first start of the season and responded with a double-double, to go along with 3 assists and 4 steals. He did all the little things again tonight and saved the Nets a ton of possessions. He led the team in both offensive and defensive rebounds and made some nice passes too. I still wish his free throw shooting was better, but overall he played very well.
Paul Pierce: B+
Pierce got off to a great start in the first quarter and had 18 points at halftime, but didn’t do much after that. He finished with 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Deron Williams: A
This was one of Deron Williams’s best games of the season. Of course, the Lakers have one of the worst defenses in the league and that might have contributed to making him look good, but he finally looked healthy tonight. He finished with 30 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, and 6 steals. The last Net to do that? Jason Kidd.
Joe Johnson: B
The Lakers seemed to focus their defensive efforts on not letting Joe get open looks tonight, and therefore he became more of a passer finishing with 8 assists to go along with just 10 points. Some of the passes were beautiful, including one in the second to half to Alan Anderson for a wide open 3.
Mirza Teletovic: C+
Mirza’s defense is a serious problem against bigger players like Jordan Hill, and that showed tonight. Offensively, he made a pair of huge 3’s at the end of the third quarter to allow the Nets to open up a 12-point lead.
Andray Blatche: D-
Blatche was horrible tonight and gave Jason Kidd a reason to plays Collins over him. In 20 minutes, he was 2-10 from the field and some of the misses were really ugly. His defense was also awful, no matter who he guarded.
Jason Collins: A+
Collins did not score, but his impact was clearly felt tonight. In 11 minutes, he was a +8, which is excellent. He also had 5 fouls, which is part of his job. He set some really nice screens and had a couple of good rebounds, including a tip-out after a missed free throw that led to a Pierce 3. That’s pretty good for a guy who hasn’t played competitive basketball in 10 months.
The Nets have a couple of days off now and will continue their road trip in Portland on Wednesday night. FRWD will have full coverage of that game.