In one of the biggest games of the season, the Brooklyn Nets thoroughly defeated the Chicago Bulls 96-80 Monday night in Brooklyn. It was the Nets’ first home game since before the all-star break and it couldn’t have went much better against a team that they are chasing. Even without Kevin Garnett playing, the Nets’ defense had one of its best games all season. Brooklyn was led by 20 points from Deron Williams, while Joe Johnson contributed 19. DJ Augustin scored 16 for Chicago.
The Nets might have had their best defensive quarter of the year in the first quarter tonight. They were forcing turnovers and bad shots, and were converting those into points at the other end. But Chicago, as they always do, was able to hang around in the game and cut Brooklyn’s lead to just 9 early in the fourth quarter. When the starters returned, the Nets took over the game and won by nearly 20 points.
This was a big, big win against a team who has had the Nets’ number going back to last season. With Kevin Garnett out with back spasms, many people thought the Nets wouldn’t be able to contain Joakim Noah, who had a triple-double yesterday, but the defense really stepped up and delivered. The Nets seem to be getting hot at just the right time, as we are now entering the final stretch of the regular season. Chicago and Toronto are still within sight for the Brooklyn Nets.
Player grades and notes:
Mason Plumlee: B
The best thing about this game for Plumlee? He only had 1 foul in 22 minutes. That is a big improvement on what we’ve seen recently. He did a good job defending without fouling and even had a big block on Joakim Noah. Offensively, he didn’t do very much, but that’s not why the Nets drafted him.
Paul Pierce: B+
Pierce had a very solid game. He was excellent defensively with 4 steals and a block and hit timely shots offensively. He was a big part of the Nets’ third quarter run and he stopped the bleeding when he checked back into the game in the fourth quarter.
Shaun Livingston: A-
Livingston was in foul trouble all game long, but he was able to play through it and actually put together a really nice game. As we’ve seen from him recently, he was able to get into the paint to hit layups and dunks and also draw fouls. His length also bothered Chicago’s offense and he had 5 steals. He could be a nightmare matchup for Chicago if these teams meet in the playoffs.
Deron Williams: A-
The real D-Will finally showed up in the second half tonight. He showed his killer instinct with big shots in the fourth quarter that prevented Chicago’s hopes of coming back. He was also able to get to the foul line at will and his defense was great. He bailed out the Nets on defense a couple of times in the second half.
Joe Johnson: B+
Nothing to see here, just a quiet 19 points on efficient shooting for Joe Johnson. This was his best game in a while and I really hope that he’s healthy, because the Nets will need a healthy Joe Johnson in the playoffs.
Andray Blatche: A-
Blatche had his third straight good game tonight, all of those resulting in Brooklyn victories. His shot wasn’t falling, but he made 3 excellent passes in the second half and those 3 assists were 2 more than Joakim Noah had all game. Defensively, he was also good, which surprised me. After Noah looked so good on offense yesterday against Manhattan, Blatche shut him down tonight.
The Nets will look to get over .500 for the first time this season on Wednesday night when they host the Memphis Grizzlies. FRWD will have full coverage of the game.