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Here’s a roundup of last night’s Nets festivities.
What happened: The Nets led the entire second half and nearly wire-to-wire en route to a 114-98 blowout victory over the Boston Celtics at home, their 11th straight win at Barclays Center.
Where they stand: The win pushes the Nets to 36-31; coupled with lossed by the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors, the Nets now sit just one game back from the Bulls for the fourth seed in the playoffs and 1.5 behind the Raptors for the division lead. Either would ensure them home-court advantage in the first round.
That Was… A slow affair in the first half that turned quickly in the third quarter, behind Joe Johnson’s offensive heroics and Mason Plumlee’s deep and burning desire to dunk on all human beings in sight with green on.
The Nets pounded the ball inside early, scoring 20 of their 34 first-quarter points in the paint and 62 overall against a depleted Celtics frontline that featured former Nets forward Kris Humphries at center and rookie Kelly Olynyk (who fouled out in 16 minutes) backing him up.
Tonight transitioned from a fun stretch in the third quarter to keep-away in the fourth, when the Nets slowed the pace to a crawl and kept Boston from making any plays that would help them claw back.
Johnson finished the game with a team-high 27 points, scoring 16 in the third quarter alone, and finishing 10-16 from the field (6-8 from 3).
This is exactly the type of game the Nets need to play at home, and it turned into another solid home victory.
Game Grades: Read ’em here.
Mason Plumlee Dunking Over Someone With His Left Hand:
Mason Plumlee Dunking Over Someone With His Right Hand:
Plumlee had an excellent all-around game, finishing with 18 points, five rebounds, three assists, and three steals, shooting 6-7 in 21 minutes. His shot chart is pictured below. Think you can guess where he likes to shoot?
Brooklyn Blue Nights: The Nets celebrated “Brooklyn Blue Nights” Friday, which in corporate speak roughly translates to “we have no way of legally using the Brooklyn Dodgers trademark, so let’s honor Brooklyn’s sports history in any way possible without getting sued.”
The team donned blue-and-gray sleeved jerseys, with Brooklyn’s Backcourt of Williams and Livingston adding blue shoes to the mix.
Kinged: Billy King spoke with the media before Friday night’s game, giving a surprise update on Brook Lopez and revealing his top offseason priority. King’s alma mater Duke, a third seed in the NCAA Tournament, lost in a major upset to fourteenth-seeded Mercer earlier that day.
Numbers aside: Deron Williams didn’t extend his streak of 25-plus points to three games. Nor did he even come close, as he finished with just six points in 25 minutes. But I thought Williams played an excellent offensive game nonetheless. The Nets kept the floor spaced, Williams’s few shots were good ones, and the Nets ended their possessions with good shots with him on the floor. He didn’t need to take over tonight, and it worked.
Mason Plumlee Can Dunk On His Own Face:
This is the first dunk from above — Mason Plumlee damn near went and dunked on everybody against the Celtics, most impressively over Kris Humphries in the first half with his left hand. Humphries inadvertently smacked Plumlee across the nose with an arm, but it didn’t keep Plumlee from putting down the flush.
On the offensive: The Nets dropped 114 points in a relatively slow game, shooting 56.4 percent from the field, hitting 9 of 17 three-pointers, and committing just 11 turnovers. They finished the third quarter with 92 points, just five fewer than the Nets averaged per game in their first 31 games.
It’s not entirely clear what made the bench erupt in laughter with Andray Blatche as its foil. Maybe it was because Blatche said something, maybe it was because he blocked the shot after Mirza Teletovic’s obvious foul. But when it comes to Andray Blatche, is anything ever clear?
Movement: The Nets topped 30 assists, with 11 different players recording at least one. It’s the fourth time they’ve topped 30 assists this season. Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston each had six to lead the team.
“When we run our offense, move the ball, make the extra pass, play unselfishly, and not care who gets all the credit or who gets all the shots, that’s what it looks like,” Paul Pierce said after the game. “Every game, it makes us even more unpredictable, because night in and night out you don’t know who’s going to be our leading scorer when we share the ball like that.”
Third Quarter: Brooklyn’s third-quarter woes are a distant memory; they don’t fall back on early-possession isolations or low-percentage shots anymore. The ball whips around as usual, the Nets find mismatches where they can, and if they can’t get to one of their first options, they allow their playmakers to make plays. It’s a stark contrast to the Nets of old, and a welcome change.
Potentially useless information: Andrei Kirilenko had the team’s fastest average speed, at 4.3 miles per hour throughout the game. Joe Johnson ran the most, hitting the two-mile mark. Jason Collins (average speed of 3.5 miles per hour) was faster than Paul Pierce (3.4).
Jorge Gutierrez: is earning another contract.
Across the river: The New York Knicks barely defeated the tank-so-hard Philadelphia 76ers, winning 93-92 in Philadelphia. Amar’e Stoudemire led New York with 22 points.
Next up: The Nets travel to Dallas tomorrow to take on the Dallas Mavericks Sunday. It’s their first game in a brutal three-game, four-day road stretch, taking on the Mavericks Sunday, New Orleans Pelicans Monday, and Charlotte Bobcats Wednesday. Kevin Garnett will not make the trip with the team.