The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

With a coma's intensity, the Brooklyn Nets attacked the New York Knicks head-on in the battle of who could care less and won just emphatically in that department. They shot shots that didn't matter. They barely attacked the basket. They let Andray Blatche do enough silly things to commit six turnovers. They allowed a bunch of dunks and three-pointers by their cross-town rival, whose season ends tomorrow. They were just awful for the better part of 48 minutes, changing nothing.

The Nets will still either be the fifth or sixth seed, and they'll still either play the Bulls or Raptors. We'll know exactly which tomorrow. But this game was a crash-course in indifference.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

"Hey, who threw this car in reverse? And why's it on cruise control?"

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

Fine, I guess. That's all I got.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

Want to get this out of the way now: the Iman Shumpert crossover that knocked Pierce over looked way worse in real time than it did on the replay. Pierce stepped on Shumpert's foot, which caused him to lose his balance.

Other than that, thought he didn't sleepwalk as much as the rest of the team, though he definitely dozed through a few possessions.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

If tonight was his chance to solidify playoff minutes, Andray Blatche is not going to play playoff minutes.

Andrei Kirilenko SMALL FORWARD

Played in the starting lineup for the third straight game with Shaun Livingston out, and he is so so sneaky. He snuck his way in front of two plays in the first quarter, hitting the floor for one steal and picking off a baseline pass for another. He snuck this beautiful no-look pass to Mason Plumlee in the first half. He moves like one of those inflatable tube men outside of a car dealership.

Marcus Thornton SHOOTING GUARD

Really wanted him to shoot, like, 50 times in this game. But I'll take him firing with reckless abandon either way. But his on-ball defense is not pretty.

Mason Plumlee CENTER

There's something endearing about the fact that Mason Plumlee just keeps dunking and dunking and dunking, no matter how bad or irrelevant a game gets. He's no KG on the defensive end, but he's made strides.


 


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

Other than the bench messing with a decent lead in the fourth quarter, requiring Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams, and Joe Johnson to return to the lineup, the Nets mostly cruised their way to this victory behind their three-point shooting and -- get this -- second-chance points, turning 14 offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance points.

Behind some hot shooting from Williams, Johnson, and Mirza Teletovic, and an engaging effort from Mason Plumlee, the Nets pulled this one off.

Not that there was much doubt, but the win also basically guarantees them the fifth seed, where they'll play either Chicago or Toronto.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

Requisite filthy crossover on a couple of occasions, one sick pass to Joe Johnson for a corner three-pointer, four steals to extend his streak to 29 games, and a barrage of three-pointers of his own before resting the fourth quarter.

I see a lot of comments about when Williams "used to be good" on Twitter. He still is. He's not as good as he once was, but he's still an excellent playmaker who can shoot and create off the dribble. His mistakes get magnified because of his status, but he's still very good.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

He takes the worst shots that I love to watch.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

Hope his shoulder's okay.

Kevin Garnett CENTER

Played another short stint well; early turnovers aside, Garnett brought his usual intensity. Scary moment in the first half when he fell on his back after a misguided block attempt, but he returned without incident. Also tried yelling in a shot, because he is Kevin Garnett.

Brook Lopez CENTER

Came onto the court shortly before tipoff to thank the fans for their support this season. Miss U, Brook.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

Returned to the rotation in the first half after missing two games with an illness and a third with a DNP-CD (his first in his Nets history) and immediately tried running point guard. Never change, you beautifully absurd creature of the Nets.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

Mason Plumlee CENTER

Look, I know he's not going to win Rookie of the Year. (Please don't stop reading there.) But no other rookie is having as positive an impact on a good team this season as Mason Plumlee. Every other rookie getting major minutes has it because of circumstance; the team's bad and they want to showcase their rookie. Plumlee's the opposite: the team wanted to stash him in the D-League where he could get minutes, and he played his way into the rotation and cemented a spot.

Plumlee's legitimately good. He's 24, and may not get much better than he is today, but he knows what he can do and he's executing.


 


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

It's hard to judge the Nets on this game: Deron Williams, Shaun Livingston, and Alan Anderson all sat, Andray Blatche was active but didn't play, the Nets had a weird incentive to lose if they care about the borough battle, and they relied mostly on Marcus Thornton and Mirza Teletovic to carry them through the fourth quarter, which is the basketball equivalent of throwing darts blindfolded at a board with numbers 3 and 0 on it.

If they won, they'd win, which is good. If they lost, they'd remain the fifth seed and put a damper in New York's playoff chances, which is good. They played listless early (outside of Mason Plumlee), got Paul Pierce an historic milestone, allowed Jorge Gutierrez to shine in a featured role, and helped put another nail in New York's coffin. What's wrong with that?

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

Struggled throughout but few rival his short floater off the backboard.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

Paul Pierce missed a shot and two free throws near the end of this game because if the Hawks win it put a damper in the Knicks playoff chances. That's absolutely what happened and you can't convince me of anything otherwise. Paul Pierce hates the Knicks so much he would mess with the sanctity of an NBA game in which he scored his 25,000th career point. I love this game so much.

Sure, they didn't care about this game, but if you score your 25,000th career point, you should get an historical A+. Congrats on an awesome career, Paul Pierce.

Kevin Garnett CENTER

Ended his night with a double-technical on him and Elton Brand, which might be the oldest technical foul in NBA history. Looks like the Kevin Garnett the Nets want in the playoffs for 25 minutes. Can he do it?

Andrei Kirilenko SMALL FORWARD

Enough antics to embarrass Pero Antic. Love his court vision still, and connected with Mirza Teletovic on one pretty alley-oop.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

Hit the glass hard for a stretch in the fourth quarter and hit two threes to keep his streak of 3+ three-pointers against the Hawks alive.

Mason Plumlee CENTER

Played with a ton of energy in a game and in moments where it seemed the Nets didn't have any at all.

Jorge Gutierrez POINT GUARD

If the Nets wanted to lose tonight to help eliminate the Knicks from playoff contention, no one told Jorge Gutierrez, who opened the game with a steal and transition layup, hit another floater in the first quarter, managed the game well, drew what should have been ruled a charge on Jeff Teague with under two minutes left, and looked like he belonged on an NBA floor. What more can you ask for?

Marquis Teague POINT GUARD

Hit a layup and only got embarrassed by his older brother on one crossover, which is fine, I guess.


 


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

The Nets put up a listless first half defensively, letting E'Twaun Moore go off in the second quarter and taking bad or easy shots early in the shot clock.

The Nets clawed back in in the third quarter, thanks to some hot shooting from Mirza Teletovic and game management from Joe Johnson, and had a chance to put it away in the fourth behind Joe Johnson's heroics, but it wasn't enough as Kyle O'Quinn blocked a Joe Johnson three-pointer and the Magic hit their free throws down the stretch.

Given the effort in the first half, they didn't really deserve to win this game, but considering how close they made it, this one still stings.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

Kept his steal streak going and played like he needs rest.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

I love that even on the second night of a back-to-back when everyone on the Nets is playing like they've been awake celebrating since they beat the Heat Tuesday night, Joe Johnson is still his usual, boring, solid scoring self with an incredible knack for scoring in crunch time.

Only had one real brain fart: at the end of the third quarter with the ball and the shot clock off, Johnson fired a shot with over eight seconds left, giving the Magic a chance to race downcourt and fire up a shot. E-Twaun Moore buried the three, putting the Magic up 5 before the fourth quarter.

But Johnson took the reins of the offense down the stretch, and delivered on three occasions: a tough floater to bring the Nets within two and two shots in the paint to cut the lead to one in crunch time, but was blocked by Kyle O'Quinn on a three-point attempt that would have tied the game.

Kevin Garnett CENTER

Good stints -- got his first bucket by following a Deron Williams missed layup, and played his role as the offensive fulcrum out of the high post by hitting cutters and spread-out shooters en route to a season-high six assists. Looked spry, though not 100%.

Alan Anderson SHOOTING GUARD

He drove baseline every time and the Magic still couldn't stop him.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

Despite shooting six three-pointers in the game's first six minutes (and a seventh that he shot just after accidentally stepping out of bounds), he didn't attempt one for the rest of the half and fell short of J.R. Smith's new NBA record set on Sunday of 22 attempts in a game. His third quarter shooting (four three-pointers) kept them within striking distance, and he drew a foul on Maurice Harkless with seconds left to keep the Nets alive. But he missed a crucial free throw, which helped put the nail in the coffin.

Marcus Thornton SHOOTING GUARD

E'Twaun Moore's 14-point explosion in the second half, the one that put the Magic up that gave them a double-digit halftime lead, was largely on Thornton's head, and Mo Harkless beat him backdoor on a key crunch-time play. He's a nice thief, but his on-ball defense tonight wasn't up to snuff.

Mason Plumlee CENTER

Lots of rim-rattling dunks, including a throw-in throw-down, and even showed off some unprecedented dribble-drive moves, but fouled out in the fourth quarter in what's a recurring theme for his high playing time. With Jason Collins not getting playing time and Garnett at the end of his minutes limit, the Nets played the end of the game without a true center, leaving Kyle O'Quinn to get all the rebounds he wanted.

One day he'll hit a shot from outside of the paint. It just may not be this season.


 


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

They did it again. For the first time in the history of the Big 3 era, the Miami Heat were swept in a four-game regular season series.

And somehow, it didn't feel like it would happen. The Nets just seemed a little... off. Passes were caught, but after flying awry. Shots were contested, but a split-second late. The Nets hit just enough bad shots to stay alive. Rebounds bounced off hands. This wasn't an emphatic victory by a strong team, but an incredible run by unlikely heroes. Shaun Livingston's heroics in the last game led to Mason Plumlee's here.

The Nets will likely be the fifth seed and the Heat the first seed. Let's just say a second-round matchup between these two teams is in the cards... And let's hope for it.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

Committed a costly, embarrassing turnover to end the first half and threw away another in the third quarter. Didn't attack the basket well and his passes weren't crisp. Missed two crucial free throws near the end. Other than one sweet pass to Mason Plumlee, a forgettable one tonight.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

Nice slam in the first quarter but didn't create as much out of the post as you'd imagine outside of hone hook shot in the third and looked a bit nervous throughout.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

He is so smooth. Goddamn, is he smooth. Hit shots easily in the first half in midrange and out of the post, and then hit a ridiculously tough floater over LeBron James to keep the lead alive.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

After a quiet first half, Pierce came out firing to start the second. hitting two quick buckets and blocking a shot in the first two minutes, before getting hit with two dubious foul calls to give him four, send him to the bench, and enrage him enough to get a technical foul.

Andrei Kirilenko SMALL FORWARD

More spastic than special tonight: had a few moments of defensive ingenuity, but otherwise didn't look in sync.

Alan Anderson SHOOTING GUARD

His drives to the basket went nowhere until back-to-back layups in the fourth quarter. You always appreciate a wing player willing to sacrifice his body with impunity.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

He loves playing the Heat, and you can tell.

Marcus Thornton SHOOTING GUARD

Sacramento did not warn me how instinctual he'd be defensively. He picked off a couple of easy steals in the first half and rewarded himself with shot attempts. Big threes down the stretch. How did the Nets get him for Evans and Terry again?

Mason Plumlee CENTER

1) DUNK ON BRON
2) PUT IN GAME-SAVING LAYUP
3) SWAT BRON
4) EARN A+
5) EARN ADORATION
6) ...
7) SELL ALL THE T-SHIRTS


 


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

The Nets escaped on the skin of their free throws when they should've rested the whole fourth. Brooklyn spent entirely too much of the second half "holding off" Philadelphia, instead of "blowing out" Philadelphia.

The 76ers are an awful basketball team, and the Nets handed them their 60th loss of the season, but a 21-point lead dissipated over the course of third- and fourth-quarter minutes to as little as three points, and the Nets vaunted bench could only just keep the 76ers at bay.

A win means you can't fail, but the Nets almost failed themselves with their fourth-quarter performance.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

When everyone is scoring, it's usually a testament to how Williams is facilitating: he had an excellent all-around game against the hapless 76ers, scoring inside and setting up teammates for easy buckets. By on-court and off-court player ratings, the Nets are worst with Williams off the floor, and best with Williams on it. That doesn't excuse his role in much of the team's fourth-quarter collapse, but he did hit a four-point play and two key free throws in crunch time to help seal the win.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

Quiet, distributory, still unstoppable from inside nine feet. Some shoddy crunch-time play, including two missed free throws at a key moment, bring his grade down. But backboards need not apply for disruption.

One note: while it's true that Deron Williams plays far better with Livingston on the floor with him than Livingston on the bench, the same is true the other way: they're best when they can share the creative duties.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

Quiet game from Johnson, but the Nets didn't play their starters much in the second half.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

Loved the way he attacked and spread the ball around, but not an incredibly impactful game.

Kevin Garnett CENTER

Welcome back, KG. Had a solid first stint, hitting his first four shots, including a rim-rattling dunk near the end of the first half. Though the standard caveat applies -- they were playing the awful Philadelphia 76ers -- he didn't appear to have any rust despite missing the last 19 games. If the Nets can get that KG in the playoffs for 25 minutes a game, that'll make a huge difference.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

Andray Blatche has spent 10,000 hours taking ballet with a matador.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

You really, really don't like when a player shoots an airball in crunch time. He really, really makes up for it by burying a shot from the exact same spot without any hesitation on the next play.

Marcus Thornton SHOOTING GUARD

Still impressed by how well he fits in defensively after his reputation as a poor defender in Sacramento, and he did hit four free throws down the stretch to help seal the game. But a shooter's conscience isn't always a good thing.

Mason Plumlee CENTER

Dunks&
Dunks&
Dunks&
Dunks&
Dunks&
Dunks.

Had his issues defensively, one day he'll do something else offensively, and one day he'll figure out how to limit his fouls. But every one of his made field goals was the easiest way to put the ball in the basket. Hard to complain about that.


 


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

The Pistons are bad, and the Nets took advantage of that with a good combination of three-pointers, post-ups, and drives to the basket. They defended well, staying home on the pick-and-roll and switching at the right moments, and other than some athletic dunks and a continuation of their year-long rebounding issues, the Nets closed this one out strong.

15 straight at home now.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

Put up some solid minutes after a rough start that featured two badly missed layups (one an open layup, one a blocked shot tossed into Kyle Singler's arm), distributing the ball well and extending his league-best streak of games with at least one steal to 25.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

This might be proximity bias, because I've watched every minute Livingston's played this season, but everything he can do is evident now. The Nets starters play far better when he's on the floor. He's one of the best post scorers for a guard in the league. He can get his eight-foot jumper off over almost anybody. His assist numbers underrate his passing ability. He bounces off the floor en route to the rim.

Please, no one else in the NBA notice.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

Hit a few shots in rhythm in the first half and they didn't really need him after that.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

Foul trouble aside, a nice lefty dunk, two-hand dunk, and semi-dagger three-pointer in the fourth.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

I WANT THE NEWS, NOT THE WEATHER. MORE LIKE BACON FAT. TIME TO YELLOW SUBMARINE ALL OVER YOUR FACE? DOES THIS GAME GRADE MAKE NO SENSE? NEITHER DOES YOUNG SEYMOUR DEFENDING LIKE YI'S CHAIR, CROSSING OVER LIKE JAMAL CRAWFORD AND HITTING STEP-BACK JUMPERS ON HIS WAY TO THE PHILIPPINES PRACTICE FACILITY.

Blatche Cross New

DON'T TELL ME THINGS GOTTA MAKE SENSE IN BLATCHELAND.

Andrei Kirilenko SMALL FORWARD

Returned to the floor for the first time since spraining his left ankle on March 23rd, and made an immediate impact. He picked up two quick steals, the second he anticipated before the Pistons even knew they were going to make the pass. It was quietly incredible.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

The Nets just kept running pick-and-pops with him on the floor and he just kept burying three-pointers. Teams tend to gameplan more in the playoffs, but they might also place too much attention on the stars, which would leave role players like Teletovic open. This game stands as a reminder: he's dangerous if he's open, and if he can make his shots in big moments, he could swing some playoff games.

Jason Collins CENTER

TWIN, SCORER. As many points as Greg Monroe and a decent job on Andre Drummond? I'll take that from the last player on the bench any day.

Mason Plumlee CENTER

Quick foul trouble for Plumlee kept him out of most of this game, but contributions from Blatche and Collins meant they didn't miss him much. But the way he's played brings up an interesting question: when Kevin Garnett returns, does he usurp Andray Blatche's spot in the rotation?


 


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

Give him credit for hitting shots, but the Nets didn't run any semblance of their usual offense with him at the helm in the first half. Williams looked all sorts of tentative, frittering into the lane before backing right out, dribbling around and looking for plays that led nowhere on too many occasions.

Williams finished without an assist for the second time this season and the second time EVER since he became a full-time point guard after his rookie season.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

Hit a couple of short jumpers but not nearly as disruptive as usual and got caught behind a few too many screens against a team that can beat you with three-pointers.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

Had another stretch of scoring in many different ways that bridged the second and third quarter, but his most memorable play might be telegraphing a pass from out-f-bounds to Paul Pierce so badly that J.R. Smith stole it with ease.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

For a guy who loves Madison Square Garden so much he sure let it shine.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

Blatche gets an A+ for his performance of the first two acts of his final project for interpretive dance class "Blatchepedaling," a tragic tale of a man meant to initiate contact and defend against opponent attacks, but instead stuck in a world with invisible barriers between himself and humanity's touch.

Marcus Thornton SHOOTING GUARD

Shoots a lot, which is cool when you a) make shots, b) can do other things, or c) have other guys on your team doing other things. None of these things were true.

Mason Plumlee CENTER

To be fair, I think that alley-oop he put down in the third was the highest I've ever seen him jump. That was an incredible flush. So that was nice. It was also his only shot attempt.


 


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

On an April Fool's Day, the Nets snapped one 14-game streak, continued another streak to 14 games, and clinched a playoff spot for the second straight year.

The Nets played what hopefully is their usual brand of basketball: move the ball, limit turnovers, exploit mismatches, find open shots, and don't worry who gets the numbers, as long as they come. The Nets struggled at times to defend James Harden -- who got an incredible number of foul calls -- and they allowed Omer Asik to pull down a career-high 23 rebounds, but they contested most of Houston's looks, found Joe Johnson open enough times to extend the lead in the third quarter, and spread the ball enough to keep that lead maintained in the fourth.

This was another solid victory against a plus-.500 team that's going to make waves in the West, even without Dwight Howard. Hard to complain about that one.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

Played a very comfortable, dribble-crossover heavy offense, got free, found teammates, didn't get embarrassed by Jeremy Lin, and only turned it over once. It's not elite Deron Williams, but it's point guard Deron Williams, and that's all they needed tonight.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

Feasted inside early with three quick buckets, including an alley-oop from Mason Plumlee, before foul trouble took him out of the first quarter. Played his poke-and-prod, pull-up-and-facilitate offense, and made few mistakes.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

Quiet burn; dropped 17 points in the first half while nobody noticed. At one point he had 22 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds, and 2 fouls. Fitting that he'd have a 22 2's night with Jay-Z in the house.

What was so phenomenal about his shooting performance was that he didn't play some over-the-top out-of-the-ordinary shooting performance, where Johnson just hit step-back 34-footers with Omer Asik in his face. The Nets tilted Houston's offense from side to side, and Johnson just happened to get open enough times to get a clear look at the basket.

Sniper Joe picked up 30 points before the start of the fourth quarter not by taking over Brooklyn's offense, but by playing within it. That's the type of Johnson Brooklyn needs in the playoffs.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

Very quiet, but nice and rested for tomorrow's game against the Knicks. I hear he likes playing them.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

Solid game from Young Seymour; he couldn't play help defense with an oar in each hand and struggled to rebound over him all night, but attacked the lane well and only took open mid-range shots.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

Gave the Nets some great minutes down the stretch, hitting two threes in the fourth quarter to keep the Nets lead alive and keep Paul Pierce rested on the bench.

Mason Plumlee CENTER

Set a new career-high for assists before the first half was over, so that's cool. Threw a pair of assists for Shaun Livingston dunks, created a few dunk opportunities by running the floor, and other than his (and the team's) inability to keep Omer Asik off the glass, a solid game punctuated by a dunk with under two minutes left.


 


The Brooklyn Nets

An up-and-down, sloppy affair eventually went Brooklyn's way after a quick barrage of shots gave them a fourth-quarter lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Brooklyn had their issues in this game, both defending the paint and keeping Minnesota from leaking out in transition, and this one looked like it was going a bad way when the Timberwolves erased a 13-point Nets lead with a flurry of fast-break buckets. But the Nets fired back behind Joe Johnson and Shaun Livingston, keeping Kevin Love quiet in the second half and

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

Was the recipient of a couple rough foul calls, which limited his time in the third quarter as the Timberwolves made a run and took the lead. Even if his numbers din't pop out at you, the Nets offense stagnates without him, and that's reflected in the team's on-off court numbers. His shot was awful (1-9, to be exact), which brings hm down. But everything outside of his shot was on point.

But if only he hit that half-court shot just before the buzzer in the first quarter.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

Another great, understated game from Livingston. From blocked shots to tipping the ball off opponents to force turnovers to running the pick-and-roll and getting teammates open shots, Livingston has earned his spot in the starting lineup with a deft combination of smart passes and high-flying dunks.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

Hit two big floaters in the paint in the their quarter with the Nets losing their lead and kept firing, hitting his first six shots from inside the paint and putting an exclamation mark on the game with a daggerous three-pointer with 90 seconds left.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

For players to succeed doing the little things, someone needs to do the big ones -- namely, score -- and Pierce did just that. Again. Pierce dropped 16 points in the first quarter after hitting 17 Friday night. It was the first time in Pierce's career that he'd scored 16 or more points in consecutive first quarters. He also limited Kevin Love -- one of the league's best scorers and rebounders -- to an underwhelming night.

His good fortune didn't last; Pierce picked up his third foul with about a minute left in the second quarter and then his fourth foul just a few minutes into the third. But Pierce re-entered and didn't foul again, hitting a couple of key free throws and having his second straight efficient offensive night.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

Some good moments playing on and off the ball in the first half, notably creating looks with effective pick-and-roll runs, and put down one poster on Gorgui Dieng. He had a few moments inside where he should've leapt for a rebound and his foot stuck to the paint like they'd been glued down, but that's a minor criticism.

Alan Anderson SHOOTING GUARD

Played a better Marcus Thornton than Marcus Thornton did tonight, so that's something. His two three-pointers in the fourth quarter changed the game.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

Shot a lot, got burned in help defense, grabbed a few rebounds I didn't expect him to get, hit a corner 3 (he's usually open above the break). His production largely rests on if he's hitting shots, but despite shooting just 30 percent, he still played a largely average overall game.

Marcus Thornton SHOOTING GUARD

Other than one early fun moment backing down J.J. Barea until Barea flopped, scoring right over him, and then staring him down as they ran back down the court, a quiet night from Thornton. He left in the fourth quarter with lower back tightness.

Mason Plumlee CENTER

Though his effectiveness has waned in the last few weeks, he hasn't stopped attacking the rim. It's a welcome sign for a player whose game is built on energy and verticality.

Jorge Gutierrez POINT GUARD

Was a no-show until a big fourth quarter: hit Ricky Rubio with a beautiful spin move that led to an assist, nabbed a couple of nice steals from a lazy Minnesota offense, made good decisions passing the ball, and hit a fast-break layup to get on the board with 45 seconds left. Worth a minimum multi-year deal, that's for sure.


 


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

The Nets played some sloppy basketball on both ends, but just dominated an undermanned, under-good Cleveland Cavaliers team with a barrage of three-point shots.

They also out-rebounded their opponent for just the seventh time in the last 25 games, keeping Anderson Varejao & company at bay with solid boxouts and a good effort from their role players.

Nice win after three overtime games.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

Smart offensive game from Williams, who took good shots (including a beautiful play that opened the game to get him a corner 3), threw out a few deadly crossovers, and exerted just enough energy after playing 40-plus minutes for three straight overtime games.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

Big-time at doing the little things.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

Quietly effective: the Nets know how to use Johnson in the post and he got free for just enough open shots to make Spot-Up Joe a real threat.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

When you start a game hitting with 17 points on 4-4 shooting, you're probably doing something right, right?

Left for the locker room after his hot start after apparently re-aggravating his shoulder injury but returned with no outwardly ill effect. Did get into foul trouble, but it didn't affect his final line: 22 points on 6 shots and 7 free throws is damn near impossible.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

Blatching Blatche is backing back. Pulling behind-the-back crossovers out of nowhere on seven-footers that lead to dunks? Falling down while either shooting or passing (it's honestly impossible to tell) and somehow getting an assist out of it? Spinning and smashing and hooking? Useless stepbacks that somehow work anyway? Missing wide open reverse dunks and getting called for offensive interference? Who does that? Nobody does, not nobody but Dray.

I missed you, LudiBlatche. Never leave us again.

Alan Anderson SHOOTING GUARD

Hit some shots that looked Thornton-like in the first half, including a pretty reverse layup.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

Went from a total non-factor to hitting two quick threes in the third quarter. Like how he attacked the glass, especially on the offensive end.

Marcus Thornton SHOOTING GUARD

Would shoot a man in Reno just to watch himself shoot.

Mason Plumlee CENTER

Smashing into the rookie stanchion. The toll of starter's minutes and multiple overtime games might be taking its toll on the rookie, who wasn't expected to play nearly this much this season. Teams are getting in the lane more easily with Plumlee in the middle. He's better suited as a backup -- Andray Blatche and Jason Collins aren't block-to-block interior defenders like Kevin Garnett is and Plumlee can be in spurts.

Jorge Gutierrez POINT GUARD

A lot of guys on minimum deals or ten-day contracts force their offense, trying to prove they deserve a bigger deal with gaudy, inefficient scoring numbers. But Gutierrez smartly does the opposite: he lets the offense come to him, deferring to higher-efficiency players and taking offense when he's got a good look. He's a minimum player, and certainly a third point guard, but he's leapfrogged Marquis Teague and earned a contract for the rest of the season easily in the last 20 days.


 


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

Not Brooklyn's best showing; even without two of their key pieces (Thornton and Kirilenko, I'm not even counting Garnett since he hasn't played in a month), the Nets played some listless defense outside of their double-teams on Jefferson, didn't force turnovers, helped off corner shooters, and looked generally out of sync on both ends of the floor.

Other than an early offensive outburst, punctuated by 20 first-half points from Deron Williams, and a frantic late run to force overtime, there wasn't much to write home about here: the Nets didn't double quickly on Al Jefferson, allowed too many open three-pointers, and didn't disrupt Charlotte's average offense.

Give them credit for their fight at the end of regulation and in overtime -- three straight games on the road going to overtime in four days isn't easy for any team. But the Nets missed one too many shots down the stretch, and let Charlotte get lucky.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

He really likes playing the Bobcats. Dropped 18 smooth points in the first quarter, hitting threes and floaters alike without taking bad shots. But he didn't produce much after that, and it didn't seem like he was trying to get others involved or facilitate the offense, he just didn't get many looks until the fourth quarter.

Williams tied the game twice down the stretch with Joe Johnson-like looks, both out of the same play action. The first time, he dove into the lane for a game-tying layup, the second time he flared out for a 2 3 2 3 2 3 2-pointer, with his foot just barely on or around the line and replays inconclusive.

Williams was this team's offensive star tonight, and Kemba Walker's field goal percentages understate Williams's defensive acumen. Walker hit a bunch of shots that had no business going near the hoop, while Williams mostly played within the team's principles.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

Speedy and willing to attack, distributed the ball well to the bigs, and his jumper from midrange remains pure and unblockable, but struggled with foul trouble all game and got caught above a couple of down-screens.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

A quintessential Joe Johnson game: created some shots out of the post, got his looks spotting up around Deron Williams, hit one big three-pointer in overtime to close the gap from four to one in overtime, but missed a wide open crunch-time three.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

Didn't take his first shot until near the end of the second quarter, which might be a record for him. He's grown into his new role as the 3rd or 4th option in most lineups, with the occasional stretch where he takes over and finds shots in creative ways. But he had a wide-open chance at the rim with 35 seconds left in overtime to cut the lead to one, and he could not convert.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

Is it just me, or has Blatche played less wild lately? With Lopez, Garnett, and even Kirilenko out of the lineup, there's more pressure on him to stay in the paint and function as a center, but even that doesn't explain it. Outside of a couple of plain, Blatcheian plays (dribbling up-court without control and taking a step-back jumper in the first half), Blatche was mostly a boring center: maintaining space in the paint, grabbing the occasional rebound, and having issues defending Al Jefferson.

I've said before that Blatche would be so much better if he just stayed in the paint and used his quick feet to dominate opponents in the post and box out. But he'd also be 500% less entertaining. Don't get too normalized, Blatche. Don't forget where you came from.

Alan Anderson SHOOTING GUARD

Took rushed shots when he didn't need to. He's a smart defender, but sometimes a bit too eager on the offensive end.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

Looks like he's getting his shot back. I love how he instinctively jumps to get his feet set for a three-point shot upon catching a pass, then bounces right back up to shoot the three. I call it the Pogo Teletostick. That's copyrighted and mine and if you use it I will sue you for ten million United States(US) dollars($).

Mason Plumlee CENTER

Yeah, Al Jefferson torched him.

Jorge Gutierrez POINT GUARD

Ejected midway through the fourth quarter for a flagrant-2 call, coming down on Tyler Zeller on a blocked shot attempt and wrapping around his head/neck area. Despite the play not looking intentional, it drew the ire of Tyler Zeller, and that ended his night.

But before that, he played some real minutes tonight and looked like a real rotation player. He's taking a page out of the Shaun Livingston book by fitting in around the stars around him, rather than trying to take over.

Gutierrez will either get waived or re-signed for the season tomorrow. The way he's played, expect the latter.