For 36 minutes, it looked good.
In the first 3 quarters, Brooklyn spread the ball around well, played lockdown defense in the paint, struggled with John Wall but bothered Marcin Gortat into a rough night inside, and played the type of game you'd expect of a solid team beating another solid team.
The fourth quarter was an entirely different story.
Without anyone but Marcus Thornton able to create offense and an incredible offensive explosion from Drew Gooden -- Drew Gooden! -- the Nets gave the game away in the final six minutes, taking terrible shots in isolation and barely running anything. They didn't hit a field goal in the final 6:22, and given their shot selection, it shouldn't come as a surprise. The Wizards swept the season series, but the Nets might as well have handed it to them.
So close, Deron:
But that one aside Williams started the game really well, hitting shots inside and out and at checking John Wall into medocrity. He came around a screen and buried a wing three-pointer to give him 10 points in the first and I thought we might be in store for a classic D-Will performance. It didn't end that way, and John Wall gave D-Will fits all night. But the Nets offense is just better with him on the floor, and that was reflected in tonight's game.
It was a curious decision by Kidd to take Williams out in the middle of their fourth-quarter sputter. When he returned, he didn't play in sync. But one man can't stop Wall, and Williams isn't the worst culprit here.
Not a factor on the offensive end, but his usual havoc-inducing self on the defensive end and had one filthy crossover in the first quarter.
Pretty post on Ariza to kick off the game and played mostly off the ball. It is weird to see him become more and more accustomed to taking less and less responsibility, but if the offense fits...
Got into a hilarious screaming match with Trevor Booker in the first quarter -- after Pierce took offense a primal Booker scream after a blocked shot, Pierce spent the rest of the first quarter screaming at every possible moment. He scored on Booker and yelled back at him. He called out defensive assignments so loudly the rim microphone picked it up over all other sounds from 25 feet away. He made a mockery of Booker's scream, while at the same time doing his proper job as a defender. It was phenomenal mindgaming from a legendary veteran.
Pierce has become this team's emotional leader in Garnett's absence, which has its own value, but probably less than his solid offensive production.
Two parts Baltche and one part Blatche tonight. Had a solid first half on offense, including an impressive dunk that the crowd liked so much they actually cheered a bit before they realize they were cheering archnemesis Andray Blatche. But he couldn't defend Drew Gooden -- AGAIN, DREW GOODEN! -- in crunch time, took way too much time recovering on screens, and didn't come anywhere near crucial rebounds.
Returned to the floor for the first time since suffering a sprained ankle in Saturday's loss and did just about everything you'd expect him to do on the floor: chased down loose balls, flailed with relative impunity, and missed free throws.
Ran the floor really well, played decent defense without fouling, and other than a few passes he should've made and didn't, played perfectly within his limitations. Also, he goaltended the living crap out of a John Wall layup to close the first half.
He played so well I had "Mason Plumlee should be playing crunch time minutes" as a real thought. But he needs to rebound better.