Good morning! The Nets beat the Spurs. Here’s how:
What happened: The Brooklyn Nets snapped their seven-game losing streak against winning teams, defeating the reigning NBA champion San Antonio Spurs in overtime, 95-93.
Where they stand: At 8-9, the Nets rank eighth in the Eastern Conference, and six games behind the Toronto Raptors for first place in the Atlantic Division.
That was… Brooklyn’s best all-around effort of the season.
The teams each slogged through the first quarter with reckless disregard for effectiveness, with the Nets sipping from the Joe Johnson isolation well and the Spurs rimming shots out with regularity. But despite the notion that the Spurs would win a defensive battle, the Nets kept the pressure on while getting open shots in the third quarter for their perimeter players — notably Mostar monsters Bojan Bogdanovic and Mirza Teletovic, opening the lead to as much as 15.
But the Nets, who struggled with shotmaking down the stretch Tuesday night against the New York Knicks, had the same issue with the Spurs, who utilized smart down-screens by Tim Duncan and hit three-pointers get back into the game with a 20-6 run to close regulation. But the Nets stuck with their gameplan in overtime, getting contributions from all five of their starters and gutting out a victory against arguably the NBA’s best team.
Lionel Hollins was happiest about “the grit that (the team) displayed.” “We could have very easily folded, but we didn’t. We came back and executed. We made some big plays, and in the end, I have to commend Deron (Williams), Joe (Johnson), and Brook (Lopez). They were all on the floor on that last play for that loose ball.”
The Crazy Closing Scramble:
After Bojan Bogdanovic committed a potentially costly turnover with nine seconds left and the Nets only up two, Spurs guard Manu Ginobili freed himself at the top of the key for a three-pointer. But the shot clanged left, leading to a game of pinball that finished with six players diving on the floor, including Brook Lopez, who doesn’t dive much for anything.
“Our guys were working, so I felt like I couldn’t stop going,” Lopez said of the final fall. “I saw Joe (Johnson) going after that loose ball, D-Will going after it as well, I might as well jump on the dogpile too.”
Fearza, returned: The Nets were keyed on offense by Mirza Teletovic, who had arguably the best all-around game of his career, dropping 26 points on 9-13 shooting (5-7 from three-point range), adding a career-high 15 rebounds and two assists without a turnover in 43 minutes.
Teletovic, who started in place of a resting Kevin Garnett, has struggled recently with his shot, and said Hollins had some particular advice for him. “He told me, ‘zip your head back together and start playing,'” Teletovic said with a chuckle. “That’s what he said.”
Joe Johnson was a bit simpler: “Mirza was lights out.”
Ian Eagle, using the telestrator with disastrous results.
With regulation in its waning moments, Lopez hit what seemed like a game-clinching jumper, banking in a 20-footer to put the Nets up three. Lopez clearly did not intend to bank it, as you can infer from his giggling.
The play was designed for Lopez, Hollins said. “I told him before we left the huddle, ‘Brook, be ready for a big shot, because it’s coming to you.’ Sure enough, they threw it back to him, he lined it up, and I yelled ‘bank!'” Hollins said with a laugh, before clarifying. “I really didn’t, I thought about it, but I didn’t.”
“He asked (me) if I was ready to shoot, and I told him I was,” Lopez added. “I had confidence in it, it looked straight, and it banked in. I might’ve thought (‘bank’).”
Lopez finished with a season-high 15 rebounds in 45 minutes, matching teammate Teletovic, adding 16 points while holding idol Tim Duncan to 5-18 shooting.
Undefeated update: The Nets are undefeated in December.
Game Grades: Read ’em here.
What do you think Gregg Popovich said to Deron Williams?
International Flavor: Tonight’s game featured the most international players in a game yet this season, with eight Spurs (Argentina’s Manu Ginobili, Australia’s Aron Baynes and Patty Mills, Brazil’s Tiago Splitter, Canada’s Cory Joseph, France’s Boris Diaw and Tony Parker, Italy’s Marco Belinelli, and the U.S. Virgin Islands’s Tim Duncan) and seven Nets (Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Mirza Teletovic, Croatia’s Bojan Bogdanovic, Jamaica’s Jerome Jordan, Mexico’s Jorge Gutierrez, and Russia’s Sergey Karasev and Andrei Kirilenko) on the rosters. But it was tempered a bit, given that three of the players (Splitter, Mills, and Kirilenko) were listed as inactive.
And that doesn’t even include Brook Lopez, who is from Krypton.
No-Show Gamblero: Jeffrey Gamblero, the Nets fan and season ticket holder who was dragged out of Madison Square Garden by security without his prosthetic leg Tuesday night, did not show up at Barclays Center for the game.
Atlantic Domination: All four Atlantic Division teams that were playing tonight won, for the first and almost certainly the last time all year. The New York Knicks were the only team that was off.
Celebrity Watch: Adrien Grenier, Nick Cannon, Bernard Hopkins.
Next up: The Nets have off Thursday before taking on the Atlanta Hawks in Barclays Center Friday night.