Here’s everything you need to know about Sunday night’s Nets victory over the Boston Celtics:
What happened: The Brooklyn Nets made up for their 25-point loss two nights earlier to the Boston Celtics by maintaining home court in a strong 111-101 victory.
Where they stand: At 3-11, the Nets are fourth in the Atlantic Division.
That was… A strong two-way effort to make up for an embarrassment. Though the Nets saw a 22-point lead whittled down to as little as four late in the game, the Nets got some big shots from Jarrett Jack in the fourth quarter to maintain control, and never trailed throughout.
Many of the Nets players — Brook Lopez, Jarrett Jack, and Thaddeus Young, for example — said they took Friday’s 120-95 drubbing at the hands of these Celtics personally. “Not necessarily per se towards that particular team,” Jack said. “I think we took our performance personal. That we didn’t play to the level that we expect ourselves to, the level of play that we’ve had over the course of the past five or six games. Even though the turnout may not have been in our favor, the effort level was where we wanted it to be.”
“J-Jack said an important thing in practice the other day,” Lopez added. “He just said we don’t want to come in and put our heads down. We want to stay confident, stay proud, get work in, and come prepared for tomorrow. We’re not going to have the same effort, we just need to play like we had been on the road, and then when we came back home.”
Undefeated update: The Nets are undefeated at home since November 17th.
Paint Packin’: The Nets allowed 68 points in the paint Friday night to the Celtics, but just 32 in Sunday’s victory.
“We packed the paint,” Young said. “Guys weren’t hugging their guys on the weak side, we were all helping each other, we were all playing on a string. We got out of sync a little bit but we covered those things up and played hard. I think how hard we play covered up a lot of the miscues that we had on defense and we did a good job of getting back to our guys and closing out short and making them take contested jumpshots.”
Game Grades: Read ’em here. Come for the win, stay for the Shel Silverstein.
Jae, Crowded: The game’s most crucial call came with 1:41 left in the fourth quarter. Jae Crowder, who broke free for an open corner three-pointer, stuck his legs out and tripped a recovering Joe Johnson as he hit the shot, which would have cut the lead to 104-99.
That’s technically illegal — you can’t stick your legs out to try to draw contact, even though it works sometimes — and Crowder was called for an offensive foul, negating his three points.
But as Celtics writers would note, that’s just Crowder’s natural shooting motion.
Jae Crowder ALWAYS kicks his legs out like that. It's not to draw a foul. Refs have called that on him a couple of times.
— Jay King (@ByJayKing) November 23, 2015
ThaddeBrook: You wouldn’t think that Young, who has never been a particularly stout rebounder, interior defender, or three-point shooter, would be a positive pairing with Brook Lopez. And to some degree, the team’s record speaks for itself. But the two-headed monster of Young & Lopez has been quietly solid for this team this season, and Sunday night was no different: Lopez was the team’s focal point on offense, and Young in particular made some crucial plays down the stretch, including a steal, dive, and timeout call that preserved possession for Brooklyn with 6:26 to go in the fourth.
“Hustle really defines your team,” Hollins said, referring to Young’s dive. “You can talk about ‘this guy scores these points,’ ‘this guy gets all these rebounds,’ but it’s who makes the plays when they are needed to be made to help you win the game.”
The two combined for 34 points and 22 rebounds in the victory, along with making the plays when they were needed.
Lionel Hollins’s four factors: As mentioned, the Nets allowed the Celtics to score 68 points in the paint Friday night, but limited that number down to 32 on Sunday. Part of that was shot selection — the Celtics took 37 three-pointers — but I wondered if Hollins enacted something different to push those shots away from the basket.
When asked about the difference in paint scoring, Hollins explained how he broke down a game into four general factors.
“There’s a lot of aspects, but one is controlling the paint, two is the turnovers, three is the rebounding, and I think the fourth one is taking away the corner 3,” Hollins said. “If they make (three-pointers) out top or on angles, you can’t really do much about that. They’re all a part of what you have to do well in in order to win the game. Sometimes you can get away with losing one, but most nights, if you lose all of those categories, you’re going to get beat.”
I think this poses an interesting way to look at the game, not dissimilar to the “Four Factors” more generally used: effective field goal percentage, turnover rate, rebound rate, and free throws per field goal attempt. Paint scoring and corner 3’s both affect a team’s eFG%, and most shooting fouls are drawn in the paint (sans Crowder’s above).
The idea that you can better control your opponents’ paint and corner three-point shooting makes sense too. Lopez said that the Nets looked closely at their defense during Saturday’s practice. “We had lots of weakside help, which we didn’t have the first time,” Lopez said. “It’s easier to guard when they’re not just getting fast-break points off turnovers.”
The Nets dominated the paint scoring (68-32), dominated the glass (49-35, including 14-10 on the offensive boards), won the turnover battle (scoring 25 points off 17 turnovers, as opposed to 18 Celtics points off 15 Nets turnovers), and lost the corner three-pointer battle (the Celtics shot 3-for-7 in the corners, the Nets’ 1-for-6). Three out of four = victory.
The Jack Principle: I’ve begun to develop a theory regarding Jarrett Jack’s shots. Jack shoots at his best when circumstances that create efficient shots stand at their worst. Open three-pointers? No thank you. Contested off-balance floaters? Who else but Jarrett Jack?
Jack tested and proved this principle in the fourth quarter — a quarter when efficiency historically plummets as teams tighten up defensively.
Jack made four shots, three of them off-balance floaters with varying degrees of difficulty, and the fourth a pull-up jumper around a screen with Avery Bradley’s hand in his face. He also made a near-impossible floater from the left corner that was waved off as a shot clock violation.
His miss? A wide-open floater at the rim.
Jack finished with 22 points, hitting 7 of 11 shots and 8 of 10 free throws.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Is Very Quotable, Part I: “Myself has to watch my back,” Hollis-Jefferson said, referring to a tattoo he has of himself on his back.
Hollis-Jefferson later added that the tattoo was originally part of a much larger project, but it was too painful to do beyond the picture of himself, which shows him screaming with passion in an Arizona jersey.
BARGE: Andrea Bargnani took nine shots in 21 minutes, hitting six for 12 points. His shot chart — or just watching him for a possession — will tell you what kind of shots he’s looking for.
Where is Bojan Bogdanovic? One dark spot in the victory is the continued disappearance of Bojan Bogdanovic, who made just one of six shots in 18 minutes. After playing well to open the season, Bogdanovic has hit just five of his last 24 shots in the last five games, including 3-for-15 on three-pointers.
When was the last time you remember Bogdanovic pump-faking on a wide-open three-pointer?
When you ask her to prom and she says no and you say “whatever, I didn’t like you anyway”:
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Is Very Quotable, Part II:
“It was just like relaxing my muscles, and jumping, and I flew, I felt it, I was like, wow, I’m high,” Hollis-Jefferson said about the block. “Inside, that was a big thing for me, because I like blocking shots, so I was like, ‘yeah!'”
Skip to about 40 seconds to see it live.
Hollis-Jefferson had an impact on multiple parts of the game, running the floor for transition baskets, passing under the basket for assists, and playing stout and smart man-to-man defense. He finished with nine points, seven rebounds, five steals, four assists, and a block, making him the first Nets player since Gerald Wallace to hit those marks in a single game. Wallace achieved that in March 2012, when the team still played its home games in Newark.
An unedited conversation between Joe Johnson and Jarrett Jack during Jarrett Jack’s media availability time, following pleas from Thaddeus Young that Jack wear his tinted sunglasses during a televised post-game interview with YES Network:
Joe Johnson: Why you ain’t do your interview with your shades on?
Jarrett Jack: ‘Cause I’m mature. I’m mature.
Johnson: That’s immature?
Jack: I’m mature.
Johnson: No, you would’ve looked good.
Jack: And I’m professional.
Johnson: Oh, okay.
Johnson: Your momma sure wouldn’t have like that, neither.
Jack: Hey, why you gotta talk about my mom?
Johnson: I would’ve told on you, too.
Jack (to the media): See what I’ve got to deal with? Now, back to your question.
Meanwhile, in Dallas:
— Travis Singleton (@SneakerReporter) November 23, 2015
Final scattered thoughts: Joe Johnson’s shooting touch looks good… A Larkin-Robinson backup small-big tandem has its problems, but they can also run the floor better than most… The Nets still struggled with defending the three-point line… The Nets have hit on something with this starting lineup, which has posted good plus-minus numbers despite the losing.
Next up: The Nets have two days off from games before playing the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday in Oklahoma City.