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Here’s a roundup of last night’s Nets festivities.
What happened: On Jason Kidd’s 41st birthday, his Nets pulled out a wild comeback victory in overtime over Kidd’s former Dallas Mavericks, roaring back from a 14-point third-quarter deficit behind heroics from Marcus Thornton, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, and Deron Williams in a 107-104 win.
Where they stand: The Nets keep on rolling; their fourth straight win puts them at 37-31, only one game back from the Chicago Bulls for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and two games behind the Toronto Raptors for the Atlantic Division. It’s also a win over one of the three .500 teams they’ll face in the last month of the season. That’s right: of their 14 remaining opponents, 12 teams are under .500.
That Was… Rough for a long stretch before getting fun. Outside of some brief bench scoring, the Nets couldn’t get up good shots in the first half, shooting just 35.9 percent in the first 24 minutes and getting out-rebounded 26-19.
But in the last 12 (eventually 17) minutes, the Nets turned their fortunes around: Marcus Thornton hit some wild shots, Deron Williams dished out a few big assists, and with 22 seconds left, the Nets had the ball down two.
Enter Joe Johnson.
We haven’t seen Joe Cool much around these parts lately; the Nets haven’t had many close games late, and Johnson’s heroics in crunch time have taken a backseat. But Iso-Joe knows his game, and crunch time against the Nets becomes a situation where opponents tighten up and don’t help in time.
Because of that, and because Alan Anderson lurked the corner for a potential go-ahead three, and because Dirk Nowitzki’s slow, Johnson drove right past Shawn Marion and into the lane for the game-tying shot.
Johnson kept it up in overtime, hitting two more shots in Joe-T before a Deron Williams dagger and some Paul Pierce free throws kept the Mavericks at bay. Johnson finished with a team-high 22 points on 8-16 shooting.
MARK CUBAN STRUGGLE FACE: What’s the Mark Cuban struggle face? THIS IS THE MARK CUBAN STRUGGLE FACE.
Game Grades: Read ‘em here.
That’s how long Jose Calderon lasted in this one, due to this inadvertent elbow from Mason Plumlee. Hope Calderon’s face is okay, but his replacement Devin Harris did just fine in his absence.
The GIF above is a solid microcosm of Plumlee’s performance: spastic, inadvertent, unintentional.
How They Slayed The Dalembear: The Nets had little answer on the offensive end for Sam Dalembert, who swatted away seven shots and dominated the glass nearly single-handedly. He was a wrecking ball on both ends, forcing Mason Plumlee and Andray Blatche into foul trouble and allowing the Nets to get very few attempts in the paint.
Until the very end of regulation, when Jason Kidd threw out a confusing, super-small lineup that featured no true big man: Deron Williams, Shaun Livingston, Joe Johnson, Alan Anderson, and Paul Pierce. With everyone spaced out and Livingston lurking in the opposite corner, Dalembert had nowhere to hide if he wanted to plant in the paint, and as a result, Johnson picked up the easy layup in the lane with Dalembert 20 feet away. It was the ultimate in space.
“We played Pierce at the 4, so why not the 5?” Kidd joked after the game.
Watch out, Kenny!
Mavericks forward Jae Crowder got a little out of control in the second quarter, barreling directly into YES Network cameraman Kenny and Kenny’s camera. Ian Eagle and Donny Marshall had a good laugh about it.
Shout out to Kenny for putting a hand out. Gotta protect the equipment.
My Thoughts At The Half: If the Nets score at all like they’ve been able to in 2014 and not at all like they have in the first half, they should be fine.
I was right.
Great job, Nets! Devin Harris had a red-hot start after coming off the bench in the first quarter. Love to see him attack the basket like that. Vince Carter also made some good contributions.
*Time-warps from 2008 to 2014*
Something cool about: Jason Kidd, Devin Harris, and Deron Williams sharing a floor together. That’s every Nets point guard of relevance in the last 13 years, one now a coach, one a starter, one a backup.
I have many favorite things about this photo:
I don’t know what to choose: Joe Johnson’s staredown of Dalembert, the way half the crowd (most incredulously the blonde woman above Johnson’s right shoulder) stares at the jumbotron like it’s falling off the ceiling, or the guy in the bottom left corner who is either Devin Harris’s dad, older brother, or doppelgänger, oblivious to the jumbotron’s enticing ways.
BUCKETS: Marcus Thornton now has 175 points in 14 games. Jason Terry had 159 points in 35 games. Terry is a fine human being and a great quote, but Thornton is leaps and bounds better at basketball at this point. The Nets entered the fourth quarter down seven points, and Thornton almost erased that by himself.
Kirilenkout, again: Andrei Kirilenko twisted his left ankle in the second quarter and didn’t return. X-rays were negative. It was not the same ankle he’d injured earlier this year. No word on if he’ll play tomorrow against the Pelicans.
Across the river: The New York Knicks blew a 17-point lead at home and lost to the 26-44 Cleveland Cavaliers. They’re now 3 games behind Atlanta for a playoff spot.
Next up: This game came on the first half of a back-to-back; the Nets will travel to New Orleans after the game to take on the New Orleans Pelicans Monday night.