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Here's a roundup of last night's Nets festivities.
What happened: The Nets dropped a close game on the road to the Golden State Warriors, falling 93-86. The Nets started off both halves slowly, but clawed back in zombie-like fashion behind Deron Williams and Andray Blatche before a banked-in Stephen Curry 3 all but sealed the victory for Golden State.
The stats: Deron Williams led the Nets with 20 points and six assists, while Andray Blatche added 14 points and eight rebounds. Joe Johnson finished with 15 points, but shot just 5-16 from the field. Andrei Kirilenko pulled down a season-high nine rebounds.
35-year-old Warriors center Jermaine O'Neal turned the clock back with a dominating 23-point, 13-rebound performance. He didn't commit a single foul. Stephen Curry added 17 points on 7-13 shooting, adding eight assists and five rebounds. Three Warriors ended the game with double-digit rebounding totals, and the Warriors out-rebounded the Nets 50-39.
Where they stand: At 25-28, the Nets fall to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. How close are the standings? A win would've tied them for the fifth seed.
That was... A good game until the last 90 seconds. Deron Williams & Stephen Curry went toe-to-toe. The Nets hung around despite a terrible performance from three-point range. Not all of crunch time was bad; there was one pretty feed from Williams to Blatche for a layup, but two crucial turnovers from normally robotic crunch-time force Joe Johnson led to their demise.
Stephen Curry's 24-7 Bank: As mentioned, Curry banked in a three-pointer that put the Warriors up 91-86, sealing the game for Golden State. Though a bank shot's an unlikely and unlucky bounce for Brooklyn, they also let Stephen Curry free to shoot an open three-pointer, which is a huge no-no. They deserved the loss on that alone.
Curry celebrated in proper fashion:
Important sight in that GIF: Ryan Ruocco and Mike Fratello staring at Curry, who apparently is trying to set a record for most public self-wedgie.
Early Struggles: The Nets looked awful in the first few minutes of this one, giving up an early 13-2 lead with sloppy play on both ends. Deron Williams threw a pass away, Paul Pierce lost the ball between his legs, and the Nets gave up some easy baskets. But the bench mob helped bring the game back, playing impressive defense and getting shots at the rim to bring the lead back.
Game Grades: Read 'em here.
An Exhaustive Breakdown of New Nets Guard Marcus Thornton: In what should have been his debut with his new team, Thornton did not play due to a bout with food poisoning.
Please Not Shaun Livingston: No human being alive wants to see Shaun Livingston laying on the ground and writhing in pain. Livingston took a hard fall in the first quarter driving to the basket, bruising his tailbone and laying face-down and motionless for a few seconds before getting up and trying to play. He came out in the second quarter and didn't return. X-rays came back negative, but I'd be surprised if he played today against Los Angeles.
Jermaine O'Neal Takes Incredibly Long To Shoot Free Throws: Evidence here.
Three's Bad Company: The Nets, facing one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league, missed heir first eleven three-point attempts before Alan Anderson buried a pretty three in transition late in the third quarter. Mirza Teletovic and Paul Pierce each missed five three-point attempts, and the Nets finished an abhorrent 2-21 from three-point range as a team.
Williams continued his stretch of looking like a new human being after the All-Star break, hitting crossovers and layups alike. Stephen Curry isn't a world-class defender, but it's still nice to see Williams taking advantage. Along with this layup, Williams hit a bevy of mid-range jumpers; he's shooting a scorching 48.8 percent on mid-range shots this season, one of the best marks in the league.
My Thoughts At The Half: This is one of the better games the Nets have played in a while. With the Warriors hurt and in foul trouble, they've got a real shot.
Whoops. It's true the Warriors were hurt (they didn't have starting center Andrew Bogut and starting forward David Lee) and in foul trouble (Harrison Barnes had four fouls at the half, and the Warriors finished the game with four guys that had four or more fouls), but the Nets just couldn't take advantage.
Andray Blatche Is Learning:
Blatche played another solid offensive game, mostly staying in the paint and getting baskets at the rim. He had good moments defensively, but he struggled to make decisions when his defensive assignment strayed away from the basket. Also, Jermaine O'Neal accidentally elbowed his face and caused a nosebleed. At least he plugged his nose with a noseplug this time.
Anyone See if Gary Payton Was Hanging Out At This Game?
Just saw Gary Payton hanging out at the Nets/Warriors game.
— Andy Vasquez (@andy_vasquez) February 23, 2014
Let's Not Lose Sight Of How Incredible This Is: When Nets 7'2" center Brook Lopez went down, the Nets replaced him in their starting lineup with 6'7" point guard Shaun Livingston. When Livingston went down in the first quarter, the Nets replaced him to start the second half with 6'9" small forward Andrei Kirilenko. Positionless basketball at its finest.
Meanwhile, In Sacramento:
What's the hip hop station in Sac.
— ReggieEvans30 (@ReggieEvans30) February 22, 2014
Across the river: The New York Knicks, who led by 17 over the Atlanta Hawks, collapsed in the second half and fell to 21-35 with a 107-98 loss. They gave up career-highs in points to DeMarre Carroll (24 points) and Mike Scott (30 points) They're not even fun to make fun of anymore. They're just a depressingly bad team, with a disgruntled superstar in Carmelo Anthony and hope slipping away every day.
This, via Seth Rosenthal of Posting and Toasting, pretty much says it all.
Next up: The Nets don't rest long -- they'll take on the Los Angeles Lakers tonight at 9 P.M. EST at Staples Center. The Lakers recently beat their longtime rival Boston Celtics behind a big performance from former Nets guard (and former Celtics guard) MarShon Brooks.