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Here's a roundup of last night's Nets festivities:
What happened: The Nets put up a blowout for the second straight game, beating the Orlando Magic on their home court 101-90. They improve to 18-22 on the year.
Where they stand: The win holds the Nets as the East's sixth seed and leaves them two games behind the Toronto Raptors for the Atlantic Division lead.
That was... A much bigger demolition than the final score may indicate. The Nets cruised through the entire fourth quarter to this victory, getting big buckets from Mirza Teletovic and Andray Blatche to maintain a lead. Only a late flurry of meaningless buckets from Orlando kept the score that close.
Undefeated update: The Nets are undefeated in 2014 with Kevin Garnett in the starting lineup and undefeated outside of Canada in 2014.
It Was Cold Outside:
The Nets listed the official attendance at 15,482, but that seems like a stretch: the inclement weather kept a fair amount of fans away from the arena. It was more full than you might expect, and definitely more full than some of the team's snowstorm games in New Jersey.
DRAYDICULOUS: Andray Blatche is so, so fun to watch in a blowout. He completely abandons any semblance of basketball rigidity and plays entirely to the beat of his own drum. Step-back three? Sure, why not? Dribble-drive my man? Give me the ball and get out of my way. Did I airball that last shot? Good, I can make up for it here.
It's that complete disregard for basketball norms that leads to Blatche impersonating the JET celebration, an efficient 18 points on 11 shots, and this poster on Magic big man Kyle O'Quinn:
Deron Williams noted after the game that the team needs Blatche to play well even more with Brook Lopez out. I don't know if well is the word. Blatche might be the only word that describes it.
D-Bench: Williams came off the bench for the second straight game, electing to stay out of the starting lineup while the lineup was working. He had an effective game with the second unit, finishing with nine points and nine assists in 28 minutes.
To mix sports metaphors, I think they'll play it like a no-hitter when the pitcher's thrown 120 pitches: they'll leave the lineup in as long as it's working, but once opponents get a hit, they'll go back to the original lineup.
One interesting note: Deron referred to the second unit as "we," as opposed to the entire team, when discussing the game at one point in the locker room. Indicates his comfort level with it.
Spreading the wealth, Part I: No Nets player played more than 30 minutes in either of the team's back-to-back blowout wins. Kevin Garnett played under 20 minutes both times. With a veteran roster, that kind of rest is crucial.
вечер русской культуры: The Nets had an Evening of Russian Culture. They had Russian singer Mikhail Svetlov sing the National Anthem, Alexander Markov with a sick electric violin solo at halftime, and another Russian guy announce the starting lineups. He said Glen Davis twice by accident and most of us had no idea who he was announcing. All good.
I could've done without this chant, though:
I think I just accidentally joined a cult.
Spreading the Wealth, Part II: The Nets finished the game with 29 assists, the third straight game they've had over 25 assists. Like Monday, it wasn't just one guy finding teammates: six Nets players had multiple assists. The ball popped around the perimeter with ease and the Nets found open shot after open shot in the flow of their offense.
But Keeping The Wealth: The team committed just eight turnovers, and one of them was a shot clock violation in the waning seconds just to let the clock run out. Tonight was as beautiful an offensive display as the Nets have had all season.
Today's Edition of Shaun Livingston, Doin' Things:
Livingston steal, Livingston clutch, Livingston slam. I don't think there's an award for best fifth offensive option in a starting lineup, but Livingston deserves it. Even in a sloppy shooting game, Livingston racked up six assists without turning the ball over once.
Game Grades: Read 'em here.
Joe Defended: The Nets tried to run their offense through Joe Johnson as they've usually done, but the Magic were wise to their tricks, fronting him in the post and running quick double-teams at him early. Johnson still finished with a team-high 10 points and eight field goal attempts in the first half, but there was a concerted effort to limit those attempts.
For the second straight game, Johnson didn't leave much of an imprint on the second half, but he didn't really have to: the Nets cruised to a victory anyway, allowing him to rest on the offensive end. He finished with 13 points on 6-11 shooting.
My Thoughts At The Half: This is a team that they're better than by a wide margin, and they're only up 4. The ball movement is nice and the offense is clicking, but they've got to protect the paint.
Glen Davis's Thoughts At The Half:
— Alex Raskin (@alexraskinNYC) January 22, 2014
Update on Glen Davis's Thoughts:
Glen Davis may have been wrong.
— Alex Raskin (@alexraskinNYC) January 22, 2014
Third Quarter: The Nets have become a third-quarter juggernaut in 2014: they were outscoring opponents by eight points per game in the third since the New Year before putting up a +13 in the third against the Magic. Orlando shot just 3-21 from the field in the frame.
Jason Kidd Suit Update: Kidd wore a gray jacket with a vertically-striped blue-and-white shirt, nearly matching the Magic's old-school black-and-white striped uniforms. Loose collar, as always.
Frankly Speaking: Deron Williams spoke openly about Kidd coaching differently with Lawrence Frank out of the picture: "Since Lawrence has left, I think he's ... he was leaning on (Frank) a lot, and I think now he can kind of coach the way he wants to, and do things the way he wants to, and I think that's what you're seeing."
Shot Chart Rorschach Test: Mirza Teletovic: Reggie Evans.
Don't sleep: Kevin Garnett's passing out of the high post... Alan Anderson's non-stop hustle... Fearza making it happen from deep... The telekinetic connection between Andrei Kirilenko and Deron Williams... Opening the paint with the mid-range game...
Quote of the Night:
I think we got that swag now, that we can feel like we beat anybody when we step out there.
Next up: The Nets get two full days off from games following the back-to-back before they face the 25-18 Dallas Mavericks in Brooklyn Friday.