Good morning, Nets fans and derelicts. Here's a recap of last night's Nets festivities:
What happened: The Nets won, staving off a typical third-quarter collapse and stumbling to an 89-82 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Nets now have their second winning streak of the season, at two games. TWO GAMES!
Undefeated update: The Nets are undefeated in 2014.
Where they stand: The victory improves the Nets to 12-21, tenth in the Eastern Conference. With the Charlotte Bobcats win, the Nets are now two games out of a playoff spot.
Missing the point and the ticket: The Cavaliers were without point guard Kyrie Irving, who did not make the trip to Brooklyn with a bruised knee. Irving is the Cavaliers' best player, averaging 22.2 points, 6.1 assists, and 3 rebounds in 35.3 minutes per game this year. For the Nets, Jason Kidd elected to give Kevin Garnett the night off to rest, with the Nets playing their first game of five in eight nights.
Truth Over Answer: Paul Pierce passed Allen Iverson for 19th on the all-time NBA scoring list with a layup early in the second quarter. Pierce ended the game with 17 points and 24,383 points for his career, earning the post-game interview with YES Network. Next up on the all-time list: former New York Knicks great Patrick Ewing.
Speaking of Paul Pierce, here's him just chillin' on the Cavaliers bench:
Pierce ran into the Cavaliers bench on a dive and just thought he'd hang out for a while. Maybe now that he's got the taste of another team's bench besides Boston's, he wants to see how all of them feel.
Doubling down on the point: The Nets ran with their two-point guard lineup out of the gate, matching Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston on Jarrett Jack and C.J. Miles. Worked pretty well for them once again, most notably at the end: with the Cavaliers on their last legs and playing a desperation full-court press, the Nets broke through the defense easily with both point guards in the backcourt on two straight possessions. The two played 25 minutes together, and were a +5 sharing the floor.
D-Thrill: When Williams wasn't trying to be unselfish, he was electric, hitting Jarrett Jack with a nasty crossover, then getting rookie Matthew Dellavedova with an even dirtier one:
Williams finished with 21 points on 7-10 shooting, adding six assists to just one turnover and the game-clinching shots.
But... Livingston missed some easy shots badly. Like that floater late in the fourth quarter from about seven feet out that he somehow airballed. Not a pretty sight.
What the hell? Reggie Evans had a weirdly effective first quarter, gobbling every rebound in sight and even scoring, hitting a career-high in points seven minutes into the game. At halftime, he had more rebounds (9) than the next two players in the game combined (Anderson Varejao 4, Tristan Thompson 3). He finished the game with 11 boards in 27 minutes, as many rebounds as his next three teammates combined.
Evans struggled to defend in the paint on a few possessions, because he's just not nearly as long as Varejao, Thompson, and Earl Clark, and his offensive liabilities were on display in the third quarter, but he brought more positives than negatives. Just please stop dribbling.
Sweet iPhone pic, bro:
After Varejao hit the ground with an apparent chest injury, some intrepid fans decided to snap a shot of him writhing in pain on the floor. Good job, bros. Glad someone was able to capture that incredibly secretive, hidden shot.
Respect the movement: The Nets had 16 assists on 21 field goals in the first half, committing just three turnovers in that time. Livingston, Williams, Paul Pierce, and Andrei Kirilenko peppered the ball around so much that it infected teammates, who even turned down open shots. (I'm looking at you, Mirza Teletovic.)
Jason Kidd suit update: Kidd went simple, with a plaid undershirt, blue tweed jacket, and no tie for the second straight game. Kidd didn't wear a tie during the team's 95-93 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. My advice: keep it swanky through all of 2014.
Anthony Bennett: Is so bad.
Smooth second: The Nets led the Cavs 51-38 heading into halftime. While the Nets were active on defense, their offensive assault was studded with impressive dunks and nifty plays.
The Nets are really fun to watch then they're making shots. Pierce started at the point forward for the second straight night and dropped 11 points in the half, including a vintage jam. Shaun Livingston started next to Deron Williams in the Nets backcourt, and scored all 4 of his points in the form of nasty dunks. Joe Johnson and Deron also contributed to the barrage of easy buckets. -David Borghard
My thoughts at the half (Nets up 51-38): This team is super good when they share the ball. Kirilenko does so many little things. This Cavs team is horrible. This should be a Nets win.
How many minutes did it take for the 13-point Nets lead to evaporate in the third quarter? It took a little under ten minutes for the 13-point Nets lead to evaporate in the third quarter.
Lowlight: See above. The Nets shot 3-13 in another awful third quarter, regaining their once-dominant lead only on a late Teletovic three-pointer. It didn't help that Dion Waiters hit his last two shots with his eyes closed and the spirit of Jerry West coursing through his veins.
Weird Math: The Nets were outrebounded 45-33 and still won relatively easily.
Shot Chart Rorschach Test: Andray Blatche, the gleefully dancing laser beam with unattached arms.
Don't sleep on: Alan Anderson corner 3's… Kirilenko doing about seven things in his first ten minutes of action that nobody else on the Nets can… Reggie Evans as the designated rebounder if everyone else can shoot… Shaun Livingston as a secret PF who can dribble and pass… Deron's defense on Jarrett Jack… How the Nets somehow won despite a two-point effort from Joe Johnson.
Quote of the Night:
Andrei Kiirlenko on being "calm" on the court: "I've always been like that. I guess it's because I'm a cold-blooded Russian."
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) January 5, 2014
— GinaMarie Felicitato (@GinaMarie_F) January 5, 2014
Next up: Brooklyn's in the middle of a four-game homestand, with three games at home this week. The Atlanta ex-Joe Cool Hawks are next up on Monday, in what's basically a victory lap for the Hawks, who own the better unprotected 2014 first-round pick between the Nets and Celtics.