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Here's a roundup of last night's Nets festivities.
What happened: The Brooklyn Nets hung around after a rough start, taking down a depleted San Antonio Spurs squad 103-89. The Nets scored 63 points in the second half.
Where they stand: The Nets maintain the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, and move to three games behind the Toronto Raptors for the Atlantic Division lead.
That was... The first Nets win against the Spurs since March 29, 2010, the first time they've scored more than 100 points in 26 tries against the Spurs, and just their second victory in 23 tries in the Duncan-Parker-Manu era. Of course, none of those three guys actually played, but details, details.
The game was slow at points in the first half, with some excitement building in the third as Alan Anderson went on a tear to bridge the third and fourth quarters. Some fun plays from a few guys saved this one from being a snoozer.
Game Grades: Read 'em here.
Tim, Tony, Manu, Kawhi, Boris who? The Spurs rocketed out to a 13-4 start in the first quarter despite missing five of their best six players: Tim Duncan (rest), Tony Parker (back), Manu Ginobili (hamstring), Kawhi Leonard (finger), Boris Diaw (food poisoning, or, as Gregg Popovich put it, "he's been barfing all day.")
In the first, San Antonio spread the ball in their motion offense and got a bunch of easy shots against the Nets, who struggled to pass around the perimeter and didn't move well without the ball. But after the first quarter, the Nets took over, outscoring the Spurs by an average of seven points per quarter for the rest of the game.
Sneaky Alan Anderson: Alan Anderson went on a tear in the third and fourth quarter, scoring 17 of the team's 21 points during one stretch and finishing with a game-high 22. Anderson got most of his points off assists, but also created his own shot in Joe Johnson-like fashion on a couple of possessions.
But his sneakiest moment came after the game, when Anderson tried to duck out of the locker room while Joe Johnson was talking to the horde of reporters. Joe called him out quickly, joking "you scored 22 points and you trying to leave!" Anderson rebutted, joking "Ever since that All-Star, you done changed, man." A really funny scene.
The Nets broke not one, but two noses tonight: the first on an inadvertent slap from Andrei Kirilenko that took down Nando de Colo, the second an inadvertent shoulder from Shaun Livingston when Matt Bonner tried to reach in to grab a steal. Why did Bonner already have the mask on in the picture above, you ask? Because Matt Bonner's nose was already broken. Brooklyn go hard.
The lesson here is that a slower forward shouldn’t reach in on a quicker guard. pic.twitter.com/rhez0g4HhT
— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballSource) February 7, 2014
Caption This AP Photo:
Homecoming: Brook Lopez returned to Barclays Center for the first time since suffering his season-ending injury on December 20th in Philadelphia. Lopez has been a no-show in practices and games. "It was great to see him, man," Kevin Garnett said of the big man. "I told him he looks like Logan. We always go back and forth with the Marvel Comics, I told him he looks like Wolverine. With the non-shaved and the face, he looked like real Logan today."
Here's how he looked on January 30th, courtesy of Mason Plumlee's Instagram:
Hey Kevin Garnett, How Do You Feel About Playing The Five? "I f---ing hate the five."
It's a shame that Garnett hates the center position so much -- him staying down in the lane has helped the Nets on defense immensely. But I suppose he doesn't want to be miscast as a non-athletic plodder in the middle.
Weird Math: The Spurs starting five of Nando de Colo, Cory Joseph, Danny Green, Marco Belinelli, and Tiago Splitter make a combined $19.1 million this season. Joe Johnson makes $21.5 million.
Deron Williams went down early in the second quarter with an apparent right knee injury, one serious enough to take him out of the game and into the locker room. But he came back strong, playing more like good Deron Williams immediately upon returning: hitting shots, distributing, playing spry. Williams finished with 16 points and eight assists, shooting 7-14 from the field, and 7-10 after his first rough stretch.
My Thoughts At The Half: They had really, really, really better win this game.
Hey Kendall Marshall, what do you think of Andrei Kirilenko's back tattoo?
AK47 a goon for havin that big ass dragon tales tattoo on his back.
— Kendall Marshall (@KButter5) February 7, 2014
Ian Eagle, Out Of Context: "It's like an octopus!"
Andrei Kirilenko, what the hell are you doing?
Kirilenko presumably thought the quarter had ended upon hearing the buzzer sound, easing up on the gas and passing to a San Antonio Spurs player. A rare mental mistake from a normally brilliant player.
Other than that play, Kirilenko was regularly brilliant once again: defending multiple positions with relative ease, finding teammates with beautiful passes, and grabbing a bench-high eight rebounds. There were at least three passes he made that no one else on the Nets does: a touch pass off one foot, a dump-down to Mason Plumlee for a dunk, and an early assist on a backdoor cut.
the Nets are now 13-5 when Kirilenko plays, something he credits to the team finding itself in the new calendar year. Kirilenko finished with just four points, but a season-high eight rebounds and six assists in 26 minutes.
Today's Edition of Shaun Livingston, Doin' Things:
Livingston matched a career-high with four blocks, rounding out an overall statline of eight points, five rebounds, and four assists. He's the mini-Kirilenko at the point guard position, doing a little bit of everything. His block percentage, as you might expect, leads all qualifying point guards.
Joe Johnson, Not Celebrating: The NBA announced today that Joe Johnson, already representing the Eastern Conference in the All-Star Game as a reserve, will also join the 2014 Three-Point Contest. Johnson said he'd known about it for some time, but wanted to play better than the last time he played in 2005, when he only scored eight points. (He remembered making seven shots.)
Johnson did not hit a three Thursday night, finishing 0-2 from three-point range. He scored eight points in total, all from inside the arc.
A fine #PointBlatche Indeed:
This no-look pass to a streaking Mirza Teletovic all but sealed the game. I would watch a five-on-five featuring ten Andray Blatches on Pay-Per-View for $59.95. Take my money, NBA.
Don't sleep: The Nets staying long... The Deron-Shaun-Andrei connection... Alan Anderson's role as #SuperRoleStarHipHop... Paul Pierce embracing the small-ball four...
Across the river: The New York Knicks were off Thursday but dropped their third straight game Wednesday, a 94-90 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Their record stands at 19-30, 2.5 games behind the Charlotte Bobcats.
Next up: The Nets play the second half of a back-to-back tomorrow, facing the Detroit Pistons in Detroit on 7:30 P.M. Kevin Garnett will "most likely not" play, despite playing only 18 minutes Thursday night.