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Here's a roundup of last night's Nets festivities.
What happened: The Brooklyn Nets led wire-to-wire once again against a solid opponent, leading by as much as 30 and eventually beating the Memphis Grizzlies 103-94 in Brooklyn for their third consecutive win.
Where they stand: The Nets climb above Mount .500 for the first time this season, with the win pushing them to 30-29. They're the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, one game behind the Washington Wizards for fifth, and three games behind the Toronto Raptors for the Atlantic Division Lead..
That Was... A much bigger blowout than the final score would indicate. The Nets led 87-60 after three quarters, but some lapses in judgment by their second unit forces the starters to re-enter the game. Deron Williams admitted that was an issue. "I didn't want to come back in the game," he said in the locker room, adding that the team talked about it postgame.
Other than that brief lapse, the Nets played this game nearly to perfection: spreading the ball around, using active hands to cause deflections, forcing the Grizzlies into bad decisions, and emphatically clearing .500.
Jason Kidd, does clearing .500 matter? "It doesn't matter. It doesn't. We're playing better. That's all that matters. We're playing better in the month of March, and that's what you want to do leading into the playoffs. The record will take care of itself."
The Stats: Joe Johnson quietly led the game with 21 points, shooting 8-13 from the field and 5-7 from deep. Marcus Thornton added 20 points off the bench, including 15 in a row during one torrid second-quarter stretch. Deron Williams chipped in 16 points, seven assists, and four steals. Paul Pierce dropped 14 points and led the team with eight rebounds. Andray Blatche finished with 12 points and a season-high three blocks.
Joe Cool, Bringing The Heat: "When (opponents) come in this house, you gotta walk out here with an L."
The Nets have the best home record in the NBA since their loss to the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day, at 13-2.
Game Grades: Read 'em here.
HOLY 21-2 WHAT:
The Nets jumped out to an enormous lead on the Grizzlies, leading by as much as 21 in the first quarter. They were the ideal mix of flash and substance: the Nets were getting open looks on the perimeter, guys were scoring through contact, and the Nets spread the wealth around to the player with the open shot.
Active Hands: Follow this line of logic here with me:
- The Nets forced 21 Grizzlies turnovers, which led to 29 Nets points.
- Over the past two games, they've forced 48 turnovers and turned them into 59 points.
- Before Monday, the Nets averaged 18.3 points off turnovers; over the last two games, they've averaged 29.5. That's a 22-point difference between expected points off turnovers and actual points off turnovers.
- They won the past two games by 25 combined points.
Both Jason Kidd and Deron Williams cited the importance of active hands and deflections. "Guys are very active and helping each other and they're executing the game plan," Kidd said. "They're doing very well with deflections and getting their hands on the ball."
The Dray Shake strikes again. Not bad for Andray Blatche to fake reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol out of his shoes and get around him while barely moving and not touching him at all.
Commish to Commish: Former NBA commissioner David Stern attended Monday's Nets win over the Chicago Bulls, and following suit, current NBA commissioner Adam Silver came by Wednesday night. Silver schmoozed with Jason Kidd before the game and stopped by Jason Collins's locker for a brief, private chat.
My Thoughts At The Half: Ketchup is terrible. The Nets are not.
Andray Blatche's Most Impressive Move Of The Day:
This one deserved its own article. Trust me, you'll want to read it.
Jason Collins: is a very smart basketball player. Part of his intelligence is knowing his limitations, but also recognizing his strengths. Former YES Network announcer and Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson often says that too many coaches focus on what a player can't do instead of developing what he can. Collins develops what he can do.
The Basketball Gods Have Rendered Marcus Thornton:
Thornton is the type of player I've pined for the Nets to have in the last few seasons: a dynamic scorer who does little else but put the ball on the floor and in the air, and has the propensity to score points in bunches at any given time. He's the perfect mix of Nate Robinson and J.R. Smith.
Thornton dropped 20 points by the end of the night, 15 of them consecutively in this second-quarter spurt.
Walking On Memphis: Whenever the Grizzlies traveled, the arena DJ would play "Walking on Memphis" by Marc Cohn. Just more proof that Barclays Center has the best DJ in the league.
Andray Blatche Knows Everyone:
Andray Blatche just went over to the lady who was proposed to and shook her hand. Cat is a character.
— Rod Boone (@rodboone) March 6, 2014
So Wait, How The Hell Did This Become A Seven-Point Game? The Nets led by 27 after three quarters, but just stopped defending. John Leuer put on a one-man show in garbage time to end garbage time, hitting threes and fast-break dunks alike. (By the way, "Jon Leuer" sounds like "Ja Rule" if you're not paying attention. Try it.)
Deron Williams, Bein' Cool:
#BKConnect: Was on last night. Check it out here.
Weird Math: The Nets were out-rebounded 43-36 and won again.
Marcus Thornton, Truth to Power:
Guess traffic out here everyday is crazy smh
— Marcus Thornton (@OfficialMT23) March 5, 2014
Locker Room Language: As a horde of reporters circles circled around Andray Blatche, he looked around and said, "where's TMZ at?"
Across the river: The New York Knicks finally eked out a win, overtaking the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minnesota 118-106. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 33 points on 14-27 shooting, while Raymond Felton added 18 points, eight assists, and four steals. They improve to 22-40.
Next up: The Nets have an off day Thursday before traveling to Boston Friday to face the Boston Celtics for the third time this season.