Maybe it’s just a gentleman’s sweep, but given how close the first two games were, the Nets taking control in this one is not that big of a surprise: they protected the rim, hit shots when it mattered, spread the ball and kept everyone involved, put up their biggest run (18-0) to bridge the third and fourth quarters, and never relinquished the lead.
The Nets have now guaranteed at least a five-game series. Will it be more?
3 PTS, 1-8 FG, 7 REB, 6 AST, 3 TOV
It is difficult to fairly grade someone who was so clearly hurt after hitting his tailbone on the floor in the first half. It reminds me of when I gave Brook Lopez an F on the night he broke his foot: sometimes there are just circumstances that are out of the player’s control that you don’t fully understand until after the fact.
But it is also difficult to reconcile that with the fact that the Nets went on an 18-0 run almost immediately after Williams left the game for good; that Williams could attack the first line of defense with ease and dribbled aimlessly in front of the second; that Williams struggled to set up teammates and hit jump shots, the last of which an ugly airball that led to an alley-oop dunk by Kent Bazemore; and that following the airball, Williams threw away a pass that led to another Hawks layup.
In his past seven games, Williams has as many turnovers (17) as field goals, and he has shot 23.3% from the field (17-73). Even the harshest Williams critic would recognize that this is uncharacteristic of the point guard. Something is off, and it comes at the worst time of the season.
19 PTS, 7-13 FG, 3-7 3PT, 3 REB, 3 STL, 1 AST
If he ever figures out how to shoot on the road…
Brooklyn’s hot first quarter was mainly the result of Bogdanovic, who hit three of four shots from deep in the first and kept the trend rolling. His hot shooting at home is well-established at this point, but teams are still giving him space and he’s hitting even when they don’t.
16 PTS, 5-17 FG, 2-7 3PT, 10 REB, 5 AST, 2 STL
Like a fine wine, he got better by quarter. That’s how the saying goes, right?
18 PTS, 8-16 FG, 11 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 4 TOV
Following his poor performance in Game 2, scoring just two points on 1-7 shooting, Young apologized to his teammates both in person and through the media, vowing to improve.
Mission accomplished: Young dropped a team-high 12 points in the first half, played active defense, showed off his effective left hand, and pulled down enough rebounds to contend with Paul Millsap.
22 PTS, 7-18 FG, 8-12 FG, 13 REB, 2 BLK, 2 TOV
My favorite move of Lopez’s tonight: the spin move he pulled off on the left block three or four times. Clean, smooth, predictable, and still kind of unstoppable.
It’s hardly trenchant or innovative analysis, but Lopez is the biggest and longest dude in either team’s rotation, and if he can carve out space in the paint & Nets guards can find him in positions to score, he will do just that. It seems they’ve figured out Atlanta’s magic pick-and-roll defensive formula, and Lopez offered just enough rim protection to bother Jeff Teague & his merry band of Hawks drivers.
5 PTS, 1-3 FG, 1-1 3PT, 2-2 FT, 8 AST, 5 REB, 2 TOV
On occasion this season, Jarrett Jack has shot the Nets out of games, pulling up for mid-range shots in pick-and-roll sets when a pass would do, or throwing away a careless pass out-of-bounds or into an opponent’s hand.
But for the second straight game, Jack bucked his regular-season trends. He didn’t force jumpers. He found his big man out of double-team traps. He did not turn the ball over for most of the game. He hit an above-the-break three-pointer midway through the fourth quarter. He played the entire fourth quarter, and not in the maddening “why isn’t Deron Williams playing” way. He led the team during their 18-0 run that sealed the game.
Allen Robertson wrote an article earlier about starting Jarrett Jack over Deron Williams. The way the series has progressed, Lionel Hollins has to take that idea seriously.