With a few different dominating storylines — how will the Nets bounce back from their opening-night defeat? Will Mason Plumlee compete with Andre Drummond? Will anyone show up to the arena to watch the game? — the Brooklyn Nets ended up falling back on their oldest and most entertaining storyline: Joe Marcus Johnson dominating a fourth quarter with the team’s back against the wall and leading the team to victory.
There were some concerns, most notably letting a 15-point lead slide into nothing. But the offense ran much more crisply for 48 minutes than it did Wednesday night, and the Nets locked up in the final minutes as the Detroit Pistons seemingly couldn’t run a set, hitting just one field goal in the final ten minutes.
Don’t forget that last part. Joe Johnson’s explosion means nothing if the Nets don’t get stops. They did, time and time again down the stretch, and it led to an instantly easy victory.
15 PTS, 6 AST, 0 STL, 0 TOV, 7-19 FG
After Brandon Jennings danced and pranced in the first quarter, D-Will threw down some killer crossovers in the second, leading to three quick buckets. You can see Williams’s energy level perk up defensively when he starts cooking on offense, which might come off like a backhanded compliment.
Williams mostly stood in the background with the rest of the team as Joe Johnson burned the Palace at Auburn Hills to the ground, but did get one fancy reverse layup to put his name in the scoresheet. Definite improvement in smoothness over a rough first game.
That said: Williams’s 31-game streak with at least one steal was snapped.
2 PTS, 1-7 FGA
He’s good. No, he is. He’ll be good. He’ll get there. He will. I think. But he’s not there yet.
100 THOUSAND TRILLION SWAGGER (34 PTS, 15 IN 4TH)
Went straight Bikram Yoga Fire in the fourth quarter with the game slipping away, hitting five straight shots after the Nets trailed for the first time since 2-0 and closing the game for the Nets
Mr. Overpaid And Underrated exhibited complete control over the first quarter, tip-toeing around Kyle Singler’s underwhelming defense to the rim for layups, burying a three from Canada, and setting up teammates for open shots inside and out, and kept the train rolling throughout the game.
There’s few if any players in the NBA that can pick their spots better than Johnson. He proved that in the first round of the playoffs last year, abusing DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross time and time again; while tons of scorers take low-percentage shots against bad defenders, Joe Cool burrowed to the hole past Kyle Singler for layups. (To be fair, he also buried two three-point looks from approximately stupid feet away.)
18 PTS, 14 REB, 7-15 FG
Perhaps his best game in a Nets uniform, or at the very least, up there with his inspiring fourth quarter against the Golden State Warriors last January.
After struggling early with his jumper — it looked like he was just a bit out of the 16-18 foot range on a couple of them — but smartly went inside in the second to try to draw fouls on the uber-talented but trigger-happy Andre Drummond.
After getting comfortable inside Garnett began spreading back out, and hit a few patented jumpers to reach 10 points by halftime and a double-double midway through the third quarter, just his fourth in a Nets uniform.
We’re only two games in, so to say “damn the minutes restrictions” seems a bit premature — we’ll see if Garnett’s body holds up over an 82-game season playing the minutes he did — but a Kevin Garnett comfortable with his role is a welcome sight to see.
10 PTS, 5 REB, 4-6 FG
He has one move in the post — a righty hook — but the good news is that teams still think he has zero, so he was able to get a couple of clean looks with that right hand. Was clearly outmatched by Drummond inside a couple of times, but held his own more than I expected.
12 PTS, 4-7 FG, 2-5 3PT
Did YOU know Mirza Teletovic could drive-and-scoop for layups twice in the same quarter? Because I did not know Mirza Teletovic could drive-and-scoop for layups twice in the same quarter.
It’s not that he’s a better player than Bogdanovic. It’s that he may fit better with the starters because of his attention to defense, and a limited catch-and-shoot offensive role might suit him better than the more versatile Bogdanovic, who could theoretically do more with the second unit.
6 PTS, 5 REB, 3-3 FG
Really, really good pickup with Lopez hurt and the Nets in need of a third-string center.