It’s funny: when the Nets started this stretch of games, I figured it could potentially end their season. But they’ve now won back-to-back games against two teams heavily favored to take them down, the second on the road.
The team’s effort in the past few weeks has been a complete code switch from their back-to-back 39- and 35-point losses two weekends ago: even before Deron Williams returned, the Nets blended a nice combo of transition scoring, ball movement, and reliance on their big scorers to make plays to stay competitive throughout.
Most of the attention will focus on the Nets offense, which was among their best performances of the season. But their defense made multiple stops down the stretch, even if you factor in the Raptors rimming out enough shots to call into question what Toronto did to upset the basketball Gods. The Nets have routinely had difficulty getting stops to close out games this season. That wasn’t an issue tonight.
One fun fact: that was the Raptors’ first loss in the Atlantic Division this season.
24 PTS, 9-13 FG (2-4 3PT), 6 AST, 4 REB, 1 STL
Hit two threes in the first half, which reads like a typo, and nobody in the NBA has put down more floaters. Rode an excellent inside-out game — while Jack has normally made his mark from the mid-range, he was able to get to the rim and in the paint for most of his shots.
22 PTS, 7-9 FG (3-5 3PT), 5 REB
Flurry of points early and throughout, including a surprise two-hand dunk in the second quarter and some nice corner pops. No coach will rely on Anderson to drop 20-plus night in and night out, but he can have games like this when the Nets have their major threats in the game drawing the defense’s attention.
Something about ex-Raptors guards playing for the Nets in Toronto.
12 PTS, 4-8 FG (1-3 3PT), 7 AST, 1 STL, 0 TOV
Has done a really solid job in the past few games of passing out of double-teams to find open teammates, and tonight was no exception.
7 PTS, 3-6 FG, 4 REB, 3 STL, 2 PF
Jumpers, rebounds, defense, fouls.
6 PTS, 2-5 FG, 7 REB
With the Nets middling their way to the trade deadline, one of the brightest things to watch for is Plumlee’s little nuggets of development. Here’s one: midway through the first quarter, the Nets found Plumlee on the right block for a post-up play. For some inexplicable reason, the Raptors decided to double-team him — not that Plumlee’s not a scoring threat, but he’s not a natural post-up player.
But Plumlee recognized the double-team, read the defense, and whipped a pass inside to Kevin Garnett, who hit a layup and-one.
11 PTS, 4-12 FG (0-2 3PT), 6 AST, 3 REB, 0 TOV
An attack-heavy performance to build on: some nice, quick moves by Williams, who struggled to get his outside shot going but wasn’t reticent about driving to the rim and looking to create in any of his times on the floor. The team’s ball movement is on another level when he’s on the floor. His shooting wasn’t great, but six assists and no turnovers is a welcome sight.
But if he’s supposed to give Jarrett Jack rest, why are they playing major minutes together?
8 PTS, 4-14 FG, 4 REB, 2 AST
Difficult night for Lopez to get anything going offensively. It seemed like he was forcing much of his offense, on a night when the perimeter players had their shots clicking.
Did have one nice swat on a Kyle Lowry layup in the fourth quarter, but quiet otherwise in a solid team victory.
6 PTS, 3-6 FG, 5 REB
Can a man erupt in dunking fire? Because Cory Jefferson did just that in the second quarter, throwing down back-to-back dunkfernos (including this one that ended Patrick Patterson as a concept) that energized the bench and cemented his presence on the court for a few more minutes.
He’s got a lot of room to grow, particularly on the defensive end — he was beaten on two pick-and-rolls shortly after those two dunks. But that vertical leap alone keeps him on — or, slightly above — the floor.
11 PTS, 3-5 FG (3-4 3PT), 5 REB, 1 AST
On one play in the fourth quarter, Bogdanovic caught the ball behind him, did a full 180-degree spin without dribbling, and was called for the travel as his three-point attempt bounced off the rim.
A few minutes later, Bogdanovic was the recipient of some pretty ball movement, faked out a Raptors defender, took one dribble, and buried a three-pointer to put the Nets up 16.
Bogdanovic later buried a three-pointer from the US-Canadian border and took a flagrant-2 foul from Demar DeRozan without incident. Good night for the rookie.