I offered no predictions before this game, because it was impossible to know just what was going to happen. I had no idea what Deron Williams would look like after a physical beating Saturday afternoon and five points over two games. I had no idea if Jarrett Jack would continue his merry net-positive ways. I didn’t know if the Hawks would adjust to Brook Lopez, or Al Horford’s pinky would bother him.
This is why I don’t offer predictions. Did you see this game going to overtime? Did you see Deron Williams nearly doubling his scoring output from his first three games? Did you expect that kind of game? Did you see THAT coming?
One thing’s clear through four games: the Nets have more offensive firepower than anyone expected, and they’re not going down without a fight. This isn’t the 1-8 blowout series any of us saw coming.
35 PTS, 13-25 FG, 7-11 3PT, 7 AST, 5 REB, 3 STL
Deron Williams has always been secondary in Brooklyn’s big moments, deferring to Joe Johnson or Jarrett Jack or whoever else was in the midst of a big night.
But Monday night, Deron Williams welcomed “it” back: he hit spot-up and on-the-move three-pointers, found teammates for more open shots than his assist total would indicate, did this rude thing to DeMarre Carroll’s ankles, and led the Nets back from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit with a barrage of threes that damn near tore Barclays Center down.
When he made that twisting 28-footer with the shot-clock running out that splashed through the net, putting the Nets up 102-101, it looked like it was over. But Williams took a curiously early shot with the game on the line, missing a baseline 12-footer with 6.5 seconds left when the shot clock was off. Overtime it was, and it was Williams’s rebound near the end that all but sealed the victory.
Williams has taken criticism from every conceivable angle, here and elsewhere, as the missed shots and opportunities have mounted. But Williams played some of the best basketball he’s ever played in Brooklyn Monday night.
15 PTS, 6-12 FG, 3-6 3PT, 6 REB, 3 AST
Not exactly Bojan-blowing-the-roof-off Bogdanovic, but the dude can still cut off the ball and occasionally take good shots. Also not great that Paul Millsap blew past him for the game-tying dunk with 16.4 seconds left, but he made up for it with the three-pointer in overtime.
17 PTS, 5-16 FG, 6 REB, 5 AST, 1 TOV
For once, Johnson took the backseat to the other member of Brooklyn’s backcourt. Struggled to take comfortable shots in the first half — the Hawks aggressively doubled Johnson any time he caught the ball on the wing, with mixed results.
10 PTS, 5-11 FG, 7 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL
Young didn’t have the best game from minute 1 to 53, but made one of the game’s biggest plays in overtime — because who didn’t? Is this Nets team suddenly the Hawks?
With Lopez out of position, Young struggled on the defensive glass, but the Nets mounted their fourth-quarter comeback with the Young-at-center lineup that allowed them to space the floor and switch anything necessary on defense.
26 PTS, 11-19 FG, 10 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 4 BLK
Lopez’s finest play wasn’t a rebound, it wasn’t a shot.
With deep position in the paint late in overtime, Lopez whirled through a double-team, lofted a pass to the corner for a wide-open Bojan Bogdanovic, and Bogdanovic buried a three-pointer, putting the Nets up 114-113 in overtime with 1:25 left.
It was the kind of read that Lopez has so rarely made, particularly in a high-stakes moment. It was like he matured into Al Horford in the blink of an eye.
It’s gotten to the point when it’s troubling that he only gets two rebounds in a half, rather than routine. (That’s a good thing, I promise.) The Hawks did a good job engaging Lopez defensively and taking him out of the paint, which helped them contest first shots, but allowed the Hawks to get a ton of second-chance points through regulation.
Lopez is this team’s offensive lighthouse: they look to him for light when things appear dark, for his ability to score in a myriad of looks. He did just that, establishing himself with isolations early and getting going in the pick-and-roll. But with the game on the line, it was Lopez’s pass that made his night.
4 PTS, 2-7 FG, 0-4 3PT, 3 AST, 3 STL, 1 BLK, +19
Who is this guy and what has he done with the mid-range shot maestro we’ve come to watch all season?
11 PTS, 4-6 FG, 2-3 3PT, 4 REB, 1 AST, 2 STL, +11
Role Star Hip Hop has a new king.