For a while, I’d forgotten what a heart-pounding game that ended well for the Nets felt like. But after Friday night’s overtime loss against the Raptors, the Nets competed for 48 minutes with a team that dominated them athletically, limited the Clippers as much as they possibly could (which wasn’t too much) around the rim, and escaped with a 102-100 victory, their first at home in 36 days.
So this was a wee bit different from the last time these two teams played. After getting torn apart by 39 points by this very Los Angeles Clippers team just ten days ago, the Nets played a little more successful on both ends of the floor, forcing the Clippers that couldn’t dunk and weren’t named Chris Paul into taking bad shots.
This game was closer than it should’ve been, mostly because DeAndre Jordan shot a laughable percentage from the free throw line, and the Nets somehow limited the Clippers when the Clippers weren’t dunking everything in sight. But in the end, it worked out, thanks to some ridiculous crunch-time plays by the Nets, and a terrible last-second call by the Clippers that tried to pull off a back-door pass in 1.3 seconds.
Something to build on?
For most of the game, Jarrett Jack did little to nothing.
For the last two Nets offensive possessions, he made the two biggest plays of the night, finding Alan Anderson for a corner three to put the team up two with 15 seconds left, and then hitting a mid-range jumper after a defensive switch and a quick crossover to create space.
Game-winning shot = automatic A+. There is no room for discussion here.
FIFTH MAN RISING WITH THE FOUR-POINT PLAY.
With Jarrett Jack driving down the lane and the Nets down two, Alan Anderson waited in the corner, received the pass, and buried the corner three-pointer and the foul for one more.
For a moment there, it seemed like Alan Anderson wouldn’t even get into the game down the stretch… until he made the biggest play of the night.
Even with Bojan Bogdanovic having another solid game, Anderson just cemented his starting spot for at least another few days.
Joe Johnson, professional scorer. Johnson didn’t do much outside of some fancy Iso-Joe moments, but had about as solid (not explosive) a Joe Johnson game gets at this point: three-pointers, smart passes in the halfcourt, very little forced on the offensive end.
Johnson’s signature moment came in the fourth quarter, when he missed two free throws, only to gather his own rebound, step beyond the three-point line, and bury a 26-footer to cut Los Angeles’s lead to two.
One fun thought: the Nets didn’t put the ball in Johnson’s hands for one second on their final two possessions, and they still won.
Early foul trouble — four fouls in the first half! — kept Garnett limited through most of the game, and was benched as usual for long stretches of the second half.
Garnett might keep his starting spot, but with the Lopez-Plumlee combo showing some modicum of promise, it won’t matter so much who starts the game as who gets the minutes.
Plumlee tends to struggle against quick, athletic centers who can beat him to his own strengths, and there may not be two more difficult matchups in that department than DeAndre Jordan or Blake Griffin.
Didn’t take long to make his presence felt, hitting an early three and throwing this nifty pass to Brook Lopez in the second quarter.
But it was a mostly quiet return for Williams after 11 games off the floor to recover from his rib injury until the fourth quarter, when he started driving more aggressively to the basket and trying to draw contact.
Williams got stronger right until the end of the game, when he hit a pull-up three-pointer to cut Los Angeles’s lead to five to ignite the comeback in the closing possessions. He may be ready to start right away Wednesday night.
He might be a walking trade asset, he might have a rebounding allergy, he might half the lateral quickness of a drugged alligator, but Brook Lopez can still score the basketball about as well as any seven-footer walking this earth.
Granted, Lopez had as many issues limiting DeAndre Jordan from dunking as Jordan had limiting Lopez from hitting floaters. But Lopez has begun scoring at his once-ridiculous rate again, and that can only mean good things for the Nets… even if it’s just on the trade market come February 19th.