Near-Collapse: Nets 105, 76ers 101 (GAME GRADES)

Near-Collapse: Nets 105, 76ers 101 (GAME GRADES)

The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

The Nets escaped on the skin of their free throws when they should’ve rested the whole fourth. Brooklyn spent entirely too much of the second half “holding off” Philadelphia, instead of “blowing out” Philadelphia.

The 76ers are an awful basketball team, and the Nets handed them their 60th loss of the season, but a 21-point lead dissipated over the course of third- and fourth-quarter minutes to as little as three points, and the Nets vaunted bench could only just keep the 76ers at bay.

A win means you can’t fail, but the Nets almost failed themselves with their fourth-quarter performance.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

When everyone is scoring, it’s usually a testament to how Williams is facilitating: he had an excellent all-around game against the hapless 76ers, scoring inside and setting up teammates for easy buckets. By on-court and off-court player ratings, the Nets are worst with Williams off the floor, and best with Williams on it. That doesn’t excuse his role in much of the team’s fourth-quarter collapse, but he did hit a four-point play and two key free throws in crunch time to help seal the win.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

Quiet, distributory, still unstoppable from inside nine feet. Some shoddy crunch-time play, including two missed free throws at a key moment, bring his grade down. But backboards need not apply for disruption.

One note: while it’s true that Deron Williams plays far better with Livingston on the floor with him than Livingston on the bench, the same is true the other way: they’re best when they can share the creative duties.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

Quiet game from Johnson, but the Nets didn’t play their starters much in the second half.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

Loved the way he attacked and spread the ball around, but not an incredibly impactful game.

Kevin Garnett CENTER

Welcome back, KG. Had a solid first stint, hitting his first four shots, including a rim-rattling dunk near the end of the first half. Though the standard caveat applies — they were playing the awful Philadelphia 76ers — he didn’t appear to have any rust despite missing the last 19 games. If the Nets can get that KG in the playoffs for 25 minutes a game, that’ll make a huge difference.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

Andray Blatche has spent 10,000 hours taking ballet with a matador.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

You really, really don’t like when a player shoots an airball in crunch time. He really, really makes up for it by burying a shot from the exact same spot without any hesitation on the next play.

Marcus Thornton SHOOTING GUARD

Still impressed by how well he fits in defensively after his reputation as a poor defender in Sacramento, and he did hit four free throws down the stretch to help seal the game. But a shooter’s conscience isn’t always a good thing.

Mason Plumlee CENTER

Dunks&
Dunks&
Dunks&
Dunks&
Dunks&
Dunks.

Had his issues defensively, one day he’ll do something else offensively, and one day he’ll figure out how to limit his fouls. But every one of his made field goals was the easiest way to put the ball in the basket. Hard to complain about that.

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