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Here’s an early roundup of last night’s Nets festivities.
What happened: The Brooklyn Nets withstood a third-quarter run from the Sacramento Kings and a monster game from DeMarcus Cousins, turning a 57-all tie into a 104-89 blowout victory.
Where they stand: At 31-30, the Nets go over .500 for just the second time this season. They’re 1.5 games behind the Washington Wizards for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, and four games behind the Toronto Raptors for the Atlantic Division lead. If the playoffs ended today, they’d face the Raptors.
That Was… An up-and-down-and-up game for Brooklyn, who rushed out to a hot start, let the Kings rumble back into it, then sat back and watched as Marcus Thornton burned Barclays Center to the ground with a barrage of three-pointers and fancy shots.
THIS THORNTON’S ON FIREEEE:
Newest Nets guard and former Sacramento King Marcus Thornton caught fire once again, scoring more than 20 points for the third time this season and 27 overall, his high with the Nets. After scoring 15 points in rapid succession against the Memphis Grizzlies, Thornton dropped 13 straight in a fourth-quarter stretch that closed off Sacramento’s chances for good.
Jason Kidd, Does Marcus Thornton Know The Plays? “There are plays, he knows them. It’s called, ‘shoot it.'”
Game Grades: Read ’em here.
Pierce, Stung: Paul Pierce has fought a “stinger” in his neck & shoulder area for as long as four years now, and with the increased workload inside at power forward, it’s started to become a real problem for Pierce. He’s had to come out at various points in each of the last three games after getting hit in that area, and last night it took just 73 seconds of game time before Pierce had to rush to the locker room. He may be best served just taking time off if this keeps happening, but if it’s been happening for four years…
My Least Favorite Moment Of The Game:
The Nets are asking fans in the arena to cheer on three fans who are cheering on a race between three CGI subway sandwiches.
— devin kharpertian (@uuords) March 9, 2014
WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS?
Early Going: The Nets played at a near-optimal level: finding cutters for easy baskets, switching on defense so seamlessly it almost looked like a zone, and picking off numerous passes and ill-placed dribbles. They’ve come a long way defending all five guys as a unit, and the way they can pass the ball even without Kevin Garnett is a refreshing development.
Mirza Teletovic pulled out a little Blatcheness in the second quarter. It was outstanding.
My Thoughts At The Half: They should be up by more than this. Don’t let the Kings back into it.
Jason Collins, The Pest: Kings center DeMarcus Cousins put together an incredible all-around game, pouring in 28 points and snaring an additional 20 — yes, 20 — rebounds. But with Jason Collins in the game, Cousins was noticeably subdued on offense, scoring just one put-back layup in the first half with Collins as his primary defender and getting shut out completely during a five-minute stretch in the third quarter. That second stretch was particularly crucial: Collins entered the game with the Kings roaring back and the Nets clinging to a two-point lead, and immediately shut out Sacramento’s best offensive option as the Nets found different ways to score.
Collins only recorded one defensive stat — a steal — but was named the defensive player of the game, and rightfully so.
Who Shot Ya? Was one of the many songs by the Notorious B.I.G. played throughout the night at Barclays Center, 17 years to the day after Biggie was murdered in 1997. Barclays usually plays a smattering of Biggie along with their usual playlist, but it seemed a little more targeted than usual.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say this is the greatest picture of Jason Kidd in the history of basketball.
Historic turnovers: The Nets forced the Kings into 25 turnovers to just 11 assists, marking the sixth straight game they’ve forced a team into more turnovers than assists. It’s the first time they’ve done that for six straight games in their NBA history, and the first time any team has done that since the Detroit Pistons in March 2004.
The Nets new lineups have an incredible combination of length, anticipation, and trust; guards gamble with the knowledge that their big men are behind them in help position should they get caught out of place, and they’re also smart enough to harrow a mercurial player like DeMarcus Cousins into making bad decisions. It’s also why the incredible rebounding disparity (53-27 in a loss! Only one offensive rebound!) didn’t matter.
Speaking of rebounding: The Nets are the 9th team in NBA history to win a game recording one or fewer offensive rebounds, the 10th team in NBA history to win with a rebounding disparity of -26 or greater, and the first team in NBA history to win a game doing both of those things in the same game.
Kirilankle: Nets forward and do-it-all basketball craftsman Andrei Kirilenko stepped on Deron Williams’s foot in the first quarter, twisting his ankle and eventually causing him to leave the game. His status is unclear for Monday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors.
Jason Thompson’s Legs Not Looking Like Legs:
I really don’t care at all that Deron Williams missed the shot. The Nets won in a blowout, Williams had a decent overall night, and he made an opponent look silly. This was just awesome.
Just finished this work! Respect the process…love the results. Now if I can just stop hackin! Smh pic.twitter.com/3ffjVYj0VE
— Shaun Livingston (@ShaunLivingston) March 8, 2014
After one of his worst performances of the season fouling out against the Boston Celtics, Shaun Livingston went through a private workout at Barclays Center’s shootaround court, working on specific facets of his game on what was supposed to be a Nets day off. (The Brooklyn Game reported the workout about an hour before Livingston’s tweet.)
The workout paid off: Livingston followed up his poor performance with a solid all-around game, putting down a couple of fun dunks (like this one) and finishing with 10 points, four assists, three rebounds, and one steal in 25 minutes.
The Fans Remember: Former Nets forward Reggie Evans got a nice ovation from the crowd upon entering the game. Fans in Barclays Center appreciated Evans for his tenacious, hustle-based play and endearing inability to make free throws. Travis Outlaw, on the other hand, got a surprising amount of boos. The Nets amnestied Outlaw before their first year in Brooklyn, but fans apparently still remember Outlaw’s poor shooting and lifeless defense from his time in New Jersey. The Nets are still paying Outlaw $4 million per season through 2015.
Next up: The Nets play a rare home back-to-back, hosting the Toronto Raptors tonight in Brooklyn. The Raptors beat the Timberwolves 111-104 in Minnesota Sunday night, improving to 35-26 on the season. The last time the Nets faced the Raptors, they led wire-to-wire before giving the game away in the final seconds, and this game marks their chance to even up the season series heading into the race for playoff positioning.