Nets host early bird special against Clippers

Will the one-thou-wow shuffle make a return? (AP)
Will the one-thou-wow shuffle make a return? (AP)
Will the one-thou-wow shuffle make a return? (AP)

It wasn’t the most efficient performance, but the Nets (7-15) took care of business Thursday by knocking off the Philadelphia 76ers (1-22) 100-91 at Barclays Center. The Sixers missed their first 14 three point attempts, and with 10 minutes to go in the second quarter, the Nets looked like they were going to cruise as they went up 31-15. The Sixers eventually tied the game, but thanks largely to a bench jolt from Shane Larkin (14 points, six assists) and Andrea Bargnani’s 13 fourth-quarter points (23 total), the Nets prevailed 100-91. Phew!

This afternoon, the Nets welcome in the Los Angeles Clippers (13-10) who are coming off a disappointing loss in Chicago on Thursday. As per the case most of the season, the Clippers failed to show chemistry on the floor, especially from the bench, and shot a dismal 34.1 percent from the field despite losing by only three points (83-80). After Blake Griffin was ejected for a flagrant foul on Taj Gibson, head coach Doc Rivers went to a small lineup that led a fourth-quarter surge that netted eight three-pointers. The unit made up of Wesley Johnson, Austin Rivers, Lance Stephenson, Josh Smith, and Jamal Crawford provided an approach the head coach called “great chaos.”

Doc’s son had some insight into the bench’s contributions.

“We just got to go,” Austin Rivers said. “I think sometimes we try to be too much like the first unit. I know I do sometimes. The past couple of games, we’ve been playing a slower pace – whatever man, we just don’t have that type of unit. We just need to get stops and run. Everyone needs to be in attack mode, shooting, and living with the results. That way, we have an identity.”

Despite their middle-of-the-road record, All-Stars Griffin (24 points, 9 rebounds per game), Chris Paul (16.6 points, 8.4 assists per game), and DeAndre Jordan (13.4 rebounds, 2.5 blocks per game, 68.2 field goal percentage) continue to thrive and should probably have the Clippers in title contention come playoff time.

The Nets may have suffered their worst loss of season to the Clippers last season. On January 22nd, a National TV game on ESPN, the Nets were blindsided and shellacked by the home Clippers: 123-84 after falling behind 70-35 at the half.

Just eleven days later on February 2nd, the Nets got their revenge beating the Clippers 102-100, sealed by a Jarrett Jack’s tiebreaking jumper with only 1.3 seconds on the clock. It was the Nets’ seventh straight win at home against the Clippers who shot 8-of-25 (.320) from the free throw line, marking the worst FT% in a game against the Nets in franchise history (min. 25 attempts).

What to watch for: Thad Young at the four spot. With his 18 point, 11 rebound performance on Thursday, Thaddeus Young is now sixth in the NBA in double-doubles with 11, including 10 in his last 13 games; he had three (!) all last season. Young is also third in the NBA in points in the paint per game (12.3), and tied for 11th in field goal percentage (52.8).

The ninth-year power forward has thrived inside after taking way too many deep perimeter shots the past two seasons. So far this season, Young has shot 60.4 percent from between 3 and 10 feet, compared to 42.9 percent for his career. He’s also on pace for just 42 three point attempts, down from 111 and 292 the past two seasons.

Tip-off is at 5:00 EDT at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.