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Here’s another look at last night’s Nets going Nets.
What happened: The Nets staved off a late run from the Atlanta Hawks and earned a 91-86 victory, getting some key plays down the stretch from Mirza Teletovic, Shaun Livingston, and Joe Johnson. The Nets have now won three straight games.
Brooklyn Nets undefeated update: The Nets are undefeated in 2014 and undefeated when Jason Kidd does not wear a tie.
Where they stand: The victory puts the Nets at 13-21, one game behind the Detroit Pistons for eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and four games behind the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors.
Missing the point: After playing against two teams missing their star point guards (the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving), the Nets unfortunately fell to the same fate, losing Deron Williams to a left ankle sprain. It’s D-Will’s third left ankle sprain this year alone.
Though the Nets won and the injury’s severity is unclear, it’s another potentially crushing blow to a franchise that’s currently been eviscerated in nearly every which way already this season.
A new new new new new new new new new new new new new new new starting lineup: With Williams out, Shaun Livingston, Alan Anderson, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett started for the Nets, their 16th different starting lineup in 33 games. They outscored the Hawks 27-12 in 11 minutes together. So that’s good.
Shaun Livingston Doing Things, Part I:
Every time Shaun Livingston does something cool, it makes the NBA world a little brighter. With the Nets struggling down the stretch, Shaun Livingston turned defense into offense, snaring a steal and driving the length of the court for the one-handed slam. Livingston finished the game 6-11 from the field, with 12 points, five rebounds, three steals, and a block. (See below.)
Joe Cool: Joe Johnson took over for a major stretch of the fourth quarter, for better and for worse. He hit some pretty shots, but also took a few stinkers, ending the Iso-Joe stretch with a bad turnover that led to a fast-break bucket for Atlanta. But with the game on the line, Joe Cool stepped up to the free throw line, knocking down his only two free throws on the night to ice the game. Johnson finished with 23 points on 10-22 shooting, adding four assists.
Kevin Garnett called Joe Johnson "Joe Jesus, because he might not be there when you call on him but he's there when you need him."
— Andy Vasquez (@andy_vasquez) January 7, 2014
Shaun Livingston Doing Things, Part II:
WHO IS KYLE KORVER
Jason Kidd suit update: Casual. Kidd went tieless for the third straight game, electing to wear a striped light gray suit and a white-and-blue checkered shirt. Kidd may set fire to his tie collection.
Paint Job: With the team struggling from beyond the arc, the Nets got most of their looks out of the paint, either with post-up looks or drives around defenders biting on shot fakes. The Nets outscored the Hawks 30-12 in the paint in the first 31 minutes of the game, before the Hawks made a late run and the Nets started hitting threes.
Kirilincredible: Andrei Kirilenko paced the Nets in the first half with a dizzying array of wildly controlled plays. (Watch the highlights here.) Kirilenko plays like no other Nets player; his length and basketball IQ allowed him to throw sneaky passes, deflect others, defend multiple players, put in a tip-in, and draw fouls. He was everywhere, and the game changes drastically with his presence. His ball movement was infectious. Maybe his defense will follow?
Andray Blatche got hit with a deflected pass in the face, causing a nosebleed that he somehow decided would be solved by stuffing 30 Kleenex into his nose. He later traded in the bloody Kleenex for a nose plug like a normal person, but it’s just another reminder that Andray Blatche marches to the beat of his own nostrils.
My thoughts at the half (Nets down, 52-46): You got to make your free throws. And everything else. If the Nets don’t start hitting threes this one is toast.
Third Quarter: Well, this is a change: the Nets held the Hawks to just 15 points, the lowest they’ve allowed in a third quarter all season. Mirza Teletovic and Alan Anderson both made multiple three-pointers. Andrei Kirilenko deflected just about everything in his wingspan warpath. The Nets turned a six-point deficit into a five-point lead.
FEARZA: You in?
The last shot was the game-clincher: a perfect corner three that put the Nets up 5 with under a minute left. He loves this. Teletovic looked like he was smiling as he shot.
— The Brooklyn Game (@TheBKGame) January 7, 2014
Hey fans in the crowd, do you like Reggie Evans?
Unfortunately, Evans played basketball like he’d just learned it in the team shootaround; he improperly defended the pick-and-roll, threw a pass into the backcourt after an offensive rebound, and let another rebound slip out of his hands without any help. Other than some solid rebounding moments (as always), not a great showing.
Still the greatest beard in the Eastern Conference.
Former home coming: The Hawks are Joe Johnson’s former stomping grounds; he spent seven years in Atlanta, earning six All-Star appearances and scoring 10,606 points in 508 games with the Hawks franchise. Fun fact: No player the Nets traded for Johnson is still on the Hawks. (Their 2013 draft pick, Shane Larkin, is on the team, but they traded the pick, not Larkin.)
Ian Eagle Out Of Context: “I thought about going pre-dental.”
Donny Marshall, taking an unprompted shot at LeBron James: In an effort to compliment Andrei Kirilenko, Donny threw shade at LeBron James, all but calling him a flopper on the team’s broadcast. (Watch it here.) When you’re the King, shots come to the throne.
Shot Chart Rorschach Test: Mirza Teletovic. A diagonal view of a traffic night that someone’s shot the green light out of.
As Fearza as it gets.
Don’t sleep on: How almost every rotation player has the size and strength to set screens on any defender… Shaun Livingston as tiny Andrei Kirilenko … Kirilenko getting kneed in the face and not blinking… Alan Anderson maybe getting it one day and realizing his NBA fate as super-Keith Bogans… Paul Pierce at the 4, but maybe off the bench.
THREE IN A ROW!! BRING ON THE WARRIORS!!! BUT DON'T BRING A TIE!!! #Nets
— Gander (@GanderRo14) January 7, 2014
Next up: Brooklyn’s in the middle of a four-game homestand, with two more games at home this week. Next up is the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, currently in the midst of revolutionizing basketball with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson shooting a record number of threes.