Big day for Nets as Kidd honored and they beat Sixers

by Jason Schott

Monday was a big day for the Nets, as Head Coach Jason Kidd was named Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for January and they beat the 76ers 108-102 in a very up-and-down game.

Kidd was honored for leading the Nets to a 10-3 record in January and bringing the Nets back into playoff contention after a 10-21 start in the first two months. They had two five-game winning streaks and beat such elite teams as the Miami Heat, Golden State Warriors, and the Oklahoma City Thunder,  who they beat on a Joe Johnson buzzer-beater to open the month on January 2nd, and lost to them on the 31st to close the month, as well as a win over the Dallas Mavericks on the 24th. Their .769 winning percentage is the best in the month of January in the team's 38 NBA seasons.

Kidd made tremendous progress in January and is rewarding General Manager Billy King for the faith he had in him when he was named head coach last June. Of all the moves King made last offseason, this might turn out to be the best one.

Kidd said of the honor before Monday night's game, "It's a great honor for the guys in that locker room because they were playing at a high level and it's a very nice recognition, but it's for the guys that are playing. Those guys are playing very well."

It was a weird game, as the Nets started out firing on all cylinders and led 21-8 in the first quarter, and found themselves trailing 47-42 late in the second quarter. That was when the Nets turned it on and closed the first half on a 12-2 run in the final 2:17 of the first half. It started with a Mirza Teletovic three and Paul Pierce hit five free throws.

The Nets' momentum continued into the third quarter, and they led by as much as 17 when Jason Terry drained a three with 2:37 left to make it 81-64.

Philadelphia had one last run in them, and they opened the fourth quarter on an 11-3 run, capped by a Michael Carter-Williams layup at the 9:36 mark, to cut the Nets' lead to 87-80. The Sixers kept chipping away, and they pulled to within two on a Lavoy Allen jumper with 3:41 left in the game to make it 97-95  Nets.

The Nets responded with a 7-0 run, marked by a Mirza Teletovic layup on a great feed from Deron Williams. MT3 was fouled, so it was a three-point play. Philly got to within two again, at 104-102 on a James Anderson three-pointer with 22 seconds left. Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston hit a couple of free throws each to seal the win.

Three Nets players scored in double figures, with Pierce leading the way with 25 on 5-for-9 shooting and an impressive 14-for-14 from the free-throw line. D-Will had 21 on a mediocre 8-for-19 from the field and six assists. Mirza Teletovic had 20 points off the bench on 7-for-12 shooting and 5-for-9 from behind the arc. Livinsgton also had a strong game, with 13 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, and a remarkable 7 steals.

The Nets won this game without Andrei Kirilenko, out for the third straight game with a sore right calf, Andray Blatche missed his second straight game with a bruised left hip, and Joe Johnson, who sat out Monday night with left knee tendinitis.

Kidd said of the game, "We got the win. That's the biggest thing for the guys that played tonight. We just came out of the gate defensively strong, executed. Then they came on a run, and it was back and forth. We closed the half on a positive run. They made a run in the fourth quarter, a little lapse there. Tomorrow, we'll get better."