Nets go back-to-back, keep January mojo going
By Jason Schott
The Nets keep their January momentum going, as they won back-to-back games for the first time all season, and in dominant fashion, as they used a big third quarter to beat the Magic 101-90 on Tuesday night.
The biggest thing on this snowy night was the attendance, which was close to the announced 15, 482, a testament to the support of the fans in Brooklyn.
Paul Pierce said of winning back-to-back games, "It's good. It's a sign we're showing consistency with what we're trying to do around here. Not only win, but win pretty convincingly turning it on in the third quarter with the defense, great moving the ball. So that's what we want. That's all he (Jason Kidd) wants out of us, night in, night out, is consistent effort and that's what we're trying to do especially in back-to-backs."
The Nets have now won eight of nine games and are as close to .500 as they have been in a while. They are now 18-22, just two games behind the Toronto Raptors in the Atlantic Division. To look a little ahead, the Raptors come to Brooklyn next Monday night and the division lead could be on the line. The way it's going, once the Nets get first, there's no looking back.
The first half was pretty tight, with the Nets clinging to a two-point lead for most of the second quarter. Joe Johnson hit a big jumper from the top of the key with 1.9 seconds left in the second to make it 46-42 Brooklyn at the half.
The momentum from that basket carried over into the second half, as Johnson hit a three-pointer to open the third. They went on an 18-6 run over the first seven minutes of the third capped by a Paul Pierce three to make it 64-48. Pierce hit another three a minute later to give them a 17-point lead. The Nets outscored the Magic 27-14 in the third, and the troubles the Nets had in the third earlier this season are a distant memory.
Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd said of the key to the third quarter, "Defense - the whole night. We probably, as a whole, felt our offense was going like it has been, and the defense stepped up."
Magic Head Coach Jacque Vaughn said of the third quarter, "Well that was the difference in the game, the third quarter, their approach, the way they came out, they hit us first, and we didn't have an answer. We just have to be better coming out of halftime, we just have to...be better."
The Nets' biggest lead was 21 points, at 77-56 a minute into the fourth when Andray Blatche hit a couple of free throws. That was part of a team-leading 18-point performance for Blatche. He shot 6-for-11 and had 5 rebounds and 6 assists.
Kidd said of Blatche's play in the last three games, "He's been big, not just offensively, but defensively, he's been big. He's playing at a high level, the bench is playing at a high level, and the starters are playing at a high level. It's great to see the guys - the whole team - playing well."
Mirza Teletovic had 14 points, as he shot 5-for-10 overall and 4-for-8 from behind the arc, continuing to cement his role in the rotation. . Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson had 13 each on a night when the Nets' scoring was very balanced. To round out the starting lineup, Kevin Garnett and Shaun Livingston had 8 points each, and Alan Anderson had 7.