The Nets are Back! Score big win over Miami
By Jason Schott
The Brooklyn Nets continue to get big victories, and the latest was on Friday night at Barclays Center, as they beat the Miami Heat 104-95 in double overtime.
This is the Nets' fifth straight victory, and it caps a week since the start of 2014 in which they have beaten Oklahoma City, Golden State, and Miami. This week practically wipes away the memory of a dismal two months to open the season. There is no question, the Nets are back.
Joe Johnson says of the team's confidence, "It's very high at this point, and that's where we want to keep it. We just have to stay focused, put this win behind us and prepare for Toronto. They're playing well, so we will have our work cut out for us." The Nets play the Raptors in Toronto before heading to London next week for their game across the pond with the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday.
Shaun Livingston, also known as S Dot, which was on the back of his uniform on Friday's Nickname Night, was the key to the Nets' victory with his tremendous performance in the overtime periods.
Livingston had the assignment of guarding LeBron James in overtime because Andrei Kirilenko, who did a superb job on James throughout the fourth quarter was pulled at the end of regulation.
Livingston was guarding James at the top of the key with the Nets up 93-91 in the final minute. James backed in on Lilvingston toward the lane, and he lowered the shoulder and then raised his elbow into Livingston, forcing him to the ground. This was James' sixth foul, resulting in a rare fouling out which sent the crowd into a frenzy. Even Nets Coach Jason Kidd jumped up when the play happened, and said of his reaction, "That was on accident. I was excited. I was into the game."
In fairness to James, if Kirilenko were guarding him, he probably gets away with it. When he raised his elbow into Livingston as he backed in, it was approximtely where "Brooklyn" is across the front of the uniform. If he did the same move to Kirililenko, and he probably did, it would have been far lower on Kirilenko's chest, and probably would not have knocked it down, so no foul would have been called.
Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd said of the play, "Shaun's IQ is extremely high, he does it all and we've asked him defensively to guard everybody. For him to be in the right place at the right time, that was a big defensive stop. We can talk about offense but our defense has helped us win these past five games."
James finished with a team-leading 36 points on 12-for-21 shooting. He also got into a scuffle with Mirza Teletovic early in the fourth quarter when Teletovic wrapped his arm around his head on a foul.
Even with James out, the Heat tied it when Norris Cole hit a long jumper to tie the game at 93 with three seconds left to send the game to double overtime.
The second overtime was all Livington and all Nets, as they dominated. Livingston made a jumper to give the Nets the lead 40 seconds in, and followed that up with a block of a Norris Cole layup at the 3:18 mark. He then blocked a Ray Allen shot with 1:47 left.
Livingston was not done, as he did a sweet spin move around Norris Cole on his way to a dunk to give the Nets a 104-93 lead with 1:27 left.
The Nets nearly shut out the Heat in the second overtime, but J. Shuttlesworth, the nickname Ray Allen had on the back of his uniform in ode to his "He Got Game" character. Allen had a key basket with 16 seconds remaining in the double overtime.
Livingston has done a tremendous job in the starting lineup at point guard for the injured Deron Williams, and tonight, S Dot had 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists in 51 minutes. Kidd said of Livingston's performance, "I think his poise, Shaun was great down the stretch, getting guys in position and executing the call. He's done it all for us since training camp and it showed tonight in this game."
Joe Johnson, who had JJ on the back of his Nickname jersey, led the way for the Nets with 32 points on 14-25 shooting, and he had 22 of those in a first quarter to remember. The 22 points were the most Johnson has had in the first quarter in his career. It is the second time a Net has scored 20 or more in a quarter, with the first instance being Johnson on December 16th against Philadelphia when he had 29 in the third quarter. It is the third straight game Johnson has scored 20 or more points, his first time doing that as a Net. It is the third time this season that he has scored 30 or more points.
Johnson said of his first quarter performance, "First, my body was feeling good, and I just came out trying to be aggressive, not just on offense, but on defense as well. I was really trying to get to the basket, I got a couple of post-ups, and the three-point line just opened up a little bit and I made a couple of threes. For the most part, I thought my teammates did a great job making plays and kicking it and just being in the right place at the right time."