Thornton leads way in battle vs. Kings, but Nets lost the war

By Jason Schott - @JESchott19

The Nets blew out the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night 104-89, led by Marcus Thornton, in his first game against his former team. The win was costly, however, as Paul Pierce and Andrei Kirilenko left with injuries.

Thornton had 27 points on 11-for-15 shooting and 5-for-8 from behind the arc. This is his third 20+ point game with the Nets, and he had the same number in 46 games with the Kings, who must have been thinking, 'who is this guy?'

Thornton said of his performance against his former team, "It felt great, the showing we had against Boston, it wasn't us so it was big for us to come out here and play like this. Quick turnaround tomorrow, we'll get ready for Toronto and get that one too."

Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd said of what Thornton has brought to the team, "There are plays, he knows them - it's called 'shoot it.' He reminds me of Eddie House, someone that I played with in the league. Quick release, a threat behind the arc, but can also get to the basket. I think for Marcus, he's played extremely well since the trade and he gives us another weapon offensively. But I think, again, defensively he's been someone that's helped us rebound the ball on both ends." 

Pierce got hurt 1:05 into the game, as Jason Thompson hit his shoulder as he was backing into Pierce for a layup. Pierce was hit in the right upper arm. Kirilenko left in the third with a sprained right ankle. Kidd said of the injuries, "They're both day-to-day, so we'll see how they feel tomorrow."

Kirilenko said of the injury, "Well, I stepped on Deron's foot in the first quarter and felt a little tweak. I thought I could keep going, but obviously it just stopped me. It happened in the first quarter. I don't think it's a serious injury, but it's still tweaked. I still want to take care of it. I assume it's going to be a couple of days." On if he'll play on Monday night against Toronto, he said, "I don't know, we'll see tomorrow (Monday). Usually the next day is a crucial day, so we'll see in the morning how it feels."

Joe Johnson said of the injuries, "It's tough. It's kind of like the tale of our season. We've had some consistency throughout the month of January and February, but it's been tough.

The Nets were in firm control of this game in the first half, as Sacramento played some of the worst basketball I have seen all season. The Nets only led by nine, 49-40, at the half.

Sacramento started the second half strong and tied the game at 57 with 7:39 left on a Rudy Gay jumper. That was the kick in the pants the Nets needed, and they responded with an 8-2 run and had their 12-point lead back at the third, 77-65. Joe Johnson led the way in the third with 11 points and Thotnton had 6 in the frame.

Joe Johnson had 18 points to lead the starters, as he shot 7-for-12 from the field and had 5 assists. Deron Williams had a nice night with 10 points and 7 assists.

The Nets bench accounted for 59 of their 104 points, and Kidd said of Johnson and the bench, "I thought Joe was great, he set the tone in the second half. Playing through him, being aggressive when scoring the ball then also finding open guys. Then, he passed the baton - because he's that type of player - he let Thornton go, and he carried the torch through the third and fourth quarters."

Fan favorite Reggie Evans returned to Brooklyn tonight as a member of the Kings, having been traded along with Jason Terry for Thornton on February 19th. Evans had three points and nine rebounds in 17 minutes.