Way back in November, the Nets flew into Sacramento, fresh off their first win of the season against Houston. They had started 0-7, and were looking to trigger a win streak against the Kings, who had similarly started the season poorly. However, despite many opportunities to put away the game, they fell behind in the final minutes, left in the dust after a monstrous game from DeMarcus Cousins.
Yesterday they hoped to split the season series with the Western Conference team, and this time in Brooklyn.
The first quarter started as many Nets games do, as Brooklyn fell behind by as many as seven, causing the crowd to slump into their chairs and prepare for another two hours of disappointment.
But by the eighth minute of the period, something clicked. The Kings’ league-worst perimeter defense was actually smartly exploited by the Nets - who have the third fewest three point attempts in the league. Smart passing lead to a three by Bogdanovic (again, I reiterate, he should exist in this league solely as a three-point specialist), followed by two straight Johnson threes, and a beautiful play for another Bogdanovic three. The Nets ended the first quarter on a 12-2 run and made 6-of-7 threes.
1st Bogdanovic three:
Joe Johnson jab-step and three:
Beautiful pass from Thad for a JJ three:
Johnson with the pretty assist:
The Nets lead quickly evaporated as Bargnani and Ellington checked in in the second, and Boogie went off. But Joe wasn’t fading away, and earned himself two more threes for a total of 20 first half points. See guys, I told you. It’s best to trust in him - especially as he looks to improve his value going into likely his final pay-day.
While Sacramento have the league’s worst defense, the Nets don’t fare much better (Sacramento give up 5 more points per 100 possessions than the Nets, but Sacramento’s fast paced offense makes up for this much more than the Nets’ offense can), and gave up plenty of Rondo-driven dazzlers:
But Johnson matched that passing, with a series of fantastic assists, and gave us all a glimpse of what makes him a seven-time All-Star:
The Nets played solidly in the third, increasing their lead to 18 with 12 from point guard Sloan, and reached the 100-point mark with over a minute left in the third quarter. This was the most points made by the Nets through three quarters since November 11th 2000 in a game against the Supersonics. The Nets average just 96 points per game this season.
And suddenly, the Nets tasted blood. Just as they had against the Thunder in their last win, they began playing hard. Their defense improved, and even Bargnani got a good block in:
By the fourth quarter, the game was all but over, and the Nets had secured their most convincing win of the season. They made 18 threes - a stark contrast from the 5.9 they average per game. Youssef said it best in our podcast this week - teams game-plan for Lopez, which should open up opportunities on the perimeter. The Nets should be looking to attempt threes the way they did in this game going forward.