Nets cap grueling stretch with blowout win
The Nets looked to have a big challenge coming into Saturday night's showdown with the Kings. Both teams had won four of five games and played the night before, but the Nets are currently dinged up and were finishing a stretch in which they played nine games in 14 days. And even though the Kings entered 3-13 on the road, they were winners of their last two.
That challenge really never came to pass, however, as the Nets controlled the game throughout. In the first quarter both squads traded buckets en route to a 36-31 Nets lead, but in the second Brooklyn’s bench unit came on and made things much more one-sided.
“The bench did exactly what we needed them to do,” P.J. Carlesimo said after the game. “They gave us minutes and production. They're really the ones that broke the game open. The bench group in the second quarter just blew it open with a great defensive effort. We stretched out their minutes because they were going so well. We got 50 off the bench. That's Mirza's second really encouraging performance in a row. Blatche has had his second in a row, and MarShon has played really well for us.”
The second unit, with monster performances from the aforementioned Brooks, Blatche and Teletovic, looks like a formidable group right now, even with injuries to key members of the team. Brooks looks to be shaping back into form and is becoming a key option off the bench. Blatche had another stellar performance, playing a big role in a Nets victory on back-to-back nights and adding yet another double-double – he logged 15 points and 11 rebounds. Teletovic added a career-high 14 points and reached double digits for the first time in his brief 18-game NBA career. The bench production was especially important playing one night after a double-overtime victory against the Wizards.
In fact, the Nets’ rotation of starters and bench players built up an 18-point lead at the half, shooting a ridiculous 67.5 percent from the floor, the third highest percentage in a half for any team in the NBA all season.
From there the Nets kept their foot on the gas, which is something they had a problem with earlier this season. The win was dominating and convincing, as they sliced and diced up a hot Kings team to continue their winning ways under Carlesimo.
Once again Brook Lopez had a stellar night, going up against the Kings’ best player, DeMarcus Cousins, in a matchup of dominant big men. Lopez scored 18 points and grabbed five boards in just over 16 minutes, and while Cousins put up his sixth consecutive double-double with 28 points and 11 boards, that performance was not enough for Sacramento. Combining Blatche's performance with Lopez’s, the Nets not only matched Cousins' big night, but they surpassed it. Add in Reggie Evans’ 12 boards, and the Nets played a solid game in the middle with 21 offensive boards and 51 rebounds overall.
Deron Williams also seems to be rounding back into form, putting up another nice night while controlling the tempo of the game from the start. Williams gave the Nets 15 points, seven assists and six boards in a game in which playing time was spread out amongst almost all who dressed.
Joe Johnson continued his solid play under Carlesimo, going 3-for-7 from 3-point range and scoring 15 points.
“I just felt we played very, very well,” Carlesimo added. “We had guys who played big minutes last night (Friday) who were clearly tired in that stretch we talked about -- nine games in 14 days. They came in with a good attitude, like not feeling sorry for themselves, and they came out and played. All those guys to come in and play the way they played is significant.”
In the end, the Nets improved to 19-15 on the season with a big-time, 113-93 victory that keeps their recent momentum on their side. The big stretch of games in a short span is now complete, and rest is just what this team needs. Carlesimo is now 5-1 with a team that just looks to be playing at the high level it was playing at when it started the season 11-4.