Nets Postgame Notebook: 101 ways to beat the HeatBrooklyn wins first game of 2013-14, snapping lengthy losing streak to Miami
Four-plus years, a handful of head and/or interim head coaches, and two home bases later, the Nets finally snapped a 13-game skid against Miami Friday night, holding on at the end of a raucous fourth quarter to beat the Heat 101-100 in their 2013-14 home opener at Barclays Center.
It seemed like a game that the Nets of 2012-13 might have squandered down the stretch, but as the saying goes, this year's team bent but didn't break and never lost what was a lead as big as 12 with just under three minutes to go.
"Determination…I think we wanted this more. No disrespect to the champs and what they're trying to do this year," Garnett said, "but we knew playing at home, we had to play better. We watched a lot of film and saw mistakes, and we played with that in mind and balled for four quarters. We played strong and played until the end."
"Like we talked about before the game, this is a great team and you know they're going to make a run. They made some tough shots, so you give them a lot of credit," acting head coach Joe Prunty added.
But as Prunty noted, regardless of the situation, it still ends up as a one-point win in the books.
"If we're up 93-82 with four minutes left and they make their run and we win by one, you say okay. But if it were a different scenario and we hit a shot at the buzzer to win, people might say 'oh, it's a different feel'," Prunty said. "But, the reality is, it's a one-point win, and every possession matters, no matter what games it is and when it's played, and we played for 48 minutes."
One of the things that carried the Nets through the whole game was their depth, and specifically Prunty's use of it. Only one Net played more than 28 minutes, that being Paul Pierce, and of the 11 Nets who saw action, 10 played at least 12 minutes and all of those saw anywhere between four and 11 shots - a fairly even distribution across the board.
"We're sharing the ball. You can't play defense on everybody, and we have a lot of first option guys who have led teams, so we know our strength is in numbers," Garnett said.
"The ball movement was good…we had 21 assists, so we're doing a good job of sharing the ball," Prunty added. "There were times where we got a little stagnant, but ball reversal and creating open shots and making plays is really important. Our shot distribution was pretty darn good for us."
Pierce and Joe Johnson led the team with 19 points apiece, but as Prunty and several players noted, you can look at the contributions of everyone - from Deron Williams, who had eight points and eight assists, down to a bench that shot nearly 50 percent on 25 attempts - as equally impressive.
"The bench was great," said Brook Lopez, who quietly had 13 points and six rebounds. "We're so deep, and I totally trust those guys whenever they go in."
"We've got a lot of guys with high IQs who can really score the basketball," added Joe Johnson. "All we have to do is come out and execute and we'll be okay."
The acting head coach also said the game was a "tale of two halves," although the halves were the odd and even quarters. The Nets held down those odd numbers and Pierce was notably the catalyst in a third quarter that saw Brooklyn outscore Miami by 11 points, as he had 11 of his 19 and three assists in the frame. If Brooklyn fans can glean one thing from that quarter, Garnett said, it's that they can expect a lot of that from "The Truth."
"First thing I told these guys is that it's going to be a pleasure to watch (Pierce) every night; I call him Picasso, because he's a beautiful painting that I get to watch every night," Garnett said. "It's more than a pleasure to be not only his friend, but his teammate and watch him do his thing. He carried us in that stretch, and when we needed a bucket, he got it."
There are a lot of intangibles (and tangibles too) that many think Pierce and Garnett will bring to the Nets this year, but as Prunty noted postgame, sometimes, it's tangible things the naked eye might not see that measure their true impact.
"(Pierce and Garnett) are great. They're locked in to what we're trying to do," the acting coach said. "KG is always talking to the guys, motivation and tactical, and Paul is the same way. If they see something, they communicate, and we are a very good communicating team across the board."
"We've got some championship caliber guys who've brought a great attitude here to Brooklyn," Johnson added, "and we're just feeding off of it and having fun."
Friday's fun ended with the Nets earning perhaps their biggest win in years, and to do it at Barclays Center on opening night made it even sweeter for Garnett.
"Home is where your heart is, and we had to go out and stand on the cement and hold it down. We're fighting for home court like every other team, and it starts here," Garnett said. "(The crowd) was electric man. The energy in here is incredible. Obviously I'm coming from Beantown and there's a lot of energy in that city, but Brooklyn…big ups to Brooklyn, straight up. It's going to be a pleasure playing here."
And as Prunty posited, the Nets team everyone saw tonight may not even be close to the finished product.
"We're still learning. We're learning ourselves, learning our team, learning our system," Prunty said. "This is Game 2, and there's 80 more to go. We're going to get better and guys are going to get more comfortable with one another, but we like what we see so far."