New-look Nets keep rolling, dethrone Kings

The Nets got a nice bounce-back from Saturday night’s setback against Indiana, with a 107-99 win over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night at Barclays Center. The Nets have now won four out of five to improve to 14-16, and have a big one on Tuesday night in Chicago against the Bulls.

Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins continues to stick with the new starting lineup of center Mason Plumlee, power forward Kevin Garnett, small forward Joe Johnson, shooting guard Sergey Kerasev, and point guard Jarrett Jack, and it paid dividends tonight.

The Nets were led by Plumlee, who had 22 points, as he shot 6-for-7 from the field and made 10 of 16 free throw attempts, with 4 rebounds and an assist. Plumlee said of the rhythm he is in, “I feel a really good rhythm. I think that whole group with Jack, Joe, and Kevin and Mirza (Teletovic) has a great rhythm, and things come easy when you’re in unison. Guys are really setting me up well.”

Jack continues to put up nice numbers, with 16 points (4-12 FG, 1-1 on 3-pointers), 2 assists, and 3 rebounds. Karasev had 5 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. Johnson had 16 points on 6-for-13 from the field and 2-for-6 on threes, with 6 assists and 2 rebounds.

Garnett had a big night with 10 points (5-10 FG), 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and a season-high 4 steals. KG had an alley-oop in the game, and Hollins said of that and the fact he’s 38 years old, “He’s seven foot tall, so I would expect him to be able to dunk. He’ll be dunking when he’s 68.” KG said of the dunk, “Oh, stop it, are you serious? I know I’m like 150 years…I can actually dunk the ball. Damn, do I look that bad out there? I start in the NBA. I’m hoping I can dunk. You can’t start in the league if you can’t dunk. I was in the moment. I keep myself in good shape. Y’all just haters right now.”

The Nets trailed 28-27 after the first quarter and turned it on in the second, outscoring Sacramento 30-16, led by 21 points from the bench, with Mirza Teletovic and Brook Lopez getting 5 each. The Nets took a 57-44 lead into halftime.

Each team scored 25 points in the third, so the Nets took an 82-69 lead into the fourth. They went up 15, at 91-76, on a Joe Johnson three with 8:28 left in the fourth. The Kings were not done yet, as they went on a 12-2 run and pulled to within five, at 93-88, on a Rudy Gay three with 5:12 left.

Hollins did something that is still taking some getting used to, as he pulled Deron Williams for Jack at this point, so the five on the floor at the end were Jack, Kerasev, Plumlee, Johnson, and Mirza Teletovic.

The Nets took the game over soon after, as Teletovic hit back-to-back threes (part of a 4-11 night from the field), and Plumlee had an alley-oop on a feed from Johnson and a dunk to make it 103-92 Nets with 2:54 left. The Kings got as close as six points, at 103-97, with 43 seconds left, but Jack made one of two free throws with 22 seconds left to make it 107-97 Nets and that sealed the win.

Hollins said of the chemistry the team has, “With the whole team, the chemistry is much better. With different units it’s not as important as with the whole team and I’ve been thinking that for a while. I go back to all the way when we went to New York and played the Knicks in Manhattan (on December 2nd); it’s been coming and you can see it growing and growing. They are playing for each other and they are playing a lot harder for each other and playing together for each other.”

Brook Lopez had 11 points (5-10 FG) and 6 rebounds in 12 minutes and Deron Williams had 6 points (2-6 FG, 0-2 on threes) with 3 assists in 17 minutes. Lopez said of his performance, “I wasn’t too pleased with my defense, but it’s coming around. The team is just playing so well together from top to bottom with everyone out on the floor. We just have to keep improving as a unit.” Lopez said of coming off the bench, “It’s not that different. I just try to come in and be the same player that I always am.”

On Lopez and Williams coming off the bench and starting to play better, Hollins said, “This is the Brooklyn Nets. Yes, they were starters, they’ve been out and if you note, while they were out we started playing better and winning so why would I go back and change the lineup for now? I would hope that they would play better and they did. Hopefully they will continue to play well and maybe we will have a good mix of starters and bench. Before, we didn’t have a good mix so hopefully this will help us out. Both of those guys are accepting their roles and are helping us win and that’s what this business is all about.”

Sacramento Kings Head Coach Tyrone Corbin said of the game, and highlighted one stat that hurt his team, “21 turnovers and you give up 25 points in a tight game. There were a couple of costly ones in that second half. I think we turned the ball over ten times in the second half and gave up eleven points off of those. It was a game we fought back and cut it to five, but Brooklyn made two big three’s in an 8-2 run and that hurt us. It was breakdowns and defensive rotations. We were trying to keep guys out of the paint and we did a pretty good job only giving up 38 points (in the paint). There were a couple of costly mistakes in that 8-2 run that opened up the game for Brooklyn. They sent a lot of guys at DeMarcus Cousins and they pushed him off the block a little bit. We weren’t patient enough to get it in there and we went the other way. We always want to try to get him the ball on the block, but Brooklyn denied it and we weren’t able to get it to him up close.”

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