The Minute That Could Change the Nets’ Season

The Nets pulled off an incredible, improbable comeback win on Monday night at Barclays Center, as they erased an eight-point deficit in the final minute to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 102-100.

The Nets, 19-28 with the win, had lose 12 of 14 games entering this one, and this was their first win at Barclays Center since December 29th. They have lost many tough games in the past month, including their prior game, a heartbreaker in overtime on Friday to the Toronto Raptors. The fact that they won a tight game against an elite opponent could be the spark they need as they battle for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. This starts a big week as Brooklyn has a rematch with the Raptors in Toronto Wednesday, host New York on Friday and travel to Washington to take on the Wizards on Saturday night.

The Clippers looked like they had the game in hand when DeAndre Jordan got a put-back layup off a Chris Paul miss to make it 98-90 with 1:11 left.

Deron Williams, in his first action since January 7th, hit a quick three with 1:05 left to make it 98-93 Los Angeles.

The Clippers raced to the other end, and Blake Griffin looked set for a highlight-reel dunk when Brook Lopez caught up to Griffin and fouled him on the right arm, preventing him from getting the shot off. That was huge, as Brook kept two points off the board. Griffin missed his two free throws, so it stayed a five-point game.

Joe Johnson got the rebound off Griffin’s second miss and dribbled up court, and he bumped into Matt Barnes crossing the center-court line, and Barnes was called for a foul. The Clippers’ bench, led by Head Coach Doc Rivers, was incensed at the call, as it easily could have gone against Johnson for pushing off.

Johnson went to the line with 53.0 seconds left and he missed the first free throw attempt, which drew a groan from the crowd. He missed the second one as well, but Lopez got the rebound, tipped it out to Johnson and he stepped back and drained a three that made it a two-point game, 98-96, with 48.1 seconds left.

The Clippers looked stunned that this had gotten so close so fast, and their ensuing possession was disjointed, and it ended with Chris Paul missing a long jumper with 24.7 seconds left. Jarrett Jack got the rebound and called timeout with 23.4 seconds left.

Coming out of the timeout, Jack found Alan Anderson open in the corner for a three, which Anderson made, and he was fouled by Blake Griffin. This was Griffin’s sixth foul, so he fouled out of the game, a major blow to the Clippers. Anderson made the free throw to complete the four-point play and the Nets led 100-98 with 15.3 seconds left.

The Clippers wasted no time on their next possession as Chris Paul got the inbounds and raced down the lane for a layup to tie the game at 100 with 8.6 seconds left.

Jarrett Jack did much the same thing when the Nets got the ball, as he got it at the top of the key, drove to the left of the free throw line and buried a jumper with 1.3 seconds left to give the Nets a 102-100 lead and send Barclays Center into a frenzy.

The Clippers were so stunned by the turn of events that the game ended with them unable to get a shot off. Spencer Hawes could not handle the inbounds pass and it bounced around as time expired.

Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins said of the Nets’ composure, being able to stay calm as they made the frantic comeback in the final minute, “They have been playing a lot of games. I am not talking about wit us, but they have all been in big games. That is part of basketball, part of competition. If you look an go back to the Super Bowl yesterday, it’s just like when you get to those moments, the focus is higher because the competitors want to win. It is not about the crowd, it is not about whether you are going to lose, you just play. I always prefer close games as a player because you can focus better and because you are trying to do your job, whereas when the game is a little bit loose, you can lose focus.”

Hollins said of what changed to created the 12-2 comeback to close the game, “I just think we kept competing, we kept competing and we just made some big shots. We made 12 threes tonight, we haven’t made that many threes in a long time. I just think we kept battling, kept battling and they start off the game not shooting very well, meaning the Clippers, and then they kind of ended the game the same way. In the middle of the game they made a lot of shots. We made big plays.”

On how this win affects the Nets’ mentality, Hollins said, “I thank God for the fact that they did win, because I am proud of them, the way we started playing, and to get rewarded is always important in these situations. Our spirit has come back, and we are scrapping, scratching, and clawing. We got a win. We made big shots. Joe (Johnson) missed the two free throws, Brook (Lopez) tipped it back out, Joe shoots a three five feet behind the three-point line – bam! And then we penetrate, throw the ball to Alan (Anderson), he hits a three and gets fouled. That’s a huge play, that’s four points. We got seven points out of two possessions so that will make up an 11-point deficit real quick. We got some stops, we tried to go small and that hurt them a little bit, but in the second half we couldn’t make any shots while we were small, and they kept scoring so I tried to change up and go big.”

On Jarrett Jack hitting a big shot, “In competition, it doesn’t matter what you are doing during the course of the game, there are people that make shots as I have said before in the beginning of the game, and there are people that make shots in the middle of the game, and then there are people that make shots when they count. They are all needed, but at the end you need somebody to be willing to step up, and shoot the ball. We ran the play before and scored and that is how we had the three-pointer, and then we ran it again. I was deciding to go between Joe and Jarrett (Jack), and I decided that they were probably going to trap Joe, so I figure that they would just play a little bit more normal, and they did, except they switched, and Jarrett was able to back of Jordan and make the shot.”

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