Nets Keep Momentum Going up North

The Nets blew out the Toronto Raptors 109-93 on Wednesday night, avenging a tough overtime loss to the Raptors in Brooklyn last Friday and continuing momentum from their win Monday night over the Clippers. Brooklyn outscored Toronto 60-42 in the second half, completely dominating the Atlantic Division leaders down the stretch.

The Nets turned the past two seasons around with wins on the second of a month, in January in Oklahoma City each time, and this time, it was the second of February in Brooklyn that might just be the spark to drive this team into the playoffs.

The Nets trailed 51-49 at halftime in this one, and started the third quarter with a baseline jumper from Kevin Garnett and a long jumper from Jarrett Jack. Later on, Jack hit a driving layup at the 7:41 mark to tie the game at 55 and that started a 10-2 run capped by a Jack shot that made it 63-57 Nets with 5:35 left in the third. The Nets led by as many as ten, 69-59, on a Alan Anderson three at the 2:46 mark, and took a 76-72 lead into the fourth.

The Nets opened the fourth with Alan Anderson getting fouled on a three, making all three free throw attempts, then he hit a jumper, followed by Jarrett Jack getting fouled behind the arc and also making all three free throws to give the Nets a ten-point lead, 84-74, at the 10:15 mark.

Bojan Bogdanovic hit a three at the 9:45 mark to make it 87-76 Nets, and then hit two in a row to cap off a 12-2 run that made it 101-82 Nets with 5:05 left. The Nets maintained that 19-point lead down the stretch, with Jarrett Jack hitting a jumper to make it 105-86 with 2:15 remaining.

DeMar DeRozan took a technical foul for throwing the ball in the stands after he made a layup with 1:39 left that made it 105-90 Nets. Two possessions later, DeRozan fouled Bogdanovic hard on a fast-break, giving him a hip check, and was given a flagrant foul, his second technical, so he was ejected with 1:01 left. Bogdanovic hit both of his free throws to make it 107-90 Nets.

Brooklyn was led by Jack, who had 24 points on 9-for-13 shooting, including 2-4 on threes, with 6 assists and 4 rebounds. With Deron Williams back in the lineup, Jack played just 36 minutes, a good five to ten less than he has had to play the past month. This kept Jack fresher in this one and it will help him down the stretch.

Alan Anderson, who started once again at shooting guard, had a big night with 23 points on 7-for-9 shooting overall and 3-5 on threes, with 5 rebounds. Joe Johnson had 12 points (4-8 shooting, 1-3 on threes), with 7 assists and a rebound.

Deron Williams, in his second game back from injury, had a nice game with 11 points (4-12 FG, 0-2 threes), 6 assists, and 3 rebounds in 33 minutes.  The Nets are a far stronger team with Williams in there, even in this role coming off the bench and sharing the court with Jack at times.

Bogdanovic had 11 points, as he shot 3-for-5, with all of the makes from behind the arc, and all of his points came in the fourth. Brook Lopez had 8 points (4-14 FG), 4 rebounds, and 2 assists.

The Nets are now 20-28, and face New York at Barclays Center on Friday night. That is a must-win as they cannot lose at home to that dreadful 10-39 team from Manhattan. They face a big test on Saturday night in Washington against the Wizards to start the annual “Circus Road Trip.” Most teams would fear a long road trip at this point of the season, but the Nets, with a good road record of 11-13, should be just fine and remain a part of the fierce race for eighth in the East.

The trade deadline occurs during the road trip, so Friday night might be the last home game for Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, and Joe Johnson, as all three have been acknowledged by General Manager Billy King to be on the trading block.

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