The Brooklyn Nets came close to upsetting the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks in Game 2 of their first round series on Wednesday night, but they lost 96-91. Deron Williams’ jumper to tie it late rimmed out, the latest example of their franchise player falling short when it counted. The Nets trail Atlanta 2-0 in the series.
The Nets had the ball trailing 93-91 with 27 seconds left. Jarrett Jack (23 points), Brook Lopez (20 points), and Joe Johnson (19 points) all had big games for the Nets. Alan Anderson, who was also on the floor, had a couple of clutch layups in the fourth. Deron Williams had a pitiful game to this point, committing a turnover just minutes before.
The play began with Johnson getting it to Jack, who then found Williams in the corner. He faked a three, drawing a Hawks defender to fly by, giving him an opening to step in to an open jumper.
It looked good, but of course, it rimmed out. Williams them proceeded to stand there looking at the hoop with this smirk on his face. Wonder what was going through his mind. Maybe “I missed, but I am still getting my $20 million?” Maybe “A couple more losses and I’m finally off for the summer.” Maybe “”I’ve never earned a penny of this contract and that fool Billy King is on the hook for two more years.” Maybe “Why the hell did the ball go to me?”
After the miss, Williams fouled Kyle Korver, who hit a couple of free throws to make it 95-91 Hawks with 8 seconds left. The Nets took a while to get a shot off on their ensuing possession, and Jack put up a three that was blocked by DeMarre Carroll. Kent Bazemore hit a free throw with a second left to give the Hawks their 96-91 win.
Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins switched things up in this game, inserting Bojan Bogdanovic into the starting lineup for Markel Brown, who started 30 straight. The reason this was possible was the return of Mirza Teletovic, who missed exactly three months due to recovery from suffering blood clots during a game at the Los Angeles Clippers on January 22nd.
The effect of Bogdanovic and his awful defense was felt early, as Atlanta jumped out to a 17-7 lead in the early going. Mirza entered the game for Thaddeus Young and, after making a nice defensive play, made an ill-advised pass that was picked off by DeMarre Carroll right in front of Williams and Kyle Korver drained a three to make it 22-13 Atlanta at the 5:30 mark of the first. What was remarkable about the play was Mirza was under the hoop tying his shoe while Korver drained the three. here’s a thought, why not go out and try to block the three? And Deron was next to Mirza, blissfully unaware of Teletovic’s not paying attention to Korver instead of giving it to him like another leader (if you can even call D-Will that) would have. What would KG have done to Mirza in that spot?
Atlanta led 27-15 late in the first when Alan Anderson hit a three to followed by six straight from Jarrett Jack for a 9-2 run to pull the Nets to within 29-24 at the end of the first.
The momentum continued into the second, as the Nets took a six-point lead, at 42-36, on a Joe Johnson jumper at the 5:26 mark. Atlanta responded with a 12-3 run, capped by a jumper and three from Korver, to go up 48-45 with 1:16 until the half. The Hawks took a 50-47 lead into halftime.
In the third, it was back and forth in the first several minutes, and a Joe Johnson jumper gave the Nets a 61-60 lead at the 5:01 mark. The Hawks responded with a 13-4 run, led by eight points from Pero Antic in the span, to open up a 73-65 lead with 1:22 left in the frame. The Hawks took a 75-67 lead into the fourth.
In the fourth, the Hawks started to pull away. Al Horford drained a jumper at the 7:37 mark to make it 84-73, an 11-point lead for the Hawks.
But, just like Game 1, Atlanta could not put the Nets away. They ran many sloppy possessions and the Nets’ offense got hot once again. Lopez made a couple of jumpers, Anderson got a jumper, and Johnson drained a three at the 3:28 mark to pull the Nets back to within four, at 90-86. Jack drained a three at the 1:54 mark to cut it to one, at 90-89.
Al Horford missed a jumper with 1:42 left, so the Nets had a chance to get the lead. After the ball was knocked out of bounds by Atlanta with ‘5’ on the shot clock, the Nets took a timeout, and after they weren’t set up properly, Head Coach Lionel Hollins called another timeout. The result was a play with Johnson driving the lane, but the shot rimmed out with 1:16 left.
Atlanta got their first points since the 3:39 mark when Carroll made a layup with 55 seconds left to make it 92-89 Hawks. Anderson responded with a layup after a run on the baseline to make it 92-91 Hawks with 44 seconds left. Paul Millsap was fouled by Johnson with 28 seconds left, and he made the first free throw to make it 93-91 Hawks. He missed the second one, and Anderson got the rebound, giving the Nets a chance to win it. We know what happens next, as Williams’ open jumper rimmed out.
The Nets were led by Jack, who had 23 points off the bench on a superb 9-for-13 from the field, 2-5 on threes, with 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Lopez had 20 points on 8-for-15 from the field, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Johnson had 19 points on a disappointing 6-for-16 from the field, 3-8 on threes, with 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal. Johnson was a disappointing -18, meaning Atlanta scored 18 more points to the Nets when Johnson was on the floor.
Williams finished with a pathetic 2 points on 1-for-7 from the field, 0-2 on threes, with 10 rebounds and 8 assists. He was -11, but that number was a nearly -20 until the Nets’ comeback at the end.
Game 3 is Saturday afternoon at Barclays Center at 3:00 pm, with Game 4 in Brooklyn Monday night at 7:00 or 8:00 pm. It will be a 7:00 tip if there is a Game 5 in the Milwaukee-Chicago series, which would start at 9:30.