Schott: Nets Not Done Yet

(Jarrett Jack getting a layup – @BrooklynNets on Twitter)

The Brooklyn Nets have had an incredibly tough start to their season, as wins have been hard to come by, but this week has shown there is still a lot of life in this team and are not to be taken lightly.

The Nets started the season 0-7 and walked into Houston and beat the Rockets convincingly 106-98 on November 11.

That started a three-game road trip, in which they then lost by just two points to Sacramento on the 13th and lost in overtime to the unbeaten Golden State Warriors the next night.

With three days off, they returned home and beat the Atlanta Hawks in a hard-fought game, 90-88. They followed that up with a loss to Charlotte before a home-and-home with the Boston Celtics.

Friday night in Boston might have been the Nets’ worst loss of the season, as they lost 120-95. They were thoroughly dominated, and the game was over early, as the Celtics outscored them 43-23 in the second quarter.

Sunday night at Barclays Center was a test of the Nets’ pride, as they would have a chance for revenge against Boston or it would cement their role as one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference.

From the start, it was obvious this would be a different game than the one in Boston, as the nets jumped out to a 5-0 lead on a Brook Lopez put-back dunk, and then Joe Johnson drained a three in transition.

The Nets never relinquished the lead (in the first and ultimately the game), and even when Boston tied it at 19, the Nets responded with a three from Shane Larkin and a dunk from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to take a 24-19 lead into the second quarter.

The Nets got their revenge exactly in the frame that killed them on Friday night, the second quarter.

They outscored Boston 35-23 to blow it open ad give them a 59-42 halftime lead. the 17-point lead at the half was the highest for the Nets this season, far outpacing the prior high of six points, done twice in their first 13 games.

Right in the middle of the second was a six-minute span in which the Nets went on a 26-9 run, and Andrea Bargnani had 10 points in the quarter.

In the third quarter, the Nets maintained a 20-point lead throughout the opening minutes, and led 80-60 on Brook Lopez free throws at the 4:41 mark.

Boston gradually chipped away, cutting it to eight points, 86-78, at the end of the third. When the Nets’ lead was down to four, 90-86, that was a real gut-check time for the Nets.

They passed the test with flying colors and a 6-0 run, with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson getting to the line and he made two free throws; and Jarrett Jack hitting a floating jumper and a pair of free throws to make it a 10-point game, which it was basically for the final six minutes.

Jack said of how they went got what they needed down the stretch, “I was just trying to be aggressive and take advantage of the looks that I got. They would get in the lane and spot some creases and you know, go out there and make a few plays.”

As they showed in this one and last Tuesday against Atlanta, the Nets are a strong fourth quarter team as they pulled away and won it 111-101.

The five on the floor down the stretch, four starters, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, Thaddeus Young, and Jarrett Jack; along with Bojan Bogdanovic, are quite respectable and are too good to not win games. Any thoughts of this being just a 15-win team are not realistic.

The Nets’ starting lineup is too good not to win games, especially with the emergence of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. He had nine points (2-3 FG), seven rebounds, four asssists, and five steals. He has fit in well with the four veterans and is someone the Nets can build around.

Lopez said of how he would describe the response of the team to the loss to Boston the other night, “It was fantastic. We did our thing, though. We were in there at the beginning of the game, but our bench guys came in and were just so great. Rondae did his thing. They really blew the game open for us and it was a contagious effort.”

Lopez said of what allowed the Nets to close out this game after Boston cut it to four, “We just stayed positive. We knew they were going to make a run and that they weren’t going to give up, but we tried to stick with our stuff. We were getting stops even though we didn’t really score, but it’s fantastic that we showed poise. We stayed in the game when early in the season I think we kind of would have crumbled a little. It shows growth.”

Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins said of the win, “It’s really a sweet victory. I thought our guys came out and played extremely well. We took the fight to them early. They missed some shots and we were able to make some shots, and we continued to make shots throughout the course of the game. We didn’t turn the ball over very much, in the first half especially, and we were able to get the big lead. They kept coming, but we showed a lot of poise – we maintained through three quarters. They were attacking and shooting threes, making threes, but we kept coming down and executing and finally we were able to hold them off. We had one little stretch where we turned the ball over, but the last four minutes, I thought, we did a good job of taking care of the ball and getting good shots. We didn’t always make them, but the key is to get shots. Jarrett (Jack) made some big shots, Joe (Johnson) made a big shot and we made free throws. I just thought that we did some good things, and we came away with a win, which was important. I felt like last game was an aberration, and they proved me right tonight.”

Hollins said of bouncing back from Friday’s loss, “I say it every time we lose a tough game: it’s competition. You have to come out the next night and play. That’s the only thing you can do. If you can’t do it or don’t want to do it, then you shouldn’t be in competition. But when you have a bad loss, then you have to go home and look in the mirror and decide to come back, put it behind you and play better.”

Hollins said of Hollis-Jefferson and Young on the defensive end, “Very important. Whenever we get deflections and steals, it gets up in open court. And we had a lot of open court early, and that got us in a flow and a rhythm. It was something that was important. Thad (Young) had the big charge, diving on the floor for loose balls and he got four key rebounds down the stretch. Hustle played really define your team. You can talk about, this guy scores these points, this guy gets all these rebounds, but it’s who makes the plays when they are needed to be made to help you win the game.”


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