(Donald Sloan – @BrooklynNets)
What a difference a few days makes for the Brooklyn Nets.
On Sunday, they hit rock bottom against the Minnesota Timberwolves, who did whatever they wanted at Barclays Center on their way to a 100-85 victory.
The Nets showed a lot of resolve as they went to Chicago on Monday night, and held on down the stretch for a 105-102 victory over the Bulls.
They came back to Barclays Center on Wednesday night, and kept the momentum going against the Dallas Mavericks.
Dallas shot the lights out in the first half, as they made 24 out of 34 shot attempts, or 70.6 percent, to take a 64-53 lead at halftime.
The Nets came out firing in the third quarter, possibly their best of the season. Joe Johnson and Thaddeus Young had 10 points each to help the Nets outscore Dallas 34-17 in the frame to take an 87-81 lead into the fourth.
The game went down to the wire, as Dallas came back form a seven-point deficit in the fourth and J.J. Barea completed a three-point play to give them a 108-105 lead with 12.4 seconds left in the game.
The ball went to Thaddeus Young on the Nets’ possession, and he drained a three to tie it at 108 with 6.3 seconds left. The Mavericks’ ensuing possession was muddled, and Barea missed an off-balance shot he was lucky to get off, sending the game into overtime.
The overtime went back-and-forth, and it was Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki who gave them a 119-118 lead with 19 seconds left when he made a layup.
After Dallas used a foul to give, the Nets had 10 seconds to win it, and the ball went to Jarrett Jack, just as it did a lot of big moments last season. (Not many games this season have gone to the last shot.)
Jack took it along the right side of the court and missed a fadeaway after getting a clean look.
Even though the Nets lost this one to the Mavericks, this was a game they could build upon. They shot 51.1 percent from the field, and go balances scoring, as Young had 27 points, Bojan Bogdanovic had 17, Joe Johnson 13, Brook Lopez 11.
The Nets are also getting a lot out of their bench Andrea Bargnani had 12 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes, continuing his resurgence which began two weeks ago against Philadelphia. Donald Sloan has taken advantage of the time he has gotten, and he had two points, six assists, three rebounds. Sloan got the opportunity to play more when Shane Larkin missed the past week due to a concussion.
Larkin was back in action on Wednesday night for the first time since suffering the concussion. He finished with seven points and two assists in 19 minutes.
Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins said of the game, “That was a heck of a basketball game and everybody got their money’s worth on that one. I was proud of our team, the way we battled. We were down 11 at halftime. Dirk (Nowitzki) makes a shot at the end of the (second) quarter and it was easy for us to fold up our tent and not compete, but we came out in the second half and we got right at them. We outscored them 34-17 and took the lead. We just couldn’t extend the lead and ultimately it was tit-for-tat down the stretch. We’s make a bucket, they’d make a bucket. We had a couple of big defensive plays. Thad (young) switching on (J.J.) Barea and blocking the shot at the end of the quarter, but also when we were down one and he knocked the ball loose, we got a loose ball and we picked it up and we weren’t able to make the bucket to win the game.
“I have never seen a team shoot 77 percent from three in a half, maybe a quarter, but they were extremely hot. We overcame all of that. When you think about it, they were 71 (percent) on twos and 77 (percent) on threes and we still battled back. We had 15 offensive rebounds which really helped us. If you want to just analyze stats, I think going 6-for-14 from the free throw line was the game-changer when you look at it in simplistic terms. But they played, we played and somebody unfortunately had to lose and it was us,” said Hollins.
Brook Lopez said of the game, “It was back and forth. I had some very tough shots. We were playing great team defense, playing together. You know, we had a great mixture of guys in the second half that came in and gave us energy. It was huge for us. It was the jump-start we needed and allowed us to get to overtime. Obviously, Thad (Young) was the player he was. He made some huge plays down the stretch to get us into overtime as well. It was a great team effort, especially the way we played in the first half – we were able to bounce back.”
Lopez said of dealing with a loss in such a close game, “You know, it’s a little easier tonight. It’s still tough and disappointing, but it’s a little easier tonight. We’ve been saying this all season, but, you know, when we took steps back against Minnesota, we obviously felt we’ve taken steps forward these past two games. They way we’ve played for six quarters, you know these last games, roughly is how we want to play out the rest of the season. We really feel like we’ve come together as of late.”
The Nets may not have enough to get into the playoffs, but they could win enough to get into the conversation.
This January, they have ten games at home, and with the Barclays a tough place to go into for road teams, they could definitely take advantage. In the Nets’ time in Brooklyn, they have always had a tough first couple of months and then went on a run starting in January.