|21 rebounds? 21 rebounds|
The Nets looked great starting out of the gate earlier today at Barclays Center, moving the ball around masterfully and playing sound all-around defense en route to taking a 35-17 lead after 12 minutes of play. At this point in the game, the Nets looked to be headed to another game that would play out similarly to their 39-point blowout win on Friday night. However, that would not be the case.
The second, third, and fourth quarters turned the game from a potential rout in Brooklyn's favor into a slogfest that included horrendous shooting percentages, too many fouls, and plenty of sloppy play. Orlando slowly chipped away at the once-comfortable Nets lead by holding the home team to just 36 points over the next two quarters, cutting their once 18-point deficit to just 10 points by the beginning of the fourth.
An exchange of buckets and free throws left the Magic down just seven points with 2:05 remaining in the game. Then, a Nets defensive breakdown led to a Glen Davis layup, setting the score at 77-72 in favor of Brooklyn. The Nets and Magic then traded made shots, culminating in a Brook Lopez lay-in, putting the game out of reach for Orlando and clinching the victory for the Nets, improving Avery Johnson's squad's mark on the season to 3-2.
It sure wasn't an easy, non-nerveracking win for the Nets by any means but it shouldn't be their prerogative to be picky about the fashion in which they beat any teams. They looked really good early on, playing with a swagger and chemistry that really hasn't been prevalent throughout the season's early games. Later on, it wasn't as easy but that might be a good thing, showing that this team can win when they aren't hitting on all cylinders. All good NBA teams need to overcome adversity multiple times through the long and arduous season in order to be successful and the fact that the Nets could do this in this afternoon's contest is a really good sign.
Some other observations I had from the game: Yet another great showing from Kris Humphries, who nabbed 21 boards and scored 14 points against the undersized and undermanned Magic. He's got that killer instinct back that has been so crucial to his success as a Net......Positives: Brook Lopez scored 20 points and blocked three shots. Negatives: Brook Lopez committed seven turnovers and only grabbed three rebounds. Brook's offense is consistently efficient and can always be counted on, but he needs to rebound better, because against healthier and more talented teams than the Magic, the Nets are going to need some rebounding help from their center in addition to just their power forward. Also, the seven turnovers are probably an anomaly but, regardless, that can't happen.....D-Will probably played his best overall game of the season, scoring 17 points, netting seven rebounds, and dishing out seven assists. He showed his all-around versatility in shooting, directing the offense, and also cleaning up the boards in this one......The bench didn't score much this afternoon but was more than productive in the area of rebounding (Blatche and Evans- seven rebounds each).....Joe Johnson still didn't have that breakout game I was hoping for, hitting just 3-13 from the field. Still getting adjusted to his role on this team and Avery's system.....I know that holding an opposing team to 36 percent shooting is really good, but the Nets didn't actually play as good defense as the stats show. Too many times they let the likes of Arron Afflalo and Glen Davis get right to the basket with little intervention. Also, the Nets perimeter defense was poor as well, but wasn't punished because Orlando couldn't buy an outside jumper throughout.
The Nets stay at home, welcoming the Cleveland Cavaliers to Barclays Center on Tuesday night.