|The Nets simply had no answer for Varejao tonight. Thankfully, him and the Cavs had no answer for the Nets either.|
How, you might say, could a basketball team be like an actor in a play? Well, like an actor, the Nets have tons of natural talent which will propel them to many leads and big wins this season. They also have their fair share of duds, exemplified by the many blown leads and the pair of notable crushing losses they have had so far this season. Tonight, we saw both sides of the Nets, good and bad. Good in that they moved the ball around on offense masterfully the entire game, leading to 27 (!) assists and 114 points. Good in that they shot 54.5 percent from the field, only committed 13 turnovers against one of the NBA's best teams at forcing turnovers, and even blocked 10 shots. Bad in that they allowed 101 points to the Cavs and career-highs to both Kyrie Irving (34 points) and Anderson Varejao (35 points on 16-21 shooting).
Like they did on Sunday against the Magic, the Nets played a killer first half, grabbing a 64-42 lead at half after outscoring Cleveland by score of 35-12 in the second quarter. The second half started out ok but once Kyrie Irving started to get hot and the already-poor Nets' interior defense started to crumble even more, the game's ending got much murkier as the Cavs climbed back to within 10 points at the end of the third. Although Byron Scott's scrappy squad hung around for most of the final quarter, a few dagger three-pointers from Joe Johnson and Deron Williams finally put the game out of reach, sealing the Nets' 4th win of the season and dropping Cleveland down to 2-6 as they finish up their grueling six-game road trip.
Tonight's win felt much more secure than Sunday's win and it seemed that finally the Nets had solved the chemistry problem ailing them in the first five game. Other than Keith Bogans, every rotational player for Coach Avery Johnson performed their role perfectly, making the win that much easier to attain. C.J. Watson scored seven points in 28 minutes as he anchored the second unit--and got a lot of time with the first-teamers--while Reggie Evans nabbed eight rebounds and Andray Blatche scored 13 points. Jerry Stackhouse continued to show life in his legs, making a few key buckets for Brooklyn late in the game that helped stabilize the lead and even Josh Childress showed up something, tipping a missed shot in and cleaning up the boards well in his 15 minutes of play. The Nets seemed fine without MarShon Brooks and Gerald Wallace, who probably will return to the starting lineup on Thursday against Boston.
Some other observations I had from the game: The Nets big-four (D-Will, Joe, Brook, Hump) played like stars in the win, seems like the first time all year that has happened in the same game. Brook Lopez dominated the offensive post, scoring 23 points on 10-14 shooting and even collecting seven rebounds. Hump was plagued by foul trouble but still managed to contribute. Joe Johnson showed the starpower that the team has been desperately looking for from him, scoring 25 points on 9-16 shooting from the field, to go along with three three-pointers. Joe continued to surprise with his great passing out of post-ups, leading to his five assists. And finally, D-Will led the show with a double-double (26 points and 10 dimes) that has been eluding him throughout his Nets tenure....The defense wasn't awful, but Anderson Varejao punked the Nets in the first half while Kyrie Irving picked up the baton in the second. Allowing 34+ points to TWO PLAYERS ON THE SAME TEAM is just terrible, especially when one (Varejao) isn't even known for scoring.....When they did allow Cavs players to get through to the paint, the Nets managed to stuff a ton of their shots, winning the blocks category by a score of 10-0. Seven of those blocks came from Brook Lopez and Blatche, discouraging Cleveland from attempting layups and pushing them out of the paint to shoot lower percentage shots.
Closing out their homestand, the Nets take on the Boston Celtics in Brooklyn's first primetime regular season game.