Ever since the Nets traded for Joe Johnson over the summer, the shooting guard hasn't played like himself. Tonight, he certainly did.If the Nets had any bad tastes in their mouths from their losses to the Lakers and the Warriors, then there aren't there anymore, because of how they completely shut down the Clippers in Brooklyn tonight. The Nets improved to 7-4 on the season with a win over one of the better teams in the Western Conference in a fashion that has been uncommon to them this year: They played good defense and were actually not-awful in the third quarter.
Ok, to be clear, the Nets didn't play great defense the whole game, just in the second half. They were down by a score of 47-40 at half and things didn't look too promising. The uber-athletic Clipper frontcourt duo of Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan dominated the first half, throwing down alley-oop dunks, grabbing offensive boards, and just making the Nets look bad most of the time. Just about the only thing going the Nets' way in the first two quarters of the game was the offensive output they got from Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. Lopez's offense has been great the whole season but Joe's hasn't, making his early shooting accuracy a pleasant surprise.
The second half was a whole different animal from the first. Lopez and D-Will hit a few shots apiece right off the bat, cutting the Clipper lead to 50-49 at the 8:32 mark. Then, a sequence involving a Caron Butler free throw sandwiched by a Joe Johnson floater and a Brook Lopez dunk tied up the game at 53. Brooklyn and LA traded buckets the rest of the quarter, entering the fourth tied at 63.
A Keith Bogans three-pointer off a sick drive-and-kick by C.J. Watson at the 9:40 point of the final period opened up the fourth quarter's scoring, giving the Nets a three-point lead they wouldn't relinquish throughout the remainder of the contest. When the dust settled, the Clippers had been outscored by the Nets 23-13 in the fourth, and by a score of 46-29 in the second half in total. Tonight's Nets win was truly a tale of two halves.
Some other observations I had from the game: Five rebounds from Brook Lopez. I give up.....Tonight was probably the best the Nets defense has been all year. I know they only gave up 68 points to the Magic one game, but the Clippers have really good offensive players and holding them to 40 percent shooting and forcing 18 turnovers is just incredible. The only real reasonable knock on them is that they were outrebounded by 10, a byproduct of a nothing game from Hump and classic Brook failing to rebound like a normal center.....Reggie Evans had 12 boards in 22 minutes against his old team, and also probably coerced two Clippers (Ryan Hollins and Deandre Jordan) to commit technical fouls. Classic Reggie.....No playing time for MarShon, Childress, or Mirza (inactive) tonight. I guess I understand why no Mirza or Childress, but in a low-scoring game like this one, Brooks should definitely have gotten at least 10 minutes. How Avery's rotations from game-to-game simply confound me sometimes.....Gerald Wallace misses Wednesday's night's game at Golden State, the Nets play no defense and lose. He plays tonight against the Clips, the Nets play wonderful defense and win. I'm gonna say no coincidence.....Andray Blatche committed three turnovers in 15 minutes, two of which came on absurd behind-the-back attempts on a pass and a dribble which cost the Nets four easy points. I think he's becoming this year's Johan Petro, and that scares me to death.
Brooklyn tries to build off their momentum from tonight's win on Sunday afternoon at Barclays Center against the Portland Trail Blazers.