Deron Williams has been banged up all season with various injuries, but the only game he had missed was a December game vs Milwaukee. That changed this week when inflammation in his ankles forced him to the sidelines against the Pacers and the Nuggets. The outlook was bleak coming off of a 3-6 stretch as the Nets took on two strong playoff teams without their star point guard; however, the strong play of Deron’s replacements has led to a 2 game win streak heading into the All-Star break. Brooklyn took down Indiana in a low scoring overtime thriller by a score of 89-84 Monday night. Tyshawn Taylor stepped up in the second half scoring 12 points including consecutive baskets in the extra period giving the Nets the lead for good. Wednesday’s showdown against the run-and-gun Nuggets squad saw a lot more scoring as the Nets came out on top 119-108. C.J. Watson, starting at point guard, responded from a 0-7 night on Monday by exploding for 25 points, converting on 5 of 7 shots from downtown.
Some may suggest that Brooklyn is better off without Deron Williams, the same way it has been suggested the Celtics are better sans Rondo (8-1 since his season ending ACL injury). While these were two big victories without Williams, they are going to need him to get back on the floor and playing up to his potential if they have any chance of advancing in the postseason. The All-Star break gives Deron time to get healthy for the second half of the season as he looks to return to his superstar form; in the mean time Taylor and Watson showed what they could do when given the opportunity.
LeBron James should be banned from the use of Twitter after this last tweet. Per usual, James feels the need to put himself in the spotlight and rouse fan support by suggesting he would consider entering the Dunk Contest. Not gonna happen. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see LeBron out there throwing down 360 slams and jumping over cars. But there is a 0% chance he “takes his talents” to Houston for the NBA All-Star Weekend Dunk Contest. Absolutely 0%. As a matter of fact, he shouldn’t even bother. He’d probably get smoked by New York’s finest James White anyway.
The Brooklyn Nets defeated Detroit in a nail-bitter last night by a score of 93-90. They did not play their best game, but Brooklyn did just enough to come out on top. The outcome was very much in question when the Nets had the ball clinging to a 1-point lead with less than 20 seconds to play. With the game on the line they chose not to put the ball in the hands of their star point guard or their 6-time all-star swingman, instead they let Brook Lopez do his thing in the post to secure the win.
Despite his impressive pedigree, Deron Williams has not been the go-to-guy for the Nets this season because he has been hampered by injuries and shooting only .415 from the field. In the first half Joe Johnson is the guy who has came through for them in the clutch, so I logically thought he would be first option in the final seconds yesterday. Look no further than the last time these two teams matched up to see Johnson come through at the opportune time.
This is one of two buzzer beaters Iso Joe has hit in double overtime this season, the other coming against the Washington Wizards. Now Brook joins Joe as someone you trust to make something happen in late game situations, as last night showed. He leads the Nets and all centers averaging 18.9 ppg, is 4th in player efficiency rating (behind Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Chris Paul), and will be making his first All-Star Game appearance. With Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum sidelined with injuries Lopez very well might be the top big man in the league. I’m not trying to downplay the importance of Williams and Johnson because Brooklyn has put together a solid Big 3, but at this point of the season Brook Lopez is the “man” for the Nets.
Move it on your leeeeft!
The Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets continue to move in opposite directions as LA defeated Brooklyn 92-83. Although they are only 23-26, the Lakers have now won 6 of their last 7 as Kobe Bryant has looked to become more of a distributor. On the other hand, it looks like PJ Carlesimo’s honeymoon period is over as the Nets have now dropped 4 of their last 6.
This game should have featured two of the best centers in the league; two guys that were involved in trade rumors for each other this summer. Instead, Dwight Howard missed his third straight game with a torn labrum giving the Nets the advantage in the frontcourt. Brook Lopez showed why he is worthy of an All-Star appearance exploding for 30 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks in the absence of the three time defensive player of the year. Brooklyn was able to stay in the game because of their dominance on the boards; they snatched an impressive 20 offensive rebounds compared to 5 for the Hollywood crew. Bryant got off to a slow start and was held to 21 points (9-24 from the field), but he stepped up when it counted including a thunderous slam in the final minutes to take the lead, looking more like the rookie who won the dunk contest in 1997. Deron Williams’s bonehead move to reach in and foul Kobe in the final minute with only 2 seconds left on the shot clock sealed the Nets’ fate.
It seems like there is always one quarter in which the Nets fail to show up. Tonight it was the 2nd quarter in which they were outscored 31-16. Although they were able to overcome the 10 point halftime deficit, you have to believe that they would have pulled this one out if they showed up for four quarters. Last week against Miami it was the 3rd quarter in which they were outscored by 22 points that caused the blowout loss.
The loss is Brooklyn’s first to a team that is under .500 at the time they play, they were 17-0 in such games previously. This was the start of a grueling stretch with 5 games in 7 days. They look to turn it around tomorrow in a very winnable game as they take on the Pistons (18-31) in Detroit.
My name is Sam Elias and I am very excited to be joining Gotham Bleachers. I look forward to writing about the teams I support, which includes the Giants, Yankees, and Nets. Along with fellow writer Ben Hoynes, I am a sophomore at Wesleyan University where I study economics and play on the baseball and golf teams. I grew up in Norwood, New Jersey; a small town 20 minutes outside of New York City that explains my choice of teams.
My most memorable sports moment was during my junior year of high school when my basketball team won the State Sectional Semifinal game in a five overtime thriller.
The gym was electric as people kept filtering into the gym as the overtimes progressed, far exceeding capacity pushing the temperature to dangerously high levels. Two buzzer beaters and nine periods later our fans stormed the court celebrating the marathon victory. We went on to win the championship, but this is the game that stands out and is a memory that I will never forget.
Follow me on twitter @se42
To be honest, I didn’t even bother watching the Knicks game last night. That’s how confident I am at this point.
This team is on an absolute tear right now, and it’s hard to see the Knickstape slowing down anytime soon. Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony seem to have finally figured out how to coexist in the Big Apple, with Raymond Felton acting as the glue holding them together and JR Smith continuing to provide electricity off the bench. And now that New York is playing with its top seven guys healthy, I have to give Mike Woodson credit for sticking to his plan and proving one thing: it’s not about who starts the game, but who finishes it. With Kidd back in a more comfortable role playing off the ball and keeping his minutes in the 20′s and Iman Shumpert easing his way back into form, Woodson consistently closes games with both Stoudemire and Smith on the floor: a fearsome lineup that matches up with any team in the league right now.
The key here is the rotations. A small starting lineup hugely benefits Carmelo Anthony in the first quarter while also setting up favorable lineups throughout the game and putting JR and Amar’e in position to finish the contest. If a few games go the right way this week and the Knicks continue their commitment to defense and ball movement, the ‘Bockers could find themselves atop the Eastern Conference at the All-Star break for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Knickstape has officially dropped.