|For the 3rd-straight game, Shaun Livingston was the best Net on the floor|
It wasn't pretty, easy, or particularly inspiring, but tonight's Nets' 108-102 victory over the hapless (and tanking) Philadelphia 76ers finally snapped Brooklyn's three-game losing streak and helped right the ship of a team going through a tough part of its schedule with a lot of players out due to injury. Joe Johnson (knee), Andray Blatche (hip), and Andrei Kirilenko (calf) all missed this game, and the Nets missed their collective presence greatly.
This game was a total slop-and-foul fest, evidenced by the 38 total turnovers (25 for Philly), 67 free throw attempts (39 for Brooklyn), and 52 personal fouls (28 for Philly). There wasn't much defense played by either side, loads of missed and unconstested shots, and some of the worst passes you'll ever see in a NBA game. After the Nets got off to a 19-4 lead in the 1st quarter, it didn't look like this game would be close either. However, it surprised us all, beating the odds to become a competitive game, even if it was just because Brooklyn has no ability to close out a game ever.
Would this game have played out differently if the Nets had Joe, Blatche and/or AK? Yes, probably. Would the 76ers have taken the six-point lead in the 2nd quarter that the Nets would eventually overcome? Hard to say, but it was built against a depleted Brooklyn that had to play Marquis Teague and Jason Terry significant minutes. Would the Nets have let their 17-point 3rd-quarter lead dwindle to two points on two different occasions? I would say no to that one.
Hypotheticals aside, a superior Nets team let an inferior 76ers team hang around this game for far too long, and it nearly cost them a win in a similar way to how it cost them a win last Monday at Barclays against the Toronto Raptors. The similarities between that game and this one were astounding, except for when Brooklyn–using Shaun Livingston as an inbounder–was able to successfully pass the ball in to Paul Pierce with 12 seconds left to get fouled and seal the win. Against Toronto, Deron Williams inbounded the ball right to Patrick Patterson, who hit the game-winning shot. No collapse tonight.
Some other observations I had from the game: Shaun Livingston, as he has done of late, stepped up big time for the Nets tonight, scoring 13 points, grabbing six boards, dishing out eight assists, and nabbing seven seals. Name an aspect of the game, and he affected it in a positive way. Also, had a game-high +23 rating, which is definitely not a coincidence……The Nets need Blatche, AK, and Joe very badly, AK maybe the most out of the three. It seems obvious, but this game demonstrated just how important depth on a contending team is. Teague and Terry clearly cannot play much for the Nets if this team is going to be successful…..Paul Pierce was the game's high scorer with 25, 14 of which came from the free throw line (14-for-14). He missed a bunch of open shots, but when the Nets needed him to hit FTs late, he was there and he came through…..Mirza struck again, tonight hitting five 3-pointers to help maintain the Brooklyn lead. Wasn't great on defense and did have a -10 rating but hit a lot of big shots, as he usually does.
The Nets look to salvage their season series with the Spurs this Thursday when San Antonio comes to Brooklyn on its annual rodeo trip.