The Brooklyn Nets capped a brief 2-game homestand against the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 103-100 victory. While their defense was suspect in this game, their offense continues to click since the firing of Avery Johnson. Brook Lopez led the Nets with 35 points and 11 boards, as he continues to be the focal point for the Nets’ offense. Gerald Wallace added 10 rebounds, as did Reggie Evans off the bench, and both Deron Williams and Joe Johnson dropped 15 points.
The Nets got the scoring started with a strong first quarter, outscoring Cleveland by 10 in the opening period, and continuing the trend of good first quarters that this team has had all season. The Nets were outscored in every subsequent quarter, but did enough to keep Cleveland at arms’ length, never allowing Cleveland to gain the lead, but allowing Cleveland to move within 1 a number of times. For Cleveland, Kyrie Irving had 13 points, and CJ Miles added 33 off the bench.
Things got interesting in the 4th however, as Cleveland clawed back to within 1 before the Nets ballooned it to 9 again. Then Cleveland kept scratching, getting it to 100-97 with under a minute to go. The Cavs then fouled Deron Williams, who made the first free throw but missed the second, leaving the door open for Cleveland. Kyrie Irving would capitalize, hitting a 3 with 10 seconds left to cut it to 101-100. Joe Johnson would hit free throws to make it 103-100, but it came down to Kyrie Irving’s 3-pt attempt, which missed as time expired.
With the recent headlines surrounding the Nets centered on their coaching search, it has been business as usual for PJ Carlesimo, who hopes to make a few waves by beating some top Western Conference teams on the road. The Nets’ next 2 games are in San Antonio and Oklahoma City, and wins against one or both could go a long way to solidifying Carlesimo as the full-time replacement for Avery Johnson.
Brook Lopez shot 13-of-20 from the field, having back-to-back double doubles after a 26/11 performance against the lowly Bobcats on Friday. He continues having the hot hand, with the iso offensive package clearly working in his favor.
After two favorable home games against teams with a combined 14 wins, the Nets (16-14) now hit the road for 3 games, going up against San Antonio for their last game of the calendar year, then taking on Oklahoma City on Wednesday, and Washington in DC on Friday. The Nets are hoping they can build momentum and a winning streak from their past two wins. The same thing happened when the current Cavs’ coach, Byron Scott, was fired from the Nets in 2004. The Nets then reeled off 13 straight wins to start the tenure of Lawrence Frank, and ultimately it won him the job.
A repeat of that for the Nets could win Carlesimo the job, which is what Carlesimo wants. And it might happen, considering early Sunday morning the Nets have confirmed that Carlesimo will finish out the season, putting their head coach search on hold for the foreseeable future.
This win should give the Nets confidence. Here’s to hoping they continue the momentum on the road.