By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor – @JESchott19
The Nets came out for Wednesday night’s game in Oklahoma City mad, angry, and with a chip on their collective shoulders after Monday night’s disaster in San Antonio.
The start was what you wanted to see from this team. There has been a lot of tension around this group since the start of December. Most of the attention lately has been on why Deron Williams has not been playing like the elite point guard they signed in the offseason.
They spent the first quarter taking their frustrations out on the Thunder. Brook Lopez had a stretch where he hit three jumpers from the top of the key and Joe Johnson had 12 points.
Deron Williams looked as sharp as he ever has this season, finding Johnson open in the corner a few times and generally looking like he was on a mission.
The Nets led 33-19 after the first quarter, and the momentum kept going in the second quarter, supplied by an unlikely source.
Kris Humphries came off the bench in the second quarter and looked as good as he has all year. He handled the ball well, which led him to go for layups, and played solid defense. Humphries had 11 points and 7 rebounds in 25 minutes.
The Nets led by as many as many as 21, and the Thunder made a late run to make it 61-45 Brooklyn at the half.
The calendar has turned to 2013, but what did the Nets in during December 2012 hurt them in this one.
The Thunder rallied in the third quarter, pulling to within three. Worries that this would be the usual Nets collapse were soothed when Lopez hit a couple of layups to make it 75-68.
The Thunder outscored the Nets 27-15 in the third, and tied the game at 85 on a Kevin Martin three-pointer with 7:11 left in the game.
That was what the Nets needed, as that gritty, hardened attitude from the first quarter returned.
The Nets went on a 10-1 run, with Johnson getting a couple of baskets, and Keith Bogans, Williams, and Humphries each knocking down free throws. Lopez got around Kendrick Perkins along the baseline for a short jumper to make it 99-88 with 3:03 left. Lopez got a three-point play on their next possession to make it 102-90.
With the Nets up 104-90 with 1:57 left, Kendrick Perkins was called for a foul on an inbounds pass. Kevin Durant didn’t like the call, and was ejected for arguing by referee Danny Crawford.
The Nets won 110-93, mainly because of the game Joe Johnson had. He had 33 points on on 11-for-19 shooting with five three-pointers.
Johnson said to YES after the game, “I wanted to be aggressive early, and our defense was pretty good…This can definitely give us confidence. We’re definitiely better than a .500 team.”
This should help interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo keep the job the rest of the way.
The job that he did in helping the Nets get through the fourth quarter was impressive.
Many teams have folded against the Thunder late in games, so the fact that the Nets went on a run shows his message is getting through.
Williams had his best game of the season by far, and had the numbers to prove it, with 19 points and 13 assists.