By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19
The Nets had another impressive win on Monday night at Barclays Center, as they shut down the explosive Phoenix Suns and won walking away, 108-95.
The Nets’ defense had a strong night, as they held Phoenix to 46.3 percent from the field and just 95 points, quite an achievement considering Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd said before the game of Phoenix, “They’re a team that can score 125 points in their wins of late, you know, that’s a team that puts a lot of pressure on your defense.”
One thing that stood out about tonight’s starting lineup is that it was a “Battle of Plumlees,” with Mason starting for the Nets in place of Kevin Garnett, who missed his ninth straight game (back spasms) and Miles for Phoenix. Mason Plumlee had 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting and 11 rebounds, giving him his third double-double of the season. Miles was held to 3 points and 6 rebounds. Mason said of playing against his brother, “It was fun. I know there’s going to be many games over the next few years so you just try to take each one in.”
The Nets, as they have done lately at home, started out strong, and took a 17-9 lead on a Paul Pierce three-pointer with 4:54 left in the first. At that time, Kidd did something very bold, as he sent in Jorge Gutierrez for Shaun Livingston. Gutierrez signed his second 10-day contract on Monday morning, and only played one game on his first 10-day. He was in there for the rest of the first and did a nice job, providing the Nets with some speed to counter Phoenix’s attack and was a big reason that they led 30-20 at the end of the first.
Kidd said of playing Gutierrez at that point in the game, “Well, I wanted to see if he could play. I don’t just want to sign someone for 10 days or 20 days and not give him the opportunity to play; it’s not fair for us or him. I felt like in a game like this, there was an opportunity. They are going to put a lot of pressure on the perimeter with their guards so I wanted to see what he could do and I thought that he did a great job.”
The Nets kept it up in the second, and led by as many as 16 at one point and 62-49 at the half. In the third, Phoenix got it back to single digits, at 76-67, on a Markieff Morris three-point play with 3:57 on the clock. The Nets responded, with Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce hitting threes to make it 82-67.
The Nets took a 90-72 lead into the fourth quarter, where the highlight was Deron Williams getting a rare dunk on a leap from near the top of the key that made it 98-83 with 6:34 left.
D-Will had a big night, with 28 points on an impressive 11-for-13 from the field, 3-for-5 on threes, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds. On the dunk and the night D-Will had, Kidd said, “Well, we are trying to debate if that was a dunk. He was great tonight. I think if he’s healthy, he looked good. You have to ask him if that was a dunk. He doesn’t want to say it was a dunk. He was attacking and setting the table for his teammates. I think he had an overall pretty good game.”
Williams said of Kidd’s reaction to his dunk, “Coach is supposed to have your back! I can’t do anything but shake my head, man. He’s supposed to say something like ‘I’m proud of him’ or ‘It’s a monumental moment.’ He was never a dunker in his day, either.”
In addition to D-Will, all starters were in double figures, with Joe Johnson scoring 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting, 3-5 on threes, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds. Shaun Livingston had 12 points and 5 assists. Paul Pierce had 10 points, as he made four of just seven shot attempts, along with five rebounds. As noted earlier, Plumlee had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The Nets improve to 34-31, including 24-10 in 2014, and this was their ninth straight home victory. They have won 16 of their last 18 games at Barclays Center and this is the Nets’ longest home winning streak since Jason Kidd’s playing days, when they won nine straight from March 15 to April 6.