By Jason Schott – BroolynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor- @JESchott19
The Nets bounced back from Wednesday night’s setback in Atlanta by playing tremendous defense late to beat the Hawks 94-89 on Friday night at a sold-out Barclays Center.
The Nets are now 10-2 under Interim Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo, the second best start for a coach in franchise history. Their record is now 24-16, and they are within two games of the Knicks, who they play on Monday in Manhattan.
This game was a very rare case of the score being tied at the end of the first three quarters. They each scored 29 in the first, 20 in the second, and 25 in the third.
The game was tied at 74, and the Nets started the quarter with a 5-0 run, with Joe Johnson getting a couple of free throws and a jumper, and C.J. Watson hitting a free throw.
The score was 81-80 when the Nets went on what is quickly becoming a trademark fourth-quarter run.
Brook Lopez got 7 points in a 9-1 run that gave them their biggest lead of the game, at 90-82. He did it with a hook shot jumper and five free throws.
Atlanta followed with a 7-0 run capped by a highlight-reel dunk from Josh Smith to cut the Nets’ lead to 90-89 with 1:02 left. The Nets called an immediate timeout.
On the Nets’ ensuing possession, Deron Williams got to the line and hit two free throws to make it 92-89.
Instead of going for the game-tying three, Atlanta’s Jeff Teague tried a short jumper that was blocked ferociously by Lopez. The Nets got the ball back with 29 seconds left, and Atlanta did not foul immediately, but wound up fouling Williams anyway. He went to the line and made two free throws that gave the Nets a 92-89 lead and iced the game.
The Nets were 12-for-18 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and 25-for-38 overall for the game. Carlesimo said of this, “To beat a good team, you have got to make free throws. We were fortunate to be able to win with the free throws we missed. But we did a great job getting to the line. We just don’t take advantage of it.”
Williams led the Nets with 24 points on 7-for-19 shooting, and was 7-for-7 from the free throw line to run his streak to 47 consecutive free throws made.
Brook Lopez had 20 points, 7 of which came in the fourth quarter, and shot 7-for-12 from the field along with 6 rebounds.
Carlesimo said of Lopez, “He’s playing as well as any center in the league. I don’t know another center that is playing better than him. There are a couple others that are playing really well too, but I don’t think there is any center that is playing better than him. He’s done a heck of a job.”
Joe Johnson had 18 points, and Reggie Evans snatched 20 rebounds. Rounding out the starters, Gerald Wallace had 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists in 29 minutes. The starting lineup of Williams-Johnson-Wallace-Evans-Lopez is 7-1 this season.