By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor – @JESchott19
The Nets won their fifth in a row Friday night, 99-79 over the Phoenix Suns, with a dominant second-half performance. The third quarter, which bedeviled the team early in the season, is now when they take games over.
The Nets trailed 53-46 at halftime, and were down 63-62 with 2:20 left in the third.
That was when Andray Blatche and MarShon Brooks started a rally. Blatche scored five in a row and Brooks seven in a row, accounting for all of the Nets’ points in a 12-3 run to closethe third quarter.
The fourth quarter belonged to Joe Johnson, as it has many times this season. Johnson hit back-to-back threes around the 8:00 mark to give the Nets a commanding 84-66 lead.
Johnson had eight in the fourth, and led the Nets with 19 overall on 8-for-19 shooting in 35 minutes. This on a night when P.J. Carlesimo was unsure how much he would get out of Johnson since he has been sick.
Brooks had another big night, with 17 points on 5-for-9 shooting in 22 minutes. Blatche had 15 points on 6-for-14 shooting with 8 rebounds. They were the reason that the Nets reserves outscored their conuterparts for the fifth consecutive game.
Reggie Evans was king of the boards again, with 15 rebounds to go along with seven points (3-for-4).
This was the first time in Nets’ NBA history that they have won three games in a row by 20 or more points. The last time they did that was February 19-23, 1975 when the team was in the ABA.
However, this was not a routine win, as there was quite a scare in the first quarter. Gerald Wallace was going up for a lay-up on a fast break and was fouled hard by Phoenix’s Jared Dudley. As Wallace went up, Dudley went right at Wallace’s arm, forcing him to lose his balance in midair and land hard on the court. Wallace took x-rays, which were negative, and was diagnosed with bruised ribs.
Deron Williams was limping for most of the game and suffered a thigh contusion. Despite that, he played 35 miuntes with 15 points (3-for-5, with two three-pointers and seven free throws) and six assists.
Nets Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo said of Wallace and Williams, “Gerald they took home and Deron has about 50 feet of wrap and ice all around him. We are hurting right now.”
The Nets are now 21-15 and are in the thick of it for the Atlantic Division title. They are within just two games of the Knicks, who lost to the Chicago Bulls. The Boston Celtics beat the Houston Rockets and are four games behind New York.