Here, I'm going to say it: D-Will is back
When the Nets can get all of their good players to play well on the same night, good things can happen. That night was tonight against the Bulls in Brooklyn, as the Nets finally were able to beat Chicago for the first time since last May.
Brooklyn scored the first eight points of the game, and like in their win last week in Denver over the Nuggets, the Nets set the tone early and built a 1st quarter lead that would ultimately become unsurmountable. Brooklyn's lead was as large as 25-10 in the opening frame, but faded down to nine points after 12 minutes of play.
Then on, until this game ended, the Nets were ahead and saw their advantage fluctuate between around five and 15 points, allowing for some tense moments in the 2nd half. However, amazing play from Deron Williams (+27 rating, game-high 20 points and six assists on 6-11 shooting), Paul Pierce (+30 rating, 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and four steals), and Joe Johnson (+29 rating, 19 points on 7-11 shooting) kept Brooklyn in the lead and let the Nets climb back to .500 for the first time since they were 2-2 in November.
No Kevin Garnett (back spasms) didn't end up being much of a problem, as Joakim Noah only scored 10 points and grabbed six boards while also committing six turnovers (Bulls had 28 turnovers as a team leading to 30 Brooklyn points). The combo of Plumlee, Blatche, and Andrei Kirilenko played great defense on Noah, who normally destroys the size-challenged Nets. It also helped that Brooklyn compiled a stunning 19 steals, the team's most since 2009, which let it establish numbers in the frontcourt on offense, mismatches that led to a lot of points.
Some other observations I had from the game: By no means was this a perfect win for Jason Kidd's team in Jason Collins' and Marcus Thornton's home debuts. Thornton, first off, was really off from the field, as he only hit a short floater and missed his other six shots, four of which were relatively-open threes. Mirza was ice cold too, as he didn't score tonight via missing all five field goals (all threes) he attempted. The team as a whole only made seven of the 25 threes it shot (28 percent). It didn't hurt the Nets tonight, by they can't expect to take all those longballs, not make a lot of them, and still compete against top teams night after night.....Kirilenko and Blatche were great, again. AK was his usual swarming and pesky self on defense, grabbing big rebounds and getting stops when needed. He also threw down a few jams on the other end of the floor. 'Dray, meanwhile, had his jumper going early and also made a few great passes in traffic to open teammates for easy buckets. Good Blatche.....Just three minutes each for Alan Anderson and Collins. With Thornton's arrival, Anderson has been pushed to the side and hasn't been able to get much PT.....On a final note, Shaun Livingston continues to sure up his resume for comeback player of the year. He was limited a bit by foul trouble throughout, but scored 14 points on seven shots and led the team with five steals. His hands are always active on defense, and it makes opposing teams have significant trouble in running their sets.
The Nets, on a three-game winning streak, stay in Brooklyn to face the Grizzlies and Marc Gasol on Wednesday night.