The Brooklyn Nets came into the new year limping off a blowout loss to the San Antonio Spurs 104-73 on New Years Eve where they scored a franchise low five points in the third quarter. The Nets have yet to have a game where their “Big 3” all played well on the same night and it has been frustrating for both players and fans as well.
The Nets have been searching for answers since the calendar hit December and a myriad of questions have hung around the teams lackluster play which caused ownership to fire coach Avery Johnson last week in hopes of shaking up the team. Deron Williams has been in a season long funk and readily admits that he has played horrible and needs to improve for the Nets to go anywhere.
Williams seemed lost after the Spurs game and let his feelings be known to anyone who would listen.
“I’ve got to play better. I’ve got to find ways to get better. Even on bad nights, I don’t play like this. This doesn’t even feel like it’s me out on the court. I’ve just got to snap out of it. I put a lot of pressure on myself early. I was really excited about this year. Coming into the season, I felt like we had a great team. I still feel like we have a great team and I want to be able to help the team more and play better. And tonight was another night I didn’t help.”
That all changed on Wednesday night when the Nets took the court for the first time in 2013 to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on their home court where they were 16-2 prior.
The Nets came out on fire and shot 64% in the first quarter to take a lead of 33-19 behind Joe Johnson’s shooting and Williams game management. Brook Lopez played huge in the middle and did his best to bring Serge Ibaka out of the paint to guard him from 15 feet and out with his jump shot. The Nets continued the great play through the second quarter and got the lead as large as 24 points midway through the quarter.
The third quarter has been an absolute nightmare for the Nets all year and tonight was no different as the Thunder came out and hit the Nets right in the mouth after half and outscored them 27-15 to bring the lead down to four points going into the final 12 minutes. The Thunder tied the game early in the fourth 85-85 and that is when Johnson hit a running jumper to give the Nets the lead and they didn’t look back after that to cruise to a 110-93 win.
Johnson led the Nets with a season-high 33 points, while D-Will managed the game with 19 points, 13 assists and a season-high five steals and Lopez added 25 points and five rebounds including one huge dunk on Ibaka.
This win and solid quarterback play by Williams could be just what the doctor ordered for the Nets as he and the rest of the team should bottle this effort and execution and drink it for the rest of the year. This could be the win that catapults this struggling Nets team to a nice run.