Encouragement over the fact that this was only the team’s second two-game win streak of the season. Encouragement also came from the fact that they held Cleveland to just 36.7 percent shooting from the field all night.
But what coach Jason Kidd and his players should be most encouraged by the end of the night is the way they responded in the third quarter.
Leading 51-38 at the half, things couldn’t have been going any better for the Nets. The ball was being shared crisply, defenders were rotating and helping constantly.
Then it all began to unravel, and before anyone even had a chance to blink, Cleveland fought back and the Nets found themselves down three. It was the same nightmare Brooklyn had been reliving all season long. The third quarter — no longer than any of the other three — had once again become their kryptonite.
But this time proved to be different, simply because the Nets chose to make it that way. Instead of hanging their heads as their lead evaporated the way they always seem to do, they hung in there and stayed inspired enough to prevent the game from getting out of hand.
Just when you expected them to be down by five or 10 by the end of the third — and have that balloon to 20 at some point during the fourth — they remained relatively composed and maintained a two point lead entering the final period.
And that transitioned into a final 12 minutes that Brooklyn dominated. The scoreboard may have said they only outscored the Cavs 22-17, but it wasn’t even that close in reality, as they sustained a fairly comfortable lead throughout.
The lava rose to the top of the volcano, but instead of exploding the way it has for the Nets time and time again, it mercifully settled. And for that, they should be as encouraged as they have been at any point this season.