The Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Bobcats are currently dueling it out at the bottom of the playoff standings in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Coming into their matchup on Wednesday night, the Nets held just a 1.5-game lead over the Bobcats—a margin the Bobcats were looking to close.
In the first half, the Bobcats were hanging around and staying within striking distance, going into the locker room for halftime trailing by just six points. However, the Nets pulled out to a big lead with a 35-point third quarter and coasted to a 105-89 victory from that point on.
Paul Pierce was big for Brooklyn offensively. Playing just 22 minutes, Pierce still managed 25 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block while shooting 9-11 from the field and a scalding 5-5 from long-distance. However, the Nets’ defense was the real secret to their success.
In the first quarter, which the Nets won by just one point, Al Jefferson was a force for the Bobcats offensively, putting up 11 points in the period. However, the Nets and head coach Jason Kidd made adjustments and started bringing the double-team to Jefferson down low, which rendered him virtually ineffective. After his 11-point first quarter, Jefferson finished with just 12 points on 5-13 shooting for the night.
The win over Charlotte moves the Nets to 14-5 since the start of January. A big reason for that push since the turning of the calendar year has actually been their defense. In the new year, the Nets have been the fourth best defensive team in the league, surrendering only 101 points per 100 possessions. Their offense has come along as well, averaging 105.6 points per 100 possessions, but their defense has been the catalyst for their success. If they can continue developing as a team and under Kidd, this team could be a problem come playoff time.