Deron Williams and Chris Paul
Tonight, the Brooklyn Nets had arguably their most impressive win of the year, defeating the previously 8-3 Los Angeles Clippers in Brooklyn. Brook Lopez led the way for the Nets with 26 points and 3 blocks. Joe Johnson also added 19 points. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin each scored 14 points for L.A.
This was a big statement win for Brooklyn. Coming into the game, this team had looked unimpressive, especially in blowing a lead and losing to Golden State in their last game. Along with the victory over the Celtics last week, this was one of the best performances I have seen in this young season.
I was most impressed by the Nets tonight because they were able to pull away and win a close game against a good team. This game was very close throughout. After the first quarter, the score was 25-25. The Clippers pulled away at the end of the second quarter to grab a 7 point lead, but the Nets fought back to tie the game at 63 heading into the fourth quarter. They dominated L.A. in the fourth, holding the Clippers to only 13 points.
The Nets’ defense was the key tonight. Although they are definitely not known as a defensive team, at least not yet, they looked great against a high-power offense led by one of the best point guards in Chris Paul. They held the Clippers to only 40% shooting from the field and they forced 18 turnovers with some important turnovers coming in the fourth quarter.
The key to this defense is clearly Gerald Wallace. This was the first game he was 100% healthy since the first game of the season, and, not surprisingly, this was the best the Nets’ defense has looked all season. Due to Wallace’s “crashy” style of play, I hope he does not get injured again, but the Nets should prepare for the worst.
For a box score of this game, click here.
Player grades and notes:
Kris Humphries: D
What is going on with Kris Humphries? He only scored 2 points, but that is understandable; that is not his role on this team. However, he only had 3 rebounds in 24 minutes. He needs to do better. The Nets signed him to a $24 million contract to get rebounds, and this game was clearly not his best effort. He was invisible for most of the night, leading Avery to bench him in favor of Reggie Evans in the fourth quarter.
Gerald Wallace: B-
We can now see what Gerald Wallace’s role will be on this team this year. He will not be asked to score much at all. However, he is the best defender on this team, and he played very well on defense tonight and was a big reason L.A. only scored 76 points. One issue for Wallace has been his foul shooting. Tonight he was only 1-4.
Brook Lopez: A
Aside from rebounding, Lopez played an excellent game. He was 13-24 from the field, although it seemed like he was much better than that, and he scored 26 points to go along with 3 blocks on defense. On defense, he limited DeAndre Jordan to 5-14 from the field, a terrible percentage from him. The only baskets he scored were un-boxed-out dunks, which were Lopez’s fault. If he can somehow learn to rebound, Lopez could become the best center in the NBA.
Deron Williams: B-
Deron again did not play especially well. He was not looking to score much at all tonight, but he was able to find Brook Lopez for some very easy dunks, which helped the offense a lot. He did a solid job guarding Chris Paul, who only had a few wide open looks. Injuries continue to be a problem for Deron. He was holding his wrist multiple times throughout the night, although he never left the game because of it. I wish his body was healthier.
Joe Johnson: A-
This was Johnson’s first full, 4-quarter game. He scored 10 points in the first half, and had 9 in the second half, including a dagger 3-pointer to put the game away for Brooklyn. Although he only had 1 rebound and no assists, I would prefer him having this type of game where he is able to score near 20 points. He was also 8-12 from the field, a big improvement on what we’ve seen earlier in the season. Hopefully this game will jump start Johnson’s season.
Reggie Evans: A
Where would the Nets be without Reggie Evans? I can tell you this: they wouldn’t have won this game tonight if not for him. He was the only Net doing any rebounding at all and finished the game with 12 boards in 22 minutes. Because The Hump wasn’t rebounding tonight, Coach Avery played Evans in the fourth quarter over Humphries, and Evans continued playing well. Because it is Thanksgiving, Nets fans should be thankful for Evans.
The Nets will have a day off in Brooklyn tomorrow and then they will play Portland at 3 PM on Sunday at Barclays Center. After playing so well tonight, the Nets should easily win that game. We will have full coverage of that here at FRWD.