Jonas Valanciunas and Reggie Evans
The Brooklyn Nets snapped their season high 5-game losing streak tonight in beating the last place Toronto Raptors 94-88 north of the border in Toronto. This game was not pretty at all, especially in the first half. The Nets, led by their 3-point shooting, had a big 3rd quarter comeback and built on that lead in the fourth quarter. The Nets had a balanced scoring effort, led by Joe Johnson’s 23 points. Toronto was led by Ed Davis’s 24 points and 12 rebounds and Jonas Valanciunas also contributed 15 points.
The first half was as bad a half as the Nets have had all season. They shot under 40% from the field, under 15% from 3 and under 65% from the foul line. They couldn’t guard the Raptors front court of Ed Davis and Jonas Valanciunas, who had great shooting percentages from the field. Brooklyn was trailing by as many as 11 points. The third quarter was a different story. The Nets came out shooting well for a change. In the second half, the Nets shot a scorching 9-11 from 3, led by Joe Johnson and C.J. Watson. That was the biggest reason why they built the lead and held on to win the game. In the fourth quarter, the Nets built the lead to 15 points, but let Toronto back into the game in the last 3 minutes. The Nets had lots of careless plays and bad defense in the last couple of minutes, but the Raptors never got closer than 4 points, and Brooklyn ended up with an ugly win.
This was not a good win at all, but the Nets will have to take it. They did not play very well and struggled defensively throughout the night, but they shot well enough to win. Against a quality NBA team, or even a full strength Raptors team, the Nets would have lost tonight, but luckily they caught a shorthanded Toronto team missing 6 of their key rotation players. The Nets will need a better effort than they had tonight if they want to beat Detroit at home on Friday night.
One thing to watch in that Detroit game is if Brook Lopez will finally return. The Nets are 2-5 without Lopez after starting the season 11-4 with him. Their defense has struggled since Lopez’s injury and they need him back ASAP.
For a box score of this game, click here.
Player grades and notes:
Reggie Evans: B+
Reggie Evans scored a season high 9 points to go along with 11 rebounds. However, this was definitely one of Reggie’s poorer defensive efforts as the Raptors bigs had their way in the paint on offense. Reggie was 3-3 from the field and a surprising 3-4 from the foul line. If only he had been 4-4 from the line he would have had a double-double.
Andray Blatche: B
Blatche had a terrible first half, but a pretty good second half. In the first half, he got into foul trouble and couldn’t guard any of the Raptors’ bigs at all. He was much better in the second half, where he took over on offense at times and also had a huge reverse dunk. He finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds in 33 minutes.
Gerald Wallace: C+
Whenever the Nets are playing badly, Wallace continues hustling and trying his hardest. In the first half, he did that again. He was able to get to the foul line many times and had 11 attempts in the game. The problem was that he only made 5 of those attempts. He didn’t do much else on offense tonight and didn’t have any big Crash dunks.
Deron Williams: C
I thought Deron was finally going to have a good game tonight, but he did not. He only had 12 points and 4 assists, both well below his season averages. He only shot 5-16 from the field and had 3 turnovers. He did not attempt a free throw tonight. Against a shorthanded team like Toronto, Deron needs to play better than he did tonight.
Joe Johnson: B+
Joe Johnson had one of his better games, finishing with 23 points and 4 assists. He actually shot well today: 7/14 from the field, 4/6 from 3, 5/6 from the line. His defense on DeMar DeRozan was also very good and he held DeRozan to only 11 points.
Kris Humphries: B
Kris Humphries had a very weird game. Usually, you expect a good amount of rebounds and field goal attempts from Humphries. That did not happen tonight. Coming off the bench, he had 11 points and only 2 rebounds. To make things weirder, he only had 1 field goal attempt, a make. His other 9 points all came from the foul line, where he was 9-10, a big improvement on his typical sub-70%. I expect Humphries to return to the starting lineup once Brook Lopez comes back, which can be as soon as Friday.
C.J. Watson: A
This was Watson’s first good game in a very long time. He was on fire tonight. He shot 4-4 from 3, all in the second half, and played pretty good defense, too. He was the second leading scorer on the team with 16 points and even had 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. Nets fans were expecting big things from C.J. at the beginning of the season, and he has not lived up to expectations. Maybe he is turning things around.
After tonight, the Nets will have one day off and then have another back-to-back against Detroit at home and Chicago on the road on Friday and Saturday. We will have full coverage of those games at FRWD.