On Wednesday night, the Nets defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder by a final score of 110-93.
The Skinny: The Nets jumped out to an 11-3 lead, with strong offensive and defensive play, which forced Thunder head coach Scott Brooks to take an early timeout. Joe Johnson scored 10 points in just over four minutes, and Brook Lopez drilled a few outside jumpers, leading to another Brooks timeout. Johnson and Lopez combined for 22 of the Nets’ 33 points in the first quarter, giving Brooklyn a 14-point lead after one.
The Thunder gained a bit of momentum to start the second quarter, but a strategic P.J. Carlesimo timeout helped the Nets open a 22-point lead at the midway point of the quarter. The offensive pace picked up on both ends of the floor, and a 9-0 Thunder run, led by Russell Westbrook, got the crowd back into the game. However, the run barely made a dent into the Nets’ lead. Johnson finished the half with 20 points, while Deron Williams added 10 points and nine assists, helping the Nets maintain a 16-point lead at the break.
Both teams were sloppy to start the third quarter, but Oklahoma City was able to orchestrate a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to nine. The Thunder quickly got to within three as Kevin Durant began heating up from the field. Brooklyn only managed 15 points on 6-of-18 shooting in the third quarter, while the Thunder poured in 27 points to trail by just four after three.
A Kevin Martin three early in the fourth cut the Nets’ lead to one. Johnson helped the Nets increase the lead back to six, but another Martin three tied the game at 85 with seven minutes to play – the first tie of the game. Brooklyn followed with a 10-1 run, as the Nets were effective in getting to the free-throw line. A Lopez acrobatic layup help the Nets regain a double-digit lead. Frustration began to mount for the Thunder, as Durant was ejected arguing an offensive foul call on Kendrick Perkins. The Nets cruised down the stretch for the impressive win.
High Scorers: Johnson led all scorers with a season-high 33 points on 11-of-19 shooting, including 5-of-10 from three-point range. For the Thunder, Durant led the way with 27 points on 11-of-17 from the field.
Key Stats: The Nets scored a season-high 34 points in the fourth quarter after being outscored 27-15 in the third quarter.
Who Was Hot: Williams had a double-double with 19 points and 13 assists. Lopez added 25 points and five rebounds. Kris Humphries was effective off the bench, scoring 11 points in 25:15. Westbrook had a double-double for the Thunder with 26 points and 10 assists.
Who Was Not: After not committing a turnover in the first quarter, the Nets had 13 over the final three quarters, which allowed the Thunder to get back in the game.
Fun Fact: Carlesimo was 1-12 in 13 games as the first-ever head coach for the Thunder to start the 2008-2009 season.
Jim MancariWhat a statement win for the Nets, though it got ugly at one point, and of course it was the customary third quarter Nets’ swoon.
But Brooklyn recovered with a dominant fourth quarter against the NBA’s best team. The Nets snapped their seven-game losing streak against the Thunder and earned their first win in four tries in Oklahoma City.
The Thunder were 16-2 at home and had won 12 straight home games before the loss. Meanwhile, the Nets snapped their four-game road losing streak with the win.
It’s still a concern that the Nets blew a 23-point lead, but the Thunder were bound to come storming back after a slow first half.
Johnson and Lopez had big games, but it was great to see a strong effort from D-Will, who was extremely hard on himself after Monday night’s blowout loss to the Spurs.
Brooklyn (17-15) returns to action Friday night at the Verizon Center in Washington against the NBA-worst Wizards. The 7 p.m. game will be televised on the YES Network.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.