On Friday night, the Nets defeated the Atlanta Hawks by a final score of 94-89.
The Skinny: Deron Williams opened the game with a hot hand, scoring 10 points in the first four minutes. But just like Wednesday night, the Hawks shot lights out from the field early on, hitting seven of their first eight shots. Both teams shot a similar percentage from the field in the quarter, which ended in a tie at 29.
Andray Blatche scored the 11 of the Nets’ first 14 points of the second quarter, but the game remained close. Hawks’ reserve guard Louis Williams was taken off in a wheel chair after injuring his right knee. Jeff Teague and Devin Harris again used their speed to give the Nets fits. The Nets played better defensively in the second quarter, but they committed 13 first half turnovers. The game was tied at 49 at the break.
Brook Lopez and Deron Williams led a 6-0 Nets’ run to start the third to establish Brooklyn’s largest lead of the night. But Atlanta fought right back to take the lead on an 8-0 run. Back-and-forth lead changes and ties ensued, with Joe Johnson heating up from three-point range. Both of the first two quarters ended in a tie, so it was fitting that the game was tied at 74 through three quarters as well.
Neither team hit a field goal for nearly four minutes in the fourth quarter until Johnson knocked down a mid-range jumper. Brooklyn played great defense to start the fourth, led by Reggie Evans. Late in the fourth quarter, the Nets went on a 9-2 run to open up their largest lead of the night of eight. Atlanta again came right back with seven straight points. A pair of Williams free-throws gave the Nets a three-point lead with 45.0 seconds to play. Brook Lopez block Teague’s layup opportunity at the end, and Brooklyn regained possession. Williams hit two more free-throws to increase the lead to five with 11 seconds left. Harris missed a three-point attempt, and the Nets grabbed the rebound to seal the win.
High Scorers: Williams led all scorers with 24 points on 7-of-19 from the field and added seven assists. For the Hawks, Teague led the way with 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting and dished out 10 assists for his second straight double-double against the Nets.
Key Stats: The Nets collectively shot 25-of-38 (66 percent) from the free-throw line, which isn’t great. But the Hawks only made 10 free-throws as a team for the game.
Who Was Hot: Johnson shot 7-of-17 from the outside for 18 points. Evans was a beast on the boards, pulling down 20 rebounds, and he had two steals. Lopez scored 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Blatche finished 4-of-5 from the field with 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Harris had another solid game for the Hawks against his former team, scoring 17 points and picking up three assists. Kyle Korver shot 3-of-4 from the beyond the arc and tallied 11 points. Josh Smith finished with 12 points and nine rebounds.
Who Was Not: After being two assists shy of a triple-double Wednesday, Zaza Pachulia managed just four points and six rebounds after dealing with foul trouble all game. C.J. Watson missed all five shots from the field in this one.
Fun Fact: The game marked the 1,200th consecutive game worked for Nets’ official scorer Herb Turetzky. The streak began 29 seasons ago in May, 1984.
Jim Mancari, ContributorThis game was evenly matched through three quarters, as evidenced by tie scores after each frame.
But the Nets’ defense looked great in the fourth quarter, holding the Hawks to just 15 points in the final frame on just 5-of-22 shooting – the lowest percentage (22.7) of any team this season in a quarter.
It was a back-and-forth battle throughout, but it was a much better effort than Wednesday, in which the Nets just could not keep up with the speed of the Hawks.
Though Smith returned for the Hawks in this one, the Nets got a break with big man Al Horford missing the game with hamstring and calf injuries.
Johnson put together a much-improved performance against his former team. He shot 4-of-15 from the field for 15 points Wednesday, but he scored 18 in this one, including draining three three-pointers.
The Nets have now won seven straight games at Barclays Center and snapped Atlanta’s six-game winning streak against the Nets. The Hawks have now lost six straight games on the road.
Brooklyn (24-16) will have the weekend off before heading across the East River for a Martin Luther King Day matinee against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The 3:30 p.m. game will be televised on the YES Network and NBA TV.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.