On Friday night, the Nets defeated the Phoenix Suns by a final score of 99-79.
The Skinny: Already playing without Kris Humphries, Jerry Stackhouse and Mirza Teletovic, the Nets received another injury blow when Gerald Wallace was fouled hard on a dunk attempt in the opening minutes by Suns’ forward P.J. Tucker and forced to go to the locker room. He suffered bruised ribs and would not return. Phoenix started ice cold from the field from but started making shots as the quarter progressed and led by four after one.
After tying the game early in the second quarter, the Nets fell behind by six, as Shannon Brown and the Suns’ reserves orchestrated a 9-2 run. Brooklyn was able to consistently get to the charity stripe and knock down free-throws to keep the game close. But the Suns increased their lead to 11 by attacking the rim and cleaning up on the glass. Phoenix shot 55 percent from the field and scored nearly half of their points in the paint in the first half to lead by seven at the break.
The injury bug continued to plague the Nets as Deron Williams went down hard early in the third quarter when his right thigh banged into Goran Dragic’s knee. But he remained in the game despite the pain. Brooklyn went on a 14-2 run to take their first lead since 28-27 early in the second quarter. Andray Blatche and MarShon Brooks carried the Nets offense in the third quarter, which ended with Brooklyn leading by eight. The Suns scored just 13 points in the frame.
The Nets kept up their offensive pace to start the fourth. Back-to-back three-pointers from Joe Johnson gave Brooklyn an 18-point lead halfway through the final frame. The Nets once again were able to empty the bench and cruise to another victory, as the Suns scored just 13 points in the fourth as well.
High Scorers: Johnson led all scorers with 19 points on 8-of-19 shooting. For the Suns, Jared Dudley led the way with 18 points on 6-of-9 from the field including 4-of-4 from three-point range.
Key Stats: The Nets made 25-of-32 free-throw attempts, while the Suns managed just 10-of-16 from the line. Phoenix committed 30 fouls in the game. The Suns also shot an abysmal 9-of-38 from the field in the second half.
Who Was Hot: Brooks scored a season-high 17 points in just 22:17. Blatche finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. Even with a right knee contusion, Williams managed 15 points. Brown scored 15 points off the bench for Phoenix.
Who Was Not: Despite his recent hot streak, Brook Lopez was cold from the field, shooting 5-of-16 for 13 points. For the Suns, big men Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola were in foul trouble all game and combined to shoot 10-of-23 for a combined 21 points.
Fun Fact: Suns’ backup guard Sebastian Telfair attended Abraham Lincoln H.S. in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn before being the 13th overall of the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2004 NBA Draft. He finished his homecoming game with seven points and four fouls in 17:08. When asked by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News if he missed living and playing in New York. Telfair responded: “No. Not at all.”
Jim MancariThe first half was ugly, but the Nets continue to find ways to win games and to win them big.
Brooklyn actually had more free-throws in the first half (17) than field goals (13), but the team once again exploded in the third quarter. Not only did the Nets outscore the Suns, 28-13, but the Nets also played great defense in the third for the second straight game.
The Nets received contributions from a variety of sources, as five players finished with double-digit points and the bench contributed 45 points. The team needed this collective effort after Wallace went down early and Williams played banged up.
The Suns just forgot to come out of the locker room for the second half. They only scores 26 points in the half, which is the lowest by any Nets’ opponent in any half this season.
So the Nets keep their 2013 winning streak alive and have matched their season-high five-game winning streak. The team has now won seven of P.J. Carlesimo’s first eight games.
The Suns were going for their 2,000th win in franchise history but instead suffered their fifth consecutive loss and 12th straight road loss this season. The Nets move to 14-0 against teams under .500 and are the only team in the NBA to be undefeated against such teams.
The Nets also made history by earning their third straight win by 20 or more points. This was the first time the Nets achieved that feat in the NBA. The New York Nets of the ABA led by Julius Erving had a similar stretch from Feb. 19-23, 1975.
The level of competition heats up Sunday as Brooklyn (21-15) hosts the Indiana Pacers. The 6 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.