Game Recap: Pelicans 102 — Nets 96

Recap: The Nets lost for the first time since the All-Star break as the race for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot got even tighter.

Need to Know: The Nets couldn’t keep up in the second half with the Pelicans, who were missing their three top scorers.

The Nets are tied with Charlotte for eighth in the East (23-32), one game ahead of Detroit, Indiana and Boston.

Quincy Pondexter led the Pelicans with a career-high 25 points, making four of eight threes. New Orleans was 11-for-25 behind the arc, the Nets 7-for-21. . .The Pelicans shot 51.4 percent overall and had 26 assists on 38 baskets.

The Nets’ Joe Johnson (team-high 21 points) became the 63rd player in NBA history to reach 18,000 career points. He joined Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter and Dale Ellis as the only players with 18,000 points and 1,600 threes.

Deron Williams had 10 points (4-for-14 shooting) and six assists after two strong games. He did cross up Pondexter on a move that went viral. . .Markel Brown (eight points) had a dunk that also got play on social media.

Thaddeus Young had 19 points in his third game with Brooklyn, all in the first three quarters. Brook Lopez added 15, all in the first half.

Links: AP recap | Box Score

What’s Next: The Nets head to Texas for the final two games of their eight-game road trip. They visit Houston Friday (8 p.m.) and Dallas Saturday (8:30 p.m.)

Tonight’s Game: Nets at Pelicans

The Nets are in  New Orleans on Wednesday to take on the Pelicans.

The game is scheduled for 8 p.m. on YES and WCBS.

Alan Anderson, Joe Johnson, Mason Plumlee, Markel Brown and Deron Williams are expected to start.

Recent Meetings

Deron Williams averaged 16.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 5.5 apg and 1.5 spg in 33.0 mpg in the Nets’ two games against New Orleans last season.

3/24/14: In their overtime loss to the Pelicans, the Nets became the first of two teams in the NBA last season and just the fourth of six teams in NBA history to attempt 40+ three-pointers and 30+ free throws in the same game. The 40 three-point attempts also marked a franchise record.

2/9/14: The Nets won for the first time in their NBA history when no starters scored in double figures (via Elias), as Mason Plumlee led the Nets with a double-double off the bench (22 points, 13 rebounds).

robinson scream

Sixers claim Thomas Robinson

The Sixers are likely to place a claim on Thomas Robinson. (Woj, Feb 24)

UPDATE. 4:53 PM: Philadelphia has indeed claimed Robinson. (Woj, Feb 24)

Robinson was waived earlier this week by Denver after being acquired in a deal with Portland.

The Nets had planned to sign him to a 10-day contract, and would have done so if Philadelphia had not used their claim by the deadline at 5:00 PM. (Woj, Feb 24)

Woj’s full story says the Sixers could still waive Robinson, opening up an avenue to him signing with the Nets.

Brian Erni

I’m not surprised by this, as Robinson isn’t a typical waiver wire cast off. He has a nice skill set and would be a good, cost-effective add to Philadelphia’s roster, which would push the Sixers over the minimum team salary requirements. That said, I’m disappointed to see the Nets lose out. I thought Robinson would give Brooklyn some versatility that they could sorely use.

Markel Brown surprised himself in first NBA start

Markel Brown helped the Nets topple the Nuggets 110-82 Monday night in a standout first NBA performance, notching 10 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and two steals in 45 minutes (Post, Feb. 24).

“I didn’t realistically think about even playing that much,” Brown said after the win. “But I’m happy with the outcome, I’m happy we were able to get the win, and I’m happy I was able to contribute and help the team out.”

Brown played for 15 minutes in Friday’s victory over the Lakers, and while he has repeatedly earned the praise of Nets coach Lionel Hollins, Brown has injuries to thank, in part, for his first NBA start.

With Jarrett Jack out with a hamstring issue and Bojan Bogdanovic with an ankle injury, Hollins chose to slate Brown in for the start. The 6-3 guard impressed himself and his teammates.

“I thought he played really great tonight,” Deron Williams said. “He did everything. I thought his defense was great, he was blocking shots, he was active … he just played with a lot of confidence, and that’s great to see.

“I know it’s been tough on him this year, not really getting much time, but it speaks a lot about him to be patient and sit over there, and he stepped up in a big way.”

Brian Erni

I don’t know if Brown will see this much time once Bojan and Jack are healthy, but he should at least get some consideration. As much as I like Bogdanovic, he’s not as effective of a rebounder as Brown is, and that’s one area where the Nets really struggle. If Brooklyn is going to continue to play small, they need the extra athleticism, and Markel’s youth and size make him more capable of keeping up with teams that play faster up and down the floor. I know we’re dealing with a tiny sample size, but Lionel Hollins has gone on far less this season to get players into the rotation. For the time being, Brown needs to keep racking up the minutes.

Small ball working again for the Nets

The Nets are playing small and coming up big.

In the wake of the trade of Kevin Garnett, Brooklyn has been playing with a smaller lineup and has won two consecutive games on the road as a result. One player who likes it? Deron Williams, who said this type of game just works better for his game and the Nets’ personnel as a whole.

“The court’s a lot more open when we play small like this,” Williams told reporters after the thrashing of the Nuggets on Monday night. “When you play [Markel Brown], when you play Cory [Jefferson], we’re a lot more athletic. We can get out and run and that suits me.”

Brian Erni

Small ball saved the Nets’ 2013-14 season and now it has them 2-0 after the All Star break. I’m not sure why it took the Nets so long to get back to what worked so well last year under Jason Kidd. Maybe Lionel Hollins felt he had an obligation to Kevin Garnett, and it was just too hard of a rotation to crack for guys like Brown and Jefferson. Whatever the case may be, the way Brooklyn flew around the court on Monday was a sight for sore eyes.

Brown had 11 rebounds over the course of his 45 minutes, as he beat Nuggets rebounders to their position and outworked them for the loose balls. Jefferson was 3-of-4 from the field and had five rebounds of his own. And as the Nets’ youngsters were cut loose, Williams racked up his second straight double digit assist game (12), en route to a +18 on the night. This is Brooklyn’s game, and it only took them four months to find it. But now that they have, they need to stick with what works if they hope to hold onto that eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

Game Recap: Nets 110 – Nuggets 82

Recap: The Nets blew out the Nuggets on Monday night in Denver.

Need to Know: After falling behind by the score of 16-10 midway through the first quarter, the Nets picked it up the rest of the way, outscoring Denver 16-7 to take a 26-23 lead heading into the second.

The Nets started out slowly in the second quarter, falling behind 31-30 before a surge gave them a 54-45 lead going into the half.

In the third quarter, Brooklyn pulled away, outscoring the Nuggets 31-24 to take an 85-69 lead and put the game out of reach.

Rookie Markel Brown made an impact in his first career start, scoring 10 points, grabbing 11 boards and blocking 4 shots.

Aside from Brown, six other Nets scored in double-figures.

Links: AP recap | Box Score

What’s Next: The Nets head to New Orleans to take on the Pelicans on Wednesday night at 8.