The game was there for the Nets to lose Tuesday night at Barclays Center. And, perhaps the 2013 version of this Brooklyn team would have wilted. But this incarnation, the one with an 8-1 record in the New Year, is a different beast altogether. These are not the Nets we had seen for their previous 31 games of the season. Up only four at the half-time break, the danger of letting the second game of a back-to-back slip away was imminent – more so given the team’s 2013 penchant for disappearing in third quarters.
The Nets, though, got stronger in the second-half (they held Orlando to just 14-points on 3-for-21 shooting in the third quarter) to run away with a 101-90 victory – their sixth straight home win.
“We got that swag now that we feel we can beat anybody when we get out there, so that’s kind of what we’ve been missing,” point guard Deron Williams said.
The consistency is finally there for Brooklyn. Their offense is fluid, and the defense -especially since Kevin Garnett has moved to center- has become stifling. Three weeks ago the Nets were 11 games under .500 and playing a brand of basketball that was hard to watch. Now, they sit just two games behind the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors for fourth in the conference.
Their future is looking brighter.
“The biggest thing about this turnaround is we never got down on one another,” forward Paul Pierce said. “We’ve never had the finger pointing, we’ve never put the blame on anybody but ourselves. We kept coming to work, kept staying professional because we still believed we’d turn this thing around.
“The thing is, when you believe and you continue to get through the tough patches, it shows how things can kind of turnaround, and that’s what you see right now.”
Befitting of the New Year, the new-look Nets are a completely different team on the court as well. If head coach Jason Kidd was being criticized his lack of expertise in his coaching ability early in the season, he should now be given some of the credit for turning a team that was all too happy hoisting up isolation jump-shots, into one that moves the ball, and waits until it has just the right shot.
“The guys are playing extremely well right now,” Kidd said. “Offensively, when I look at 29 assists (from the team), that means everybody’s touching the ball and that’s a lot of fun to watch.”