The NBA keeps sending the Brooklyn Nets to play in London, and the improving team keeps on winning. The Nets beat the Atlanta Hawks 127-110 in yet another special shooting performance from Joe Johnson.
The 16-22 Nets are 8-3 when Johnson scores more than 20 points, which means that they need to start giving him the ball more, even when Deron Williams is playing (hurt his ankle and missed the game). He finished with 29 points in 30 minutes, including 26 in the first half (2nd game this season with at least 26 points in the 1st half ), finishing with 11-of-15 from the field and an even better 6-of-8 from beyond the arc.
We just exploited mismatches. I was just feeding off these guys. We had a lot of ball movement and took a lot of open shots. The ball was moving, guys were looking for each other and finding each other.
The Hawks are already without Al Horford, but DeMarre Carroll also missed the game, which meant the Hawks played with three guards in the lineup – Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver and Lou Williams. It was too difficult for them to maintain any kind of defense with that group on the floor, making it very easy for Johnson to dominate, as the margin grew with every quarter that went by.
The Hawks did try to speed up things and tire the old legs of the Nets’ players, but they weren’t accurate enough or smart enough in their ball movement, turning the ball over 15 times, while Kyle Korver, who continues his impressive streak of consecutive games with 3-pointers, was mostly cold throughout the game, hitting only one of his nine field goal attempts. In an offense that relies so much on Korver being accurate, there’s just no way to overcome defensive problems and his misses all in one night. Jeff Teague (4-of-13 from the field) wasn’t much better.
This was a good chance for the Nets to rest Kevin Garnett, who played 18 minutes and enjoyed his teammates’ performances from the sideline, soaking in the celebrity kind of atmosphere in the O2 arena in London.
We’ve got the best seat in the house. When you’re so used to being in that situation yourself, it’s great to have a guy who can just take over the game.
Paul Pierce scored 18 points, Andray Blatche had 20 off the bench and Alan Anderson scored 15. The Hawks had a problem with the Nets’ length and size advantage, with Shaun Livingston making life miserable once again for another point guard, and the addition of Teletovic and Kirilenko off the bench didn’t make it any easier for the Hawks.
The Nets have found their groove. The ball is moving, and their defense is finally playing like many expected it to. It’s hard to tell if this is Jason Kidd’s doing or the unexplained effort and energy factor that goes up and down for NBA teams during a long and grueling season, but whatever it is, it’s working. No one expects the Nets to be challenging for the Eastern title anymore, but with this kind of form and ability they’re going to be trouble in the playoffs no matter who gets in the way.