When your point guard has his best game of the season, it usually bodes well for the rest of the team. Deron Williams shined, and so did the rest of the Brooklyn Nets with another impressive home win and defensive performance, this time over the Phoenix Suns 108-95.
Deron Williams scored 28 points, and although the best dunk of the game happened to be Gerald Green’s impressive elevation, Williams himself dunked the ball to end a fast break which started with a steal by Andrei Kirilenko, with the Nets forcing 16 turnovers throughout the game against the slipping Suns.
Williams shot 11-of-13 from the field, adding 4 assists, and looked like the ankle problems that have been bothering him for quite some time are gone, and he’s ready to play meaningful minutes for the Nets as their starting point guard without the need for too much rest. However, there’s always Shaun Livingston to help out, adding 12 points and 5 assists, once again helping create mismatches for the Nets against the small lineups the Suns used all game long.
Williams and Livingston weren’t alone in the comfortable win. Joe Johnson finished with 19 points, Mason Plumlee had a 14 points, 11 rebounds double double while playing against his older brother, who didn’t have a very productive game for the Suns at center. Paul Pierce scored 10 points in another one of those games in which the Nets make you feel that at their healthiest (still without Kevin Garnett), they have the tools, depth and basketball smarts to beat pretty much anyone in the league, and that their record in 2014, the best in the conference, is no fluke.
For the Suns, it is a painful slide. After being the official refreshment and feel-good team in the West, they’re sliding out of the playoff picture, finding themselves behind both the Grizzlies and the Mavs, who aren’t experiencing the same kind of drop in ability. Eric Bledsoe is back, which means less time on the ball for Dragic, and less minutes for Gerald Green, finding himself on the bench again. Maybe Jeff Hornacek needs to change his rotation a bit , at least until Bledsoe is playing like he did earlier in the season.
Brooklyn have also been altering rotations and lineups all seasons, but that was until Jason Kidd finally got it right. Missing Garnett hasn’t really hurt the team, getting quality minutes from Plumlee, and plenty of help from Kirilenko and Blatche coming off the bench.
The Nets have surprising depth considering so much money is invested in very few players on this team, but it turns out that whoever built this team didn’t do such a bad job, as they remain in contention for the fourth or third spot in the East, which will give them at least one round of home court advantage.
Considering how well they’ve been playing at home of late, keeping teams under 100 points every time over the last nine wins, it’s quite crucial for them to make it into the top four in the East. They have experience, which means good things for teams on the road, but considering their problems with a congested schedule, too much travelling won’t do this team a world of good.