Nets cruise by Cavs in laugher
March, 28, 2014
By Mike Mazzeo | ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- Get this: Jason Collins told Joe Johnson he was going to dunk.
And that’s exactly what he did.
With 48 seconds left in the fourth quarter of the Nets' 108-97 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night at Barclays Center, Collins caught Jorge Gutierrez’s look-away pass, elevated and slammed the ball through the net with two hands.
Then, Collins pointed a finger at Johnson, as if to say, "Told you."
"I don’t know how [Jason] called that," said Deron Williams, who also dunked and finished with 13 points and five assists.
It was Collins’ first dunk since Dec. 25, 2012 -- also in Brooklyn.
"Collins is the [dunk] we’re debating," Williams joked.
Make no mistake about it: D-Will’s second dunk was legit -- a two-handed slam on the breakaway in the third quarter.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesJason Collins dunked! Yep, it was that kind of night at Barclays Center.
"I don’t know if anybody is going to pay to see them in the dunk contest," Nets coach Jason Kidd joked. "Deron’s healthy, he looks great. That’s a dunk, and Jason Collins’ was a dunk, so you guys can’t get me in trouble with that."
The Nets (38-33), who snapped a two-game losing streak by recording their 12th consecutive win at Barclays Center, were in a joking mood after the game -- and with good reason.
Collins even hoisted a 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining. He missed. Badly.
"I don’t know what that was about. I’ll take the dunk before that," Williams joked.
Paul Pierce scored 17 of his 22 points in the first quarter, enabling Brooklyn to jump out to an early lead.
"Once you knock the first couple down, you feel like you’re on fire," Pierce said. "I’ve been a scorer my whole life, and all you have to do is see one go in and you feel like all of them are gonna go in."
The Nets, who led by as many as 18, shot 54.9 percent from the field, went 14-for-29 from 3-point range and got 48 points from the bench. It was the definition of a total team effort. Six different Nets scored in double figures.
"I thought everybody was touching the ball," Kidd said. "Guys were making shots. A lot of 3s we took tonight were open, and guys were knocking them down."
Pierce said the Nets were "disappointed" following consecutive overtime losses on the road to New Orleans and Charlotte.
"We felt like we should’ve won all three of those games," Pierce said, alluding to Brooklyn’s 1-2 road trip.
But the Nets got back on track in Brooklyn, where they’ve been unbeatable.
They trail the Chicago Bulls (40-32) by 1 1/2 games for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff standings, which guarantees homecourt advantage in the first round.
"We really don’t control our own destiny," Pierce said, noting that the Nets are going to have to take care of their own business and get some help.
While it’s anything but a certainty at this point, it certainly would be a boost for Brooklyn if it were able to host Game 1 of the playoffs at Barclays Center.
"We definitely feel like we have a home-court advantage this year," Williams said.