- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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WHAT IT MEANS: The Brooklyn Nets -- yes, the same Brooklyn Nets who came in averaging just 94.7 points per game, good for 21st in NBA -- exploded on offense without their $98 million point guard and will enter the All-Star break on a high note.
Despite not having Deron Williams for a second straight game due to inflammation in his ankles, the Nets shot 54.7 percent from the field, tied their season high with 16 3-pointers and beat the Denver Nuggets 119-108 on Wednesday night at Barclays Center.
The Nets (31-22), who also scored a season-high 119 points, have now won two in a row and improved to 13-20 against teams with .500-or-better records (at time of game played). They are 19-10 at home and 17-8 overall under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo.
Joe Johnson recorded his first 20-point-plus game since Jan. 21 (12 games), finishing with 26 points to go along with a season-high nine assists. It was the first time the Nets scored 100 points in a win since Jan. 15.
C.J.'S WAY: C.J. Watson, who went 0-for-7 on Monday night, finished with season highs in points (25) and assists (six). He shot 8-for-12 from the field.
Kris Humphries finished with 14 points and four rebounds in 19 minutes -- the first time he has reached double figures in scoring since Jan. 21 against the Knicks.
BROOK-LYN: Brook Lopez capped off a fantastic first half of the season with 23 points and eight rebounds. Lopez, who shed his curls and now sports a shaved head, told the crowd prior to tipoff that it will be an honor to represent the Nets at his first All-Star Game on Sunday.
THIRD IS THE GOOD WORD: The Nets started the third quarter on a 21-4 run to take an 83-63 lead.
SECOND IS THE BEST: The Nets, who were outscored by 66 in their past six second quarters combined, won the second 39-31 (a season high for points scored in a quarter). They shot 61.1 percent in the period and went 5-for-8 from 3-point range.
THROW IT DOWN: In the first quarter, JaVale McGee "threw in" a beyond-half-court alley-oop, Dwight Howard/Blake Griffin-style, never touching rim. McGee had two alley-oop finishes in the first quarter. He also had an emphatic one-handed slam in the fourth.
UP NEXT: The All-Star break. Then Nets vs. Bucks on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
4dMarc Stein and Mike Mazzeo