Brooklyn (20-25) has lost four straight overall and dropped to 2-8 in the second half of back-to-back sets, as the Pacers (36-10) swept the four-game season series between the two teams.
Kevin Garnett, who finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds after being held scoreless for the first time since his rookie season (1996) Friday night, felt like the Nets gave a “valid” effort.
Kidd thought they “fought.”
And they were both right. But in a results-based business, moral victories can only carry a team and its fans so far. And after the game, there was plenty of Twitter vitriol aimed at Deron Williams, who, starting for the first time since Jan. 4, missed 10 of his first 11 shots and finished 3-for-12 from the field.
Williams had four turnovers to just one assist Friday night against OKC and hasn’t played well since turning the ball over twice in the final minute of Monday night’s one-point loss to the Toronto Raptors.
“It’s not my highest,” Williams said of his confidence, according to The New York Times. “It’s been tough, being in and out of lineups, missing two weeks here and there.”
The Nets have been a better team all season with Williams on the court, scoring 106.3 points per 100 possessions while allowing 103.8. With him off the court, they were being outscored 100.7 to 106.5 per 100 possessions.
“I thought he ran the offense and played extremely well,” Kidd said, clearly looking out for his team’s franchise player. “But I thought Shaun [Livingston] was the guy that was going tonight.”
Livingston was fantastic, scoring a season-high 24 points -- including eight straight in the third quarter to spark Brooklyn’s rally from an 11-point deficit.
“He’s been playing at a high level,” Kidd said of Livingston. “He’s been great for us on both ends.”
In the end, Paul Pierce (15 points, 5 rebounds, 6 steals) came up short on a corner 3-pointer that could’ve tied the game with four seconds left.
Livingston had two options on that play: pass to Pierce or Joe Johnson (16 points), who happened to be open at the top of the key. But Livingston, in the heat of the play, didn’t see Johnson and chose Pierce, who produced an air ball with Stephenson contesting his shot.
Stephenson had been upset that Johnson was selected as an East All-Star reserve over him. The fans chanted “Not an All-Star!” at Johnson during the game, and Stephenson exchanged jabs with the Brooklyn bench.
“I could care less if it was personal or not,” Johnson said. “He’s gotta talk that over with the coaches [who pick the reserves]. That has nothing to do with me.”
The Nets could take solace in the fact they hung tough Saturday night. But when push came to shove, they never seemed able to come up with a critical rebound.
And on this night, that proved to be the difference between winning and losing.