Monday, January 14, 2013
Nets ramp up defense in comeback victory
By Mike Mazzeo
Interim coach P.J. Carlesimo gave the Brooklyn Nets a Monday off.
They earned it by playing arguably their best fourth quarter of the season Sunday night against the Indiana Pacers.
D-Will, Reggie Evans and the Nets didn't allow George Hill's Pacers room to move in the fourth.
The Nets, who shot just 37.3 percent through the first three quarters, trailed the Pacers 77-69 with 10:57 remaining. But they scored 17 unanswered points to take control, and came away with a hard-fought 97-86 victory at Barclays Center.
The Nets will carry a season-high six-game winning streak into Tuesday night's game against the Toronto Raptors, their longest winning streak since 2006.
During the 17-0 run on Sunday, the Pacers missed eight straight shots as the Nets ratcheted up their intensity on the defensive end. Brooklyn held Indiana to just 11 points -- the fewest points it has allowed in the fourth quarter this season -- on 3-for-22 shooting. Unexpected, considering tenacious defender Gerald Wallace sat out with bruised ribs.
The Nets, meanwhile, scored 28 points in the fourth and shot 57.1 percent.
"We stepped our defense up," said point guard Deron Williams, who scored 22 points, dished out nine assists and grabbed five rebounds. "We talked about it in the huddle. Going into the fourth, we needed to up our defense and be dedicated to getting stops, and that's what we did."
Williams (four points), Joe Johnson (six points) and Brook Lopez (10 points, 1-for-8 coming into the fourth) combined for 20 points in the final period -- including 15 of the 17 unanswered points.
Sunday night's game tipped off a stretch of eight of 11 for the Nets against above-.500 teams. They are 14-0 on the season against sub-.500 teams, but just 8-15 against teams with winning records.
"This was a big game for us," Williams said. "We had won five in a row, but most of them have come against teams with below-.500 records.
"This was a good test for us, a good challenge against a good team, and we came ready and stepped up our game in the fourth quarter."