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Friday, February 1, 2013
Bench Mob comes through

By Mike Mazzeo

MarShon Brooks, Taj Gibson
MarShon Brooks scored nine of his 13 points in the fourth quarter.
The Brooklyn Nets wouldn’t have eked out a win over the hard-nosed Chicago Bulls on Friday night without reserves Andray Blatche and MarShon Brooks.

The duo -- part of the team’s "Bench Mob" -- combined for 20 points in the fourth quarter, allowing the Nets to prevail, 93-89, on Friday night at Barclays Center.

Blatche had all of his points (11), rebounds (three) and assists (three) in the final period, while Brooks added nine of his 13 as the Nets (28-19) rebounded from a 20-point loss to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.

"Without them, we don’t win this game," said point guard Deron Williams, who shot 4-for-12. "They were huge -- especially when a lot of our starters didn’t have it tonight. Those guys came in and picked up the slack for us."

Nets All-Star center Brook Lopez, who had 20 points in the first three quarters, ended up sitting out the entire fourth.

"I wouldn’t say I went with Blatche over Lopez," Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "That group [C.J. Watson, Williams, Brooks, Gerald Wallace and Blatche] was playing so good. I really didn’t want to take anyone out. Andray had it going and he was making good decisions."

So did Brooks. Carlesimo hinted that the 24-year-old shooting guard, who has been playing sporadically, wouldn’t get that many minutes against the Bulls because the matchups he would have weren’t favorable. But as it turns out, they were.

With the Nets trailing 67-63 heading into the fourth, Brooks scored nine of their first 11 points in the period, igniting a decisive 7-0 run that turned a one-point deficit into a six-point lead with a 16-foot jumper. Then Blatche took over from there.

"I’d be lying to you if I didn’t think P.J. would put Brook back in," said Blatche, who received his first extensive crunch-time minutes since Carlesimo took over for Avery Johnson.

His biggest bucket turned out to be a reverse layup turned three-point play that gave the Nets an 89-84 lead with 1:06 left.

"I just wanted to be aggressive," Blatche said. "I wanted to try to attack the rim and get easy buckets. That’s about it."

As a result, the Nets improved to 11-19 against .500-or-better opponents (at time of game played), and 14-5 under Carlesimo.

"It was great to see," said Joe Johnson, who drained a key 3-pointer from well behind the arc late in the fourth to keep the Bulls at bay. "It was great for the bench guys to come in and give us a lift. They really closed the game out for us."