Whether its injuries or a lack of playing time together the Brooklyn Nets have struggled in 2013 winning just 10 of their first 31 games of the season. This same Nets team has won all 4 of its games so far in 2014. Many excited Brooklyn fans like to attribute the team’s success in the new year to the Nets Coach Jason Kidd who has not worn a tie during the teams current winning streak. Both teams wore a very different type of jersey on Friday, jerseys the dawned there nicknames. For example, Kevin Garnett wore ‘Big Ticket’, and Paul Pierce wore ‘The Truth’. The Nets took on two time defending champion Miami Heat on Friday night, and it wouldn’t be Jason Kidd’s tieless attire that would lead the Nets to victory.
Heading into Friday night’s matchup the Nets had plenty of confidence. The Nets came storming out of the gate scoring 33 points in the first quarter with Joe “JJ” Johnson leading the way scoring an incredible 22 points in the first quarter alone. Unfortunately for the Nets, they had to defend a player with ‘King James’ on the back of his jersey. Lebron would score 16 points in the first quarter on the familiar but slower defender Paul “The Truth” Pierce. Changing it up in the second quarter Coach Kidd decided to give guard Alan Anderson a turn at guarding the 4-time MVP. This defensive tactic would work as Anderson was able to hold Lebron scoreless in the quarter. When Lebron James has trouble scoring, Miami’s offense is not as fluent. The Nets would hold the Heat to just 13 points in the second and Brooklyn would lead Miami by 8 at the half.
The Nets would continue their roll into the fourth quarter. That was until Lebron James took it upon himself, as he usually does, to get Miami back in the game. James would go on to score 11 points in the quarter, two shy of the Nets total offensive output in the 4th. After being down 12 heading into the quarter Miami was able to claw their way back up and tie the game at 89 and force the game into overtime.
The Nets up by two with thirty-six seconds left in overtime, the ball was in Lebron’s hands. As Lebron ran into the paint Nets guard Shaun Livingston stood pat and absorbed the hit taken from the 6’8 250lb superhuman forward. With that offensive foul called on Lebron, he had fouled out. This was the first time Lebron James had fouled out in an NBA game since the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals(Yes, you read that correctly). Miami’s guard Norris Cole was able to come up in the clutch with Lebron on the bench and hit a mid range jumper to tie the game and force a second overtime.
With Norris Cole’s game-tying shot, the Heat were only delaying the inevitable. The best player in the league Lebron James had fouled out and they already were without Dwayne Wade, Shane Battier, and Mario Chalmers out with injuries. The lack of Lebron James really showed after he fouled out, this severely limited Miami’s offensive options in the second overtime. Shaun Livingston carried the Nets in the 2nd OT with 4 points to go along with 2 blocks, both of which were shots taken by future Hall of Famer Ray Allen. Livingston finished with 19 points to go along with 11 boards and 3 blocks. The Nets would go on to win 104-95 in what was there second win of the season over Miami. Joe Johnson was even more impressive as he finished with 32 points on 14-25 shooting. Paul Pierce ended up scoring 23 points on the evening continuing his up and down season. Lebron James, finished with 36 points.
Though Miami was not at full strength this was a statement game made by Brooklyn. This is a team who lost more than double the amount of games they won in the first 31 games of the season. This 5 game winning streak is no fluke. Since the new year Brooklyn has beaten top tier opponents such as Oklahoma City, Golden State, and now the defending champs. This Nets team is beginning to trust each other more and more after each game. With Jason Kidd growing out a scruffy beard and not wearing a tie, it seems as if he is trying to relax more and is allowing his team to do so as well. Heading into the season the sky was ceiling for this team and so was the pressure to win immediately. With the Nets going with a more relaxed approach on the court they are beginning to play much smoother as a unit. One can attribute the team’s success to Jason Kidd not wearing a tie, but I call it chemistry.
The Nets head north of the border Saturday night to take on DeMar DeRozan and the suddenly hot Toronto Raptors. The game tips off at 7:00PM EST.