C.J. Watson hit a career-high five threes tonight and scored a season-high 25 points
It's normally bad when the Nets are forced to play the tempo of a more fast-paced team such as the Nuggets, which is something that happened tonight. However, instead of faltering, Brooklyn thrived in the quickly-moving game, hitting a season-high 16 three-pointers (out of 27 attempts) and weathering a mixed-third-and-fourth quarter run from the Nuggets who cut a 20-point Nets lead down to five at one point in the final 12 minutes before one of C.J. Watson's three-pointers put the game away.
Both the Nuggets and Nets started off tonight's proceedings pretty cold from the floor with each team only having 15 points apiece at the 2:35 mark of the first before some late hot shooting brought the tally up to 26-23 in Denver's favor by quarter's end. The Nets got their perimeter shooting accuracy started right away with four triples in the game's first 12 minute. Ironically, they managed to keep that four three-pointer-a-quarter pace throughout, ending up with 16 total on the night for four per.
The Nets really attempted to break this game open in the second quarter as reserves Watson (started tonight but normally is a bench player), Tyshawn Taylor, and Keith Bogans began to enforce Brooklyn's barrage of threes on the injury-riddled Nuggets, who simply couldn't get out to the three-point line fast enough to guard them. Helped out later on in the second with a few Joe Johnson threes and some of Brook Lopez' 23 points, this unit turned the tide of the contest, changing it from a close battle to a near-blowout, a near-blowout that became a temporary blowout in the third quarter.
The starters, after halftime in the third quarter, picked up where the bench guys left off in the second. Finally, the Nets were able to get both a productive second and third quarter in the same game, a rare luxury which made a huge difference between them winning tonight's game going away--as they did--and them losing the game after a hypothetical Denver third quarter comeback that never came to fruition.
However, even Brooklyn's 39-point second period and 33-point third weren't enough to fully put away a pesky Nuggets team that kept climbing back within single digits in the fourth until C.J.'s put-a-way three which sealed the deal. Back-to-back games for the Nets. Back-to-back wins over (probable) playoff teams. Great stretch of ball to help the Nets rebound from a tough loss to the Wizards.
Some other observations I had from the game: Obviously, another great game from Brook Lopez (23 points on 9-13 shooting, eight rebounds, +18) who was also joined in the 20+ point category by C.J. Watson (25 points on 8-12 shooting, 5-7 from three, six assists, +13)--who had his game of the season and maybe career as well--and Joe Johnson (26 points on 10-19 shooting, 5-9 from three, nine assists, +7). Denver had no answer for this makeshift Big Three as Joe and C.J. lit it up from behind the arc while Brook dominated the paint. I really like how C.J. played very poorly last game against Indiana and clearly stepped it up tonight. It may be over-reacting by me but it's continued a trend with the Nets this year of putting past poor performances to the side quickly in lieu of newer, more productive and victorious efforts......Gerald Wallace and Reggie Evans didn't put up many points tonight but also had big impacts, clocking in with a +22 and +20 rating respectively. Gerald hit a pair of threes but also collected a game-high nine rebounds, stuffed a game-high three shots, and even had five dishes as well. Reggie scored six points (all on free throws) and collected seven boards of his own on the night. However, he made it to the line on five different occasions (2 FTs apiece), which helped the Nets get Denver into foul trouble early.......Blatche showed basically nothing again in his severely limited playing time.....Hump, Bogans, and Tyshawn contributed nicely off the bench as changes of pace from Brook, Joe, and C.J.. Hump made a ton of jumpers early and banged down low while Keith and Tyshawn hit some threes and worked to spread the floor well.
The Nets, other than Brook Lopez, who will be in the All-Star Game and Shooting Stars competition, have off for the All-Star Break until next Tuesday, when they return home to take on the Milwaukee Bucks. These last two wins vs Indiana and Denver couldn't be a better way for Brooklyn to enter the break.