Even an almost-triple-double by Goran Dragic couldn't get the Phoenix Suns a win tonight over the Nets
It was ugly, full of bad basketball, nerve-racking, and almost devastating. But, it was also a Nets win. This evening in Phoenix, at the US Airways Center on the ugly, redesigned Suns court, the Boys from Brooklyn barely held on to a late-game lead over the hapless, cellar-dwelling Suns and won their third game of their massive circus road trip. Brooklyn wasted a 16-point lead early in the third quarter and watched as Wesley Johnson and a ferocious Suns attack climbed its way into a lead by the fourth quarter. That led into a massive end-of-game slopfest which saw missed layups, turnovers, and out-of-control basketball, all resulting in a Nets' victory.
The Nets got off to a good start in the first half, much like they did yesterday vs the Clippers. Although without Joe Johnson due to a leg contusion suffered against LA, Brooklyn was able to score almost at will early on, spurred on by the bench, which scored 45 on the night on 15-28 shooting. Guys like Kris Humphries (17 points, eight rebounds) and C.J. Watson (14 points, five rebounds) had wonderful nights, helping the Nets to win the second quarter by a 30-18 margin.
Once the third quarter hit, however, a once-certain victory became an uncertain one, which looked like it might turn into a loss. Former Syracuse standout, Wesley Johnson, went bonkers in the third, hitting five three-pointers in the period and scoring 18 in the 12-minute span. The ex-Timberwolf hasn't done much this year for Phoenix but was on fire tonight, bringing his squad right back into the game, along with Goran Dragic. That performance gave the Suns a 76-75 advantage heading into the fourth.
The game came to a head in the final frame, as both teams battled tooth and nail to earn the win, even though it mattered only for the Nets, not the playoff-unlikely Suns. Watson and Brook Lopez, scoring the Nets' first 11 points of the quarter between them, were able to negate the Phoenix advantage and swing it right back in Brooklyn's favor. Then, in the final few minutes, Deron Williams took over on the offensive end of things, scoring seven of the Nets' final 12 points to seal the deal. However, that comeback effort was almost all for naught since Phoenix's Hamed Haddadi had a golden chance to tie up the score at the buzzer with a putback off a purposely-missed Goran Dragic free throw. But with the layup glancing harmlessly off the rim, the victory was conserved for the road Nets, who improved their road-trip record to 3-1.
Some other observations I had from the game: #ReggieEvansReboundCount: 10. As Chris Carrino on YES (filling in for Ian Eagle, who is working the NCAA Tournament with Jim Spanarkel) called it, a more "human" rebounding total for Reggie. Some perfectly-timed boards in key situations made last night another one of Evans' good games......Another decent game for Gerald Wallace, who didn't have the long-range touch (0-3 from three) he had in LA, but managed to hit half his shots (4-8 from field) to score nine. Grabbed eight rebounds as Nets lost rebounding battle (had 44 to Phoenix's 48) for second-straight night.....Goran Dragic was just one rebound (31 points, nine boards, 12 assists) away from an incredible triple-double. Second-straight game in which Nets were burned by the opposing team's starting point guard.......Deron Williams with another double-double, scoring 20 points and dishing out 11 assists on 8-15 shooting from the field. I like the "new" D-Will.....Brook was ok, scoring 21 but missing 10 of 16 shots. Only nabbed five boards but hit 9-10 free throws, many of which were important down the stretch.....I hope Joe Johnson's contusion heals soon, it's pretty clear how much less efficient the Brooklyn offense is with him off the court.
The Nets continue their trip on Wednesday night in Portland vs the Trail Blazers.