Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/13/12
BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Joe Johnson knew that he was a much better shooter than the one who shot 36 percent during his first five games with the Brooklyn Nets. So in the morning shoot-around before the Nets took on the Cleveland Cavaliers Monday night, Johnson concentrated on finding his rhythm and touch once again. "For some reason today, I felt good," said Johnson, who connected on nine-of-16 shots en route to 25 points and led the Nets past the Cavs, 114-101. "I've been shooting a lot on my own and I just felt confident in my shot. "I guess sometimes it's just the way the ball bounces. It was fun to be out there with Deron (Williams). Brook (Lopez) played big and it opened up some shots for us." Johnson nailed two 3-pointers from way beyond the arc in the fourth quarter to quell any Cavaliers run. "Joe hit some big shots," Nets coach Avery Johnson said. "He made one from the parking lot. I really wasn't worried at all about Joe. He knows how to play the game." Added Joe Johnson: "I just wanted to focus after I got some good looks. I shot a couple threes in transition and that got me a little rhythm." Williams had 26 points to lead the Nets and also had 10 assists for his second double-double of the season. Lopez had 23 and seven rebounds for the winners. The victory enabled the Nets (4-2) to collect their third win in a row, while the Cavaliers (2-6) lost their fourth consecutive game. The Nets blew open a close game in the second quarter, outscoring the Cavs, 35-12, to hold a 22-point lead at the break. They then coasted home for the win, only their second blowout victory. It was impressive against Cleveland, because prior to Tuesday night, only one game between the two teams had a 10-point or more scoring margin during the last 12 meetings. The Nets' Andray Blatche had 13 points, five rebounds and three blocked shots in 19 minutes off the bench He was part of the 12-0 run that gave the Nets the lead for good in the second quarter. "To be honest, it's not just me," Blatche said. "It's been the whole team. It always feels great when you win. We've won three games in a row and I can't remember that happening to me over the last couple of years." Blatche came to the Nets in the offseason after spending some time with the Washington Wizards. Anderson Varejao was unconscious for Cleveland, scoring a game-high 35 points on 16-of-21 from the floor. It was Varejao's career best. Varejao also had 18 rebounds. Kyrie Irving added 34 points for the Cavs, also setting his career best. The two teams traded the lead nine times in a fast-paced and highly competitive first quarter, with Varejao exerting his will down low. Varejao, who cut his lengthy locks in the offseason, dominated for 17 points and seven rebounds in the first quarter alone. He made 7-of-8 from the floor from and caused havoc for the Nets' defense. Varejao's two free throws gave Cleveland its biggest lead of the first quarter at 28-24 with 1:29 remaining. Blatche hit one free throw with six seconds left, cutting the Cavaliers' lead to 30-29 after one period. The Nets' second unit gave them the lead for good, outscoring the Cavs, 11-0 over a 2:58 span of the period. Johnson had five points and Blatche four during the stretch that gave the Nets a 40-30 lead with 7:54 remaining before intermission. "Blatche brought us some energy there," Avery Johnson said. "He defended well and made a couple of baskets there. I think the guys are starting to understand their roles. That's been a big part of emphasis in the early going." The Nets continued the pressure in the second quarter, as Blatche scored eight points and Johnson and Williams added seven each to give Brooklyn a commanding 64-42 lead at the break. The Nets shot 58 percent from the floor in the first half, easily their best half of basketball in their brief season. They dominated rebounding, a statistic that had not treated Brooklyn well this season. The Nets held an impressive 27-15 advantage off the glass, with Reggie Evans collecting six bounds in his 11 minutes of play. Williams led the Nets with 15 at halftime, followed by Lopez with 14 and Humphries with 11. Varejao had 21 points and 11 rebounds at the break. The Nets kept the pedal down in the third quarter, doing much of the same things that got them the commanding halftime lead. Lopez had six points, all on power moves to the basket, helping the Nets secure a 77-53 lead with 5:16 remaining in the third period. But the Cavs made a run at the end of the third period, outscoring Brooklyn, 33-21, to cut the Nets' lead to 85-75 after three periods. Jerry Stackhouse hit a running jumper off glass to start the fourth quarter, increasing the Brooklyn lead to 87-75 and calm the tensions of Nets' fans, who were beginning to see another lead disappear. Johnson hit a huge 3-pointer in transition to give the Nets a comfortable 96-80 lead with 6:32 left. "Our composure was good," Avery Johnson said. "They were making a comeback and our defense withstood their rush. We had a lot of positives out of this game. Our backcourt combined to score 51 points. That's something. We hit some big shots and won the game." NOTES: Forward Gerald Wallace missed his fifth straight game with a sprained ankle he suffered in the final minute of the season opener against the Knicks Nov. 1. Wallace is still listed as day-to-day. ... Guard MarShon Brooks also sat out the game with a sprained left ankle. It was the third consecutive game that Brooks missed. ... The Nets led the NBA last year in games lost due to injury, losing a total of 249 games due to illness or injury…With injuries to Wallace, Brooks and forward Josh Childress, the Nets have already lost 10 games due to injury this year. ... Through his career, Jerry Stackhouse has worn uniform No. 42 in honor of his idol Jackie Robinson. Now, Stackhouse becomes the first professional athlete in Brooklyn to wear No. 42 since Robinson retired. ... Robinson's No. 42 is retired throughout Major League baseball.
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