No such thing as an ugly win for Nets
Brooklyn Outlasts Atlanta for First Victory at Barclays Center
Style points are for fashionistas, not NBA teams struggling to remain afloat.
So the Brooklyn Nets, winners for the first time at home this season via a 90-88 triumph over the Atlanta Hawks in front of 12,241 fans at Downtown’s Barclays Center on Tuesday night, weren’t going to throw back just their second victory of the campaign because it wasn’t an instant classic.
“The game wasn’t the prettiest,” Brooklyn point guard Jarrett Jack admitted after scoring 14 points and dishing out eight assists in the Nets’ first win in four home contests.
“I have a saying that it may not look pretty, but it all looks the same in the ‘W’ column.”
It certainly does, especially coming off last Saturday night’s heartbreaking 107-99 loss in Golden State to the defending NBA champion Warriors, which featured several lapses in execution down the stretch in regulation that cost Brooklyn what would have easily been its most impressive regular-season win of the year.
“This was a big win,” Nets head coach Lionel Hollins said before taking questions from the media. “The big difference between two games. One game we have three opportunities to execute and we don’t. Tonight we have three opportunities to execute and we do and we come out a winner.”
The slow grind to victory featured 13 lead changes, 11 ties and several long stretches during which neither team appeared interested in taking charge of the contest.
But Brooklyn, spearheaded by its two “foundation players”, Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, found a way to eke out its first win in the last seven regular-season meetings with the Hawks, who eliminated the Nets in the opening round of last year’s playoffs.
Lopez, well on his way to his second All-Star season in Brooklyn, scored 24 points, pulled down 10 boards and blocked three shots.
Young, who along with Lopez was inked to a lucrative long-term contract this past summer, added 16 points, including the go-ahead free throws with 1.4 seconds remaining, and grabbed 11 rebounds for Brooklyn (2-9), which headed to Charlotte Wednesday night seeking its first back-to-back wins of the season.
“This gives us a great deal of confidence going into the next game,” said Young, who appeared to injure his wrist after being fouled by Atlanta’s Kyle Korver on the game’s deciding sequence, but should be ready to go against the Hornets. “Hopefully we can get that win and keep building on what we are trying to do here.”
“We made mistakes tonight, but the most important thing was that we continued to play,” Lopez added. “We had our lulls, we were down, but we didn’t give up. You could see that on the road the past few games and we broke through tonight.”
Joe Johnson, embracing his role as a facilitator out of the small forward position, had 13 points, seven rebounds and a team-high nine assists for the Nets, who forced 20 turnovers and hit 12-of-29 3-pointers against his former team.
“I give Brooklyn credit,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the Associated Press. “They played well. They forced the turnovers. We didn’t take care of the ball. So we’re going to have to clean that up.”
Shane Larkin added 14 points off the bench for Brooklyn, which would like to prove it can stack together wins and climb back into the Eastern Conference playoff conversation.
“We’re showing growth,” Jack said. “We showed flashes of what’s necessary for us to be a good team. Tonight was another example.”
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Nothing But Net: Rookie G Rondae Hollis-Jefferson started in the backcourt with Jack and managed to put up seven points, two rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes during Tuesday’s victory … While Jack continues to lead the Nets with 7.4 assists per contest, Johnson ranks second at 4.8 per game, and is not shy about admitting that his days as the team’s top scorer may be over. “I gotta facilitate and try to make these guys better,” Johnson told ESPN.com. “When you’re not making shots, you’ve got to do other things — whether it’s rebounding, passing the ball or putting guys in position to score — and that’s what I’ve been trying to do.” … The Nets’ previous regular-season win over Atlanta came in London on Jan. 16, 2014 … After visiting the Hornets on Wednesday, the Nets will head to Boston Friday before hosting the Celtics here on Sunday evening at 6 p.m.
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