After a tough road trip, the Brooklyn Nets (39-33) returned home and got back to winning ways.
Brooklyn continued their good form at home, and they now trail the Chicago Bulls by 1.5 games for the 4th seed and the Toronto Raptors by 2.5 games for the 3rd seed and the Atlantic Division lead.
Since January 1st, the Nets are 29-12, the best record in the East. The Nets will be trying to claim home court for the first round of the playoffs, and will be a tough out for any team.
Here’s a recap of this past weekend’s action:
Friday night, Brooklyn cruised to a 108-97 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers (30-45).
A Deron Williams 3-pointer, followed by consecutive threes from Paul Pierce, helped Brooklyn jump out to an early 9-0 lead. Cleveland, led by Spencer Hawes and Luol Deng, was able to cut the lead, and both teams went into the 2nd tied at 29.
The Nets opened the 2nd quarter on a 12-0 run to take a commanding 41-29 lead -- the run was capped off by an Alan Anderson 3-pointer. Pierce’s 3-pointer with 2:05 remaining gave the Nets a 17-point lead, their largest lead of the game. At halftime, the Nets had a comfortable 61-50 lead.
The Cavaliers showed some fight in the 3rd by cutting the lead to eight to end the quarter, but the Nets pushed the lead back up to 15 with an 8-1 run to begin the 4th.
Brooklyn’s bench outscored Cleveland’s bench 48-18. After the game, Pierce had this to say about Brooklyn’s depth.
“That’s who we are. If we’re going to go anywhere in this playoffs, we’re a team full of depth. We’ve got a number of guys that can beat you on any given night; it’s not really surrounded around one particular guy. Tonight I was our leading scorer, but then it can be somebody else tomorrow, the next game and that’s what makes us so dangerous.”
With this win, Brooklyn has won their 12th straight game at home and 19 of their last 21. Barclay’s Center has become a fortress for Brooklyn, and their play at home is the main reason as to why they’ve been able to turn it around this year.
Key Stats: Paul Pierce led the Nets with 22 points; he scored 17 of his 22 points in the 1st quarter. Joe Johnson scored 14 points. Deron Williams had 13 points and 5 assists. Alan Anderson finished with 13 points off the bench. Andray Blatche and Marcus Thornton each finished with 10 points off the bench.
Luol Deng and Dion Waiters both led the Cavaliers with 20 points. Waiters also had 5 assists and Deng contributed with 6 rebounds and 7 assists. Spencer Hawes finished with 16 points and 5 rebounds. Tristan Thompson had 14 points and 5 rebounds.
Key Notes: Kevin Garnett missed his 15th straight game due to back spasms. Andrei Kirilenko missed his third straight game due to a sprained left ankle.
Brooklyn continued their home dominance on Sunday with a 114-99 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves (36-36). Minnesota kept the game close through the first three quarters, but Brooklyn was able to pull away in the 4th.
Brooklyn has now won 13 straight home games, 20 of their last 22, tying a franchise record and tying the longest home winning streak in the NBA this season.
Pierce followed up his 17-point 1st quarter from last game with a 16-point performance against the Timberwolves. His 16 points helped the Nets to take a 30-27 lead into the 2nd quarter.
The Nets opened up the 2nd on a 19-9 run, to take a 49-36 lead, midway through the quarter, but the Timberwolves were able to cut the lead to five before the break. At the half, the Nets had a slim 59-54 lead.
Minnesota continued their good play into the 3rd and rushed out the gates with a 15-4 run. They opened up a 69-63 lead with about 4 minutes remaining, but the lead didn’t last for long. Joe Johnson and Shaun Livingston helped Brooklyn to storm back and take an 85-82 lead at the end of the quarter.
In the 4th, it was all Nets. The Timberwolves started the quarter strongly and cut the lead to one, but the Nets responded with a 13-4 run to push the lead to 98-88 midway through the period. Anderson was the main catalyst of the run, making three 3-pointers.
Pierce later added another 3-pointer to increase the Nets lead to 13-points. The Timberwolves weren’t able to gain anymore ground, and the Nets marched on to a comfortable win.
Key Stats: Paul Pierce led the Nets with 22 points and 5 rebounds. Joe Johnson contributed with 19 points. Shaun Livingston, Mason Plumlee, and Alan Anderson each had 13 points -- Plumlee also grabbed 8 rebounds. Andray Blatche had 14 points and 6 rebounds off the bench.
Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin both led the Timberwolves with 21 points apiece. Kevin Love finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds. Nikola Pekovic had 13 points and 6 rebounds. Ricky Rubio had 12 assists, along with 7 points.
Key Notes: Kevin Garnett missed his 16th straight game due to back spasms, and he’s expected to return on April 8th or 9th. Andrei Kirilenko missed his fourth straight game due to a sprained left ankle, and he’s expected to return mid-week. Oklahoma City Thunder is the only other NBA team with a 13-game home winning streak this season.