Well, here we are: The final stretch. Just days after the All-Star Weekend and the night before the trade deadline. As expected, the Nets were active this trade deadline. Around 2:00 PM, a deal was finalized with the Sacramento Kings to send Reggie Evans & Jason Terry in exchange for Marcus Thornton.
Still, with many questions waiting to be answered in the second half of the season, the Nets had business to take care of tonight in Utah against the Jazz.
The Nets got an important road victory against the Jazz, winning 105-99 with big games from Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Andray Blatche, who had a career high. Brooklyn is now in a virtual tie with the Wizards in the Eastern Conference, trailing the third place Raptors by three games and only two in the loss column.
Brooklyn looked sloppy to begin the game. After a couple of unorganized possessions, the Nets finally woke up following Deron Williams' lead. Williams, who returned to his former home in Utah, didn't exactly get the warmest reception. Deron finished the quarter with eight points and three assists. On the other side, Trey Burke and Alec Burks led the Jazz with eight apiece. Late in the quarter the Nets cooled off on both ends of the court. The Jazz ended the quarter on a 13-2 run, leading Brooklyn 28-21 after one quarter. Utah finished the first quarter 5-8 from behind the arc.
After five minutes into the second quarter, the Jazz increased their lead 12, forcing Jason Kidd to call a timeout. It was already looking to be an ugly game on the glass for the Nets, as Utah had them out rebounded 19-9 in the early going. It's been a re-occurring theme with the Nets when they face big teams, they struggle on the glass. Utah would finish the half with a 23-16 rebound advantage.
Andray Blatche led all scorers, coming off the bench scoring 13 points on 6-11 shooting. The Nets were reluctant to be down just five going into the half when Paul Pierce committed a bad foul, sending Marvin Williams to the line with .01 seconds left. The Jazz held the momentum going into the second half with a 56-48 lead.
As the third quarter got underway, the Nets continued to struggle defending beyond the perimeter. With a little under eight minutes remaining in the third, the Jazz found themselves up 68-55, on 9-17 shooting beyond the arc. Joe Johnson started to heat up-- scoring seven consecutive points for the Nets, leading the Nets to an 11-2 run with five minutes remaining in the third. Johnson finished the quarter with 20 points on 8-13 shooting. Along with Johnson, Andray Blatche brought his "A" game tonight, finishing the quarter with 23 points & 5 rebounds. Behind the two, the Nets regained control of this game leading the Jazz: 75-74.
Quick reminder: Despite having only 11 active players, Alan Anderson and Mason Plumlee didn't get any burn through three quarters of play. For Anderson, that could be a preview of what things will look like after Thornton arrives this weekend.
After outscoring Utah 28-17 in the third quarter, the Nets still had plenty of work to do. At the midway point of the fourth quarter, the Nets built their lead up to five, owning an 89-84 lead. They forced 16 turnovers, while only committing four in the late stages of the fourth. Former Jazz player, Andrei Kirilenko had a big part in the scrappy play, as he nabbed three steals alone.
With a little over three minutes remaining the Nets owned a six point lead. They had the possession, and looked to finally pull away. After an airball as the shot clock expired, Deron Williams took a hard elbow to the head. He was down, but got up and returned to action. Moments later, Williams hit a huge three to put the Nets up 10.
The Nets outscored Utah 57-43 in the second half. Despite getting out rebounded yet again, the Nets went on to beat the Jazz 105-99. Williams finished the game with 19 points and 7 assists, hoping he can get the second half of this season to look like last years'. Joe Johnson looked like the All-Star he is; finishing the game leading all scorers with 27.Andray Blatche chipped in with a career high 25 points. Mirza Teletovic added 8 points off the bench.
The Nets continue their road trip Saturday against the Golden State Warriors.
For more on the Jazz, check them out at SLC Dunk.