However, the Nets still had work to do. If they want to keep the fifth seed in their hands, they must win these remaining games to prevent the Washington Wizards from catching them. Saturday night, the Nets started a short three game road trip against the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers, who are in full 'tank' mode this season, are notorious for their horrid 26 game losing streak.
Behind another heavy and balanced offensive attack, the Nets defeated the lowly 76ers, 105-101. Still, Philadelphia battled despite being down as much as 21. What looked to be an easy victory for Brooklyn, turned into a nail biter in the fourth.
Kevin Garnett finally returned after being out 19 straight games with back spasms ... and set a career milestone. KG moved past Alex English into 14th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with a basket in the first half.
As expected, the Nets got off to a hot start. They started the game hitting their first eight shots, and an overall 10-11 in the early stages. They were dominating on the offensive side of the ball, but missed opportunities led to a close first quarter.
They finished the quarter 2-8 from the field, and led just 27-21. It was a balanced offensive attack for the team, as nine Brooklyn players were on the board in the first quarter.
The Nets looked like they were playing at the same pace as the first, but turned it up to another level late in the half. They shot an astounding 61% from the field and dished out 18 assists. They notched their highest lead of the game of 15 with one minute remaining, which was a result from a 12-3 run to finish out the half.
The score at half: 57-42, Nets.
Despite not having any players score in double figures, the Nets were up big through the first 24 minutes of action. 10 Nets players had scored at least four points or more in the half. Still, they were led by Deron Williams who had nine points and six assists.
The highlight: A steal from Williams with three seconds remaining, which turned out to be a rare dunk from the Nets star point-guard.
Quick first half reminder: Mirza Teletovic, who scored 20 points Friday night in Brooklyn, was just one of three Nets who were held scoreless in the first half. Along with Teletovic, 76ers rookie phenom, Michael Carter-Williams was also held scoreless.
Kevin Garnett, who hasn't played since February 27, reached double figures on 5-6 shooting in the first minute of the third quarter. This is a great sign for coach Jason Kidd and the rest of the Nets team going forward with the playoffs right around the corner.
With the starters in the game, the Nets were dominating every aspect of this game, finding themselves up by as many as 19; When the second unit came on, the 76ers took advantage. The Sixers finished out the quarter with a 13-6 scoring advantage, trailing 81-69 heading into the fourth quarter.
Thaddeus Young, who scored just five first-half points, emerged as a leading scorer -- finishing the quarter with a total of 16 points. Young finished the game leading all scorers with 20 points.
The 76ers wouldn't give up. They were down 12 to start the fourth, and brought the deficit down to three with four minutes remaining in the game. It seemed evident the Nets were looking to cruise the rest of the way once they grabbed a big lead, due to fatigue from playing the night before.
Deron Williams answered right back with an exciting four point play following the 76ers 18-9 run, putting the Nets back up by seven. It looked like it could be the dagger, but before the Nets could blink, Philadelphia cut the deficit down to one with 1:05 remaining. Suddenly, a guaranteed Nets victory was in serious jeopardy.
Mirza Teletovic who was held scoreless through the first 47 minutes of the game, nailed a huge three for Brooklyn, putting them back up four with 48 seconds remaining. The Nets came up with a huge defensive stop, followed by two missed free throws -- which were then offensive rebounded by Mason Plumlee. The 76ers hit two huge three's to keep this game alive, but the Nets converted on their last six free throws to seal the deal.
Final score: Nets 105, 76ers 101.
Brooklyn improved their record on the road to 15-23 with an overall 42-34 record. The win also secures the season series between the two teams, 3-1 in favor of the Nets.
Every Nets player that played in this one scored at least three points. Deron Williams led all Nets' scorers with 19 points and nine assists.
Mason Plumlee, who came off the bench in this one, contributed 16 points and seven rebounds. Plumlee, who started in Garnett's place in the previous 19 games, rediscovered his real niche on this team coming off the bench to provide energy.
The Nets bench as a whole, combined for 49 points, proving to be another stellar night for the backup unit.
Stat of the night: The Nets improve to 18-1 when shooting 50% or better this season. This is just the fourth time the Nets shot 50% or better on the road this season.
The Nets were11-23 in 2013, now 32-13 in 2014. Somebody's New Year's resolution came true!
For more on the Philadelphia 76ers, check them out at Liberty Ballers.
- Nets at 76ers Boxscore - NBA.com
- Game Thread: Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia 76ers, 7:30 PM - NetsDaily
- Oop to Plumlee (Video) - NBA.com
- Michael Dimes Young (Video) - NBA.com
- A Tough Two (Video) - NBA.com
- Lob to K.G. (Video) - NBA.com
- Mason's Spike Down (Video) - NBA.com
- MCW Goes End to End (Video) - NBA.com
- Nets Postgame: Deron Williams leads balanced offense (Video) - Sarah Kustok - YES Network
- Nets Postgame: Jason Kidd on Kevin Garnett's return (Video) - YES Network
- Nets Postgame: Kevin Garnett on return to lineup (Video) - YES Network
- Nets Postgame: Andrei Kirilenko talks Nets' win (Video) - YES Network
- HIGHLIGHT: Kevin Garnett Throws Down The Alley-Oop Slam - The Brooklyn Game
- HIGHLIGHT: Deron Williams Dunked Again - The Brooklyn Game
- HIGHLIGHT: Mirza Teletovic Follows Up Airball 3 In Crunch Time With Dagger - The Brooklyn Game
- HIGHLIGHT: Jim Spanarkel saying "Oh boy" before this Mason Plumlee highlight even happened is my favorite part - The Brooklyn Game
- Nets Win In Garnett's Return (Video) - ESPN
- Sixers Fall To Nets 105-101 In KG’s Return - AP
- With a Spirited Garnett Back, the Healthy Nets Edge the 76ers - Andrew Keh - New York Times
Rapid Reaction: Nets 105, Sixers 101 - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Garnett 'able to contribute' in return - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Kevin Garnett's return is big boost as Nets beat 76ers, 105-101 - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Nets: Kevin Garnett's return juggles minutes - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Kevin Garnett impressive in long-awaited return as Nets hold off Philadelphia 76ers - Mitch Abramson - New York Daily News
- Kevin Garnett makes triumphant return in easy Nets victory - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Kevin Garnett returns to help Nets hold off 76ers - Rod Boone - Newsday
- After rocky start, Jason Kidd has grown as Nets coach - Barbara Barker - Newsday
- Near-Collapse: Nets 105, 76ers 101 (GAME GRADES) - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- 76ers rally falls short against Nets - Keith Pompey - Philadelphia Inquirer