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The Process: Nets win their second straight, beating the Cavs at home, 89-82

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN - With the Brooklyn Nets coming off an improbable win on the road over the Oklahoma City Thunder, tonight's matchup against the Kyrie Irving-less Cleveland Cavaliers seemed like the kind of game that builds momentum. Even on the same day in which the Nets announced Brook Lopez' reconstructive surgery, there was plenty of reason for Brooklyn fans to feel optimistic about the new calendar year.

Kevin Garnett was given the night off to rest. Before the game Jason Kidd said that with the Nets facing a heavy schedule over the next week he wanted to give Garnett some time off. In his place, Reggie Evans started at center.

Despite typical third quarter woes --and a two-point performance from Thursday's hero Joe Johnson, the Nets won their second straight, 89-82. It put them a game and a half out of the playoffs before Charlotte beat Sacramento later Saturday night.

Brooklyn's defensive effort from Oklahoma City carried over early in this one, as they held the Cavs to 38.1 percent shooting in the first, but their offense wasn't able to build much of a distance, as they put up just 22 points in the first. Reggie Evans was great in the first quarter, leading the team with eight points and six rebounds in 11-plus minutes.

The Nets led the Cavs heading into the second, 22-17, and continued to play show up on both ends of the floor, with a strong defensive effort and great ball movement via the "small Nets" lineup. Deron Williams scored 13 in the first half and Evans went for eight points and nine rebounds, as the Nets carried a 51-38 lead into halftime.

Cleveland made a run in the third to close the game to three points at the 5-minute mark. Brooklyn couldn't get the stops they needed, made a few too many boneheaded mistakes and scored seven points (on two field goals) in 10-plus minutes. Welcome back, third quarter struggles. It was a 23-7 run that put the Cavs up by three with less than two minutes remaining in the third. However, Mirza Teletovic buried a three in the final seconds of the quarter to get back the lead for Brooklyn. Overall, Teletovic hit 3-of-6 from deep, raising his season percentage to 42.9 and his career number to above 40 percent for the first time.

The Nets headed into the fourth with a 67-65 lead.

Brooklyn used their size and stretch to pull away from the Cavs in the fourth. With Kidd finally opting to play Andray Blatche over Reggie Evans, the Nets found a better paint presence on offense and were able to open it up with Teletovic's stretch shooting.

Cleveland never made a serious run in the fourth, as the Nets came away with a 89-82 victory.

In the end, the Nets had 36 points in the paint. They did, however, manage to score just two fast break points, which is terrible for a small lineup.

Andrei Kirilenko played well in his 14 minutes on the court, finishing with eight points and two rebounds and being his usual active self on the defensive side of the ball. Blatche returned to play 20 minutes, scoring 12 points with five rebounds.

Next up for the Nets, Monday night at home against the Hawks.

For more on the Cavs, see: Fear The Sword