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Johnson, Plumlee lead Nets to Thrilling Victory Over Denver, 102-96

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Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN -- It's holiday season in Brooklyn and the Denver Nuggets were in town to 'spread love the Brooklyn way'. The Nets have been struggling, but they put their three-game losing streak to ease with a 110-105 victory over the Detroit Pistons Sunday night.

But first, Mason Plumlee welcomed fans to the arena and wished them all season's greetings...


Then, he greeted the season himself, in his most impressive outing yet.

Prior to tip-off the Nets announced Brook Lopez would indeed be active for Tuesday's matchup after missing eight straight games with a back strain. He didn't start, though. Deron Williams once again sat out with a right calf strain. It was his second straight missed game.

Never mind. It was essentially The Joe & Mason Show vs. the Denver Nuggets. Johnson and Plumlee combined for 46 points on 20-for-43 shooting (46.5%), which helped Brooklyn defeat Denver 102-96. At the end, the Nets rode the back of their sophomore center in Plumlee.

Mason went off for 19 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks, two steals and two assists. It was his fifth double-double of the season -- his fourth in the last seven games -- and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds. Interesting enough, the outburst comes during Lopez's return to the lineup. Lopez logged just eight minutes and saw his initial action to start the second quarter. It was the first time Lopez has come off the bench since the seventh game of his career in 2008.

It was a late run that ultimately put Brooklyn on top. The Nets grabbed the advantage with a 21-12 run that gave them an eight point lead with three minutes to go. The crowd was going crazy for what seemed to be one of the few times this season. Plumlee dunked, blocked and rebounded through the run while Johnson hit more than one impossible shots. It was Johnson's biggest game this season at Barclays, finishing with 27 points.

The dagger: Sergey Karasev steal with 27 seconds to a wide open Jarrett Jack for the open layup. Karasev finished his night with 12 points and five rebounds on 4-for-8 shooting. Jack, after a 15 and 10 game vs. Detroit, finished with 17 and 8 Tuesday.

The Nets shot 47.3% from the field, but just 26% from three. Denver on the other hand shot 44% from the field and 28% from three, but were held to just 42 points in the second half. The Nuggets, who rank fifth in the NBA in rebounding, grabbed 51 boards compared to the Nets' 39. It didn't do justice, though. Brooklyn notched 10 steals from Denver, forcing them to commit 18 turnovers on the night, while outscoring them 60-46 in the paint. The 60 points are a season-high for the Nets.

The Nets have won two straight and now own a 12-15 record.

Joe Johnson was another key factor for Brooklyn. He scored 27 points on 11-for-19 shooting. With Johnson, Jarrett Jack also played a huge role in the victory. He scored 17 points and dished out eight assists in his second straight start in place for Deron Williams.

For Denver, Ty Lawson was the lead enforcer with 29 points and nine assists on 10-for-20 shooting. He was nearly impossible to cover. With him, Kenneth Faried also had a monster night of 20 points and 14 rebounds. The two Denver stars' effort was nearly enough to escape with a victory, but their efforts fell short with a heavy offensive lapse in the fourth.

"He’s been fantastic," Lopez said of Plumlee. "Whatever we do, as long as it works, I think guys would be for it."

"Mason has been great—his energy, his effort, taking the challenge of playing some of the premiere [power forwards] and [centers] in this league," said Johnson.

Lionel Hollins was asked about on Plumlee's recent play: "It's all coaching," the coach deadpanned.

Injury notes: Brooklyn... Deron Williams (calf). Denver... Danilo Gallinari (knee).

Quarter by quarter summary:

First quarter ... The Denver Nuggets jumped out to an 8-0 run to start the game behind three offensive rebounds within the first three minutes of the game. The Nets then answered with a 15-6 run of their own, giving them their first lead of the night at 15-14 behind six early points from Mason Plumlee. He finished the quarter with eight points and three rebounds, with most of his contributions from aspects of the game that do not show up in the box score; hustle plays in particular.

Joe Johnson was cookin' as well. He scored nine early points on 4-of-6 shooting, while the Nets as whole shot 56% from the floor. Their issue: rebounding. The Nuggets, who rank fifth in the league in rebounding, grabbed 13 rebounds (six offensive) compared to the Nets' eight. Still, Brooklyn led 30-27 after one.

Second quarter ... The speculation lately aside from trade rumors has been whether Brook Lopez should start or come off the bench. Tonight, he didn't start -- instead he started the second quarter with the second unit.

Ty Lawson was a wrecking machine in the first half. The Nets owned a double-digit lead, but a 10-2 run behind Lawson's lead brought the Nuggets as close as four. He ended the half with 17 points, seven assists and four rebounds on 7-for-13 shooting. No other Denver players were in double figures, but they were shooting 51% from the field; The Nets at 53.2%. The Nuggets outrebounded Brooklyn 25-16 in the half, but committed 10 turnovers compared to the Nets' four giveaways. It was a very fast-paced, evenly matched battle throughout.

The score at the half: Nets 58, Nuggets 54.

Third quarter ... Ty Lawson had the Nuggets on a roll.. again. Denver outscored the Nets 23-18 in the third, behind nine points from Lawson. He totaled 26 points and eight assists heading into the fourth quarter with Denver shooting 45.3% from the field and 30% from beyond the arc. The Nets on the other hand committed more turnovers in the third quarter (5) than they did all first half (4). They struggled to find an offensive rhythm and trailed, 77-76.

Fourth quarter ... It was Mason Plumlee, Joe Johnson and everyone else vs. the Denver Nuggets. Plumlee notched his fifth double-double of the season and fourth in his last seven games when he grabbed his 10th board of the night. He also had 19 points to go with it at the point of the game. The Nets grabbed a 21-12 advantage which gave them an eight point lead with three minutes to go. The crowd was going crazy and the Nets were on their way to their second straight victory.

The dagger: Sergey Karasev steal with 27 seconds to a wide open Jarrett Jack for the open layup.

Final score: Nets 102, Nuggets 96.

Before the game, the Nets announced that they had donated $10,000 to a special fund for the families of the two NYPD officers slain over the weekend. The killings took place in Bedford-Stuyvesant, less than a mile from Barclays Center.

For more on the Denver Nuggets, check them out at Denver Stiffs.