BROOKLYN - For the first time this season, at game No. 59, the Brooklyn Nets had a chance to go over .500. On the other side of the ball, however, was a Memphis Grizzlies team that was playing about as good as any team in the NBA since the New Year. The 'Grit and Grind' was in Brooklyn, however, they were without one of the cornerstone players in Zach Randolph, who was out with the flu.
For Brooklyn, Kevin Garnett was out once again because of back spasms. Fortunately, the Nets didn't need Garnett in this one, as they put together another complete performance against a team that is expected to be Playoff-bound in the West, winning 103-94. It got interesting there at the end, but the Nets we able to pull away.
Brooklyn is, for the first time this season, over the .500 mark at 30-29. They are 18-11 at Barclays, 11-2 since January 1.
The Nets got off to a quick start, going up 8-0 before Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger called for a 20-second timeout. Pierce carried the hot hand early for the Nets, scoring 10 points in the first five minutes of the game, and midway through the first the Nets had a 17-2 lead over a struggling Grizzlies team.
Brooklyn was able to exploit the mismatches with Pierce and the team's young bigs, Ed Davis and James Johnson, who were no help in filling in for Zach Randolph.
After one, the Nets led 30-19 on Pierce's 10 points and five rebounds in eight minutes and Andray Blatche's seven points.
Memphis closed out the first on a strong run, and it continued into the second. They were able to close a once 21-2 lead to 30-26 before the 9-minute mark in the second.
Jason Collins checked in early, playing meaningful minutes for the shorthanded Nets. He played well, disrupting the paint on the defensive side of the ball with his length and size, but wasn't much help offensively. Memphis continued to do what they do best, grind away, and were able to keep the game within reach.
Marcus Thornton was a nice spark off the bench in the second quarter. He scored 15 points in 12 minutes. He ha been fantastic since joining the Nets (after a bout of food poisoning) averaging 13.4 points on 47.1. percent shooting overall and 37.5 percent shooting from deep in 22 minutes per off the bench.
At halftime, the Nets led the Grizzlies, 55-44.
A bit of a concern for the Nets early on in the third as Paul Pierce was taken out of the game after a minute-plus. Jason Kidd put Thornton in, who continued to be the offensive spark.
Pierce returned, but his services weren't necessarily needed, as Joe Johnson, along with Blatche, Williams and Thornton, we able to give the Nets a 28-point lead late in the third quarter. Brooklyn was active on both sides of the floor, disrupting the Grizzlies on defense and pushing the pace out of Memphis' comfort zone.
Somewhere in there, Blatche went in Blatch-ness Monster mode, stealing the ball running the break, stopping, spinning and then in the piece de resistance, performed a perfect finger roll. He later called it a "chicken sandwich" and compared himself, jokingly we assume, to Magic Johnson. It was that kind of night at Barclays.
"When he goes into Dray Live mode, anything can happen," said Williams.
At the end of the third, the Nets were up 87-60. Game over.
Memphis made it a little interesting in the fourth, with their bench making a run and closing to within 9 points with just over three minutes, forcing Kidd to bring his starters back in. Fortunately, they were able to close out the Grizzlies' bench.
Kidd has to put the starters back in late, a situation that Deron Williams found "frustrating."
"Up 27, there should be no reason starters should go back in," said D-Will.
Still, when the final stat sheet was handed out, the Nets had picked off 14 steals in this one, becoming the first team in the NBA this season to pick at least 12 steals in four straight games, including 33 in the last two. They have now recorded 14-plus steals in three straight games — something only one other team (Denver in 2011) has done in the last 10 seasons. Their defense has been fantastic.
Thornton finished with 20 points, while Williams went for 16 points and seven assists. Joe Johnson scored a game-high 21 points.
Final score: Nets 103, Grizzlies 94.
Up next is Friday night, on the road, against the Boston Celtics.
For more on the Grizzlies, see: Grizzly Bear Blues
- Grizzlies at Nets - March 5, 2014 - Box Score - NBA.com
- Game Thread: Brooklyn Nets vs. Memphis Grizzlies, 7:30 PM - NetsDaily
- 2nd Half Game Thread: Nets vs. Grizzlies - NetsDaily
- Point Guard Mastery (Video) - NBA.com
- Thornton With Energy (Video) - NBA.com
- WATCH: Andray Blatche Does It Again (Video) - The Brooklyn Game
- GIF: Pretty good, Deron Williams - The Brooklyn Game
- Nets Post Game Plus (Video) - Nancy Newman - YES Network
- Thornton on Brooklyn's win (Video) - Chris Shearn - YES Network
- Kidd on Brooklyn's win vs. Memphis (Video) - YES Network
- Plumlee on Nets' defense in win (Video) - YES Network
- Blatche on team confidence, defensive strength in win (Video) - YES Network
- Andre Blatche with the spin move, then Eurostep, then finger-roll off the glass (Video) - Kurt Helin - NBC Sports
- Brooklyn Nets Podcast's sounds on SoundCloud (Audio) - Chris Carrino & Tim Capstraw - Brooklyn Nets
- Nets get above .500 for first time this season with 103-94 win over Grizzlies - AP
- Nets move over .500 with win over Grizzlies - Reuters
- Nets whip Grizzlies to move over .500 - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Garnett scratched from third straight Nets game - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets sign Jason Collins to another 10-day contract - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Kidd’s crew has winning mind-set - George Willis - New York Post
- Nets climb above .500 with 103-94 win over the Grizzlies - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Nets notes: Jason Collins gets a second 10-day contract - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Defensive identity stealing wins for Nets - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Nets beat Grizzlies to finally clear .500 - Rod Boone - Newsday
- Jason Collins signs another 10-day contract - Rod Boone - Newsday
Signed to second 10-day contract with Nets, Jason Collins continues to contribute - John Jeansomme - Newsday
- In Garnett's Absence, Collins, Blatche, Plumlee Fill in the Blank - Alex Raskin - Wall Street Journal
- Streaking Nets defeat Memphis Grizzlies to have first winning record of season - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Finally above .500, Nets finishing strong - Mitch Lawrence - New York Daily News
- Nets Burst to an Early Lead, Then Cruise Past .500 - Benjamin Hoffman - New York Times
- Nets look the part on other side of .500 - Ohm Youngmisuk - ESPN New York
- Rapid Reaction: Nets 103, Grizzlies 94 - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Thornton's 20 points carries Nets off bench - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Stein: Nets eye Gutierrez, Johnson-Odom - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Starting Five: Dray does it big in Brooklyn - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Final Score: Nets 103 Grizzlies 94 - Brian Erni - SNY Nets
- No looking back for surging Nets - John Torenli - Brooklyn Eagle
- Good Riddance To Brooklyn Nets’ 3rd-Quarter Curse - Steve Lichtenstein - WFAN
- Protecting Home Court: Nets 103, Grizzlies 94 (GAME GRADES) - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- Andray Blatche compares himself to Magic Johnson, chicken dinner - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- The Morning After: Yesterday Was A Good Dray - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- Thornton a steal for streaking Nets - Gregory Hrinya - Examiner
- Hot Nets run past sluggish Grizzlies - Ronald Tillery - Memphis Commercial Appeal
- Former Griz Jason Collins on a mission that transcends basketball - Ronald Tillery - Memphis Commercial Appeal