The Nets franchise-worst start of 0-18 will not be tested. Thankfully.
Behind a huge game from the Nets' reserves and Brook Lopez, they got their first win of the season, 106-98, over James Harden and the Houston Rockets. The monkey is finally off their backs.
The Nets looked great in the first half. They led by six as the frontcourt duo of Lopez and Thaddeus Young scored the first 25 of 30 points for Brooklyn. The Rockets ran the Nets into the ground, but Brooklyn prevailed thanks to their stellar rebounding. They finished with 14 offensive boards in the half, and outscored Houston 33-21 in the second quarter.
Then the third quarter happened again.
The Rockets shot just 2-for-13 from three in the first half, but scored 34 points on 5-of-9 from three in the third quarter. It was a 30-11 run for Houston that gave them their largest lead of the night of 11.
The Nets didn't fold, however, despite Lopez being held to zero points in the second half. He made up for it with his defense.
The Nets went on a 20-8 run late in the third that carried over into the fourth, giving them a three-point lead after falling down 11 in the third. Lopez came up with three blocks in the fourth quarter, two against Dwight Howard and one coming with a touch under two minutes remaining in the game. He finished with five blocks on the night to go along with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The Nets trotted down the court up three points following the huge block from Lopez and clock running dwon. Joe Johnson isolated and kicked the ball to wide-open Bojan Bogdanovic. Bogie sunk the three and the Nets went up six with 1:37 remaining.
The Nets out-scored the Rockets 27-15 in the fourth quarter and held the Rockets to just two points in the final 3:18 of the game.
Many unprecedented things took place in order for this win to happen:
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson told NetsDaily on Media Day that he was excited to cover James Harden. Well, he got his opportunity, for a little while, as Lionel Hollins started the rookie and told reporters he would get the assignment of covering Harden. Hollis-Jefferson indeed started, but committed three quick turnovers. He didn't see the floor again until early in the fourth quarter.
It may have been a blessing disguise. In his spot, Bogdanovic thrived. He finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, marking a career-high for rebounds and provided the Nets with just the offensive spark they needed. Big-shot Bojan finally came into action.
Rebounds were one of the many bright spots for Brooklyn. They grabbed 60 rebounds on the night, 20 being offensive, while Houston grabbed just 45. The Nets also, uncharacteristically, nailed just as many three-pointers as the Rockets -- eight -- while attempting only 17 of them, half of what Houston shot.
Jarrett Jack played 28 minutes and scored seven points on a poor 3-of-10 shooting night. He didn't play for most the fourth quarter, but when he did, he nailed a huge mid-range jumper to put Brooklyn up six with a minute remaining. It proved to be the dagger. In his place, Shane Larkin stepped up to the plate with 15 points and eight rebounds, a season-high in points, after providing a huge offensive spark in the second half when the Nets needed it most.
The Nets' bench scored 56 points behind the likes of Bogdanovic, Larkin and Andrea Bargnani. Thomas Robinson filled in huge minutes off the bench late in the fourth when Lionel Hollins took Lopez out to rest with six points and six rebounds in 13 minutes.
"We responded to their runs," Lopez said. "We played our most complete game of the season. Obviously it's good to get that first one. It's a breakthrough."
"It was the first time we didn't have black holes in our game," Bogdanovic said. "That's the biggest reason why we won."
"When you get a win it validates all the preaching and all the working that you're doing," Lionel Hollins added. "When you do get a victory you can say: 'Hey, this is what we're talking about.' Because in that victory there's a lot of things that I've been preaching and other coaches have been preaching."
"I'm worried about our team right now," Houston coach Kevin McHale said. "We haven't caught a rhythm yet. I've said it all since we've been together. We haven't been able to put together long runs of just good, solid basketball."
Four Houston, Dwight Howard was a monster with 20 points & 17 rebounds. James Harden led with 23 points, but was limited to 3-of-10 shooting from long-range. He was also held to just five free-throw attempts.
For more on the Houston Rockets, check our friends over at The Dream Shake.