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Brooklyn Nets show no love for the King and his Cavaliers, 106-98

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Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN -- Now we're talking!

The Brooklyn Nets won their fourth game in the last five games played, this time coming against the Cleveland Cavaliers, 106-98, in a game that Brooklyn absolutely needed to win in order to keep their playoff chances legitimately alive. After tonight, they stayed a half game out of the eighth seed as the Hornets and Heat lost, but the Celtics won.

The win came on the back of the resurgent Joe Johnson. Johnson, coming off a 2-of-9 performance against Charlotte, led Brooklyn with 20 points and nine assists on 7-of-13 shooting. His biggest shot of the game came late in the fourth quarter when the shot clock was winding down and the Nets had absolutely nothing going for them. Joe, going to his old clutch ways, pulled up a few feet behind the three-point arc and nailed the shot to go up eight with 2:56 remaining. The shot was variously described as coming from Flatbush, Prospect Park and Red Hook.

The teams were tied at 79 apiece heading into the fourth quarter, but Brooklyn started the final frame on a 7-2 run and never looked back. They outscored the Cavaliers 27-19 during the final 12 minutes of action.

Brook Lopez also continued his hot play of late, scoring 20 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Prior to tonight, Brook has averaged 31 points on 66% shooting in the previous four games. For the month of March, Lopez is averaging 20 and nine. Still, the Nets couldn't have gotten it done with the fantastic contributions from the bench.

The bench scored 54 points on 21-of-42 shooting. Bojan Bogdanovic led the backup squad with 18 points. After two bad games --10 points on 6-of-20 overall shooting and missing six straight three point attempts, Bogdanovic came back strong shooting 7-of-12 overall, and 2-of-5 from deep. Jarrett Jack chipped in 16 and Alan Anderson with 13. Anderson was a warrior in the game, matching up with LeBron on many occasions throughout and holding in check for most of it.  The Cavs bench was limited to 20 points.

As they say, LeBron will be LeBron, but as long as he doesn't beat you, none of it matters. He posted a statline of 24 points, nine assists, five rebounds and five steals. His point guard, Kyrie Irving, had the crowd ooh-ing and ahh-ing all night long and his numbers showed for it. He scored 26 on the night on 10-of-22 shooting.

Kevin Love played 31 minutes and scored 18 points, but fouled out during the late stages of the game.

Brooklyn uncharacteristically shot 39% from three and out-rebounded Cleveland 46-40. They also forced 17 Cleveland turnovers.

In his debut with Brooklyn, Earl Clark provided some decent minutes. The 6'10" Clark scored seven points to go along with a rebound, an assist and a steal in 11 minutes of action. Not bad for a guy who flew to New York Thursday night.

Deron Williams struggled yet again, and because of so, he sat the entire fourth quarter. He finished the night with 5 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds and 5 turnovers.

The Nets stay a half game out of the eighth seed with Boston defeating the Knicks in New York. They'll face off against the lowly Los Angeles Lakers this Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn, another golden opportunity for the guys to gain some ground in the East.

When asked why he played Clark in such a crucial game, Lionel Hollins said it was kind of a whim.

"I remember telling you before the game that I wasn’t afraid to play him," Hollins told writers. "My grandmother used to say, ‘A scared man can’t win.’ … So I said ‘What the heck,’ and I put him in the game. And he was huge. He made some big shots for us and kept us afloat."

"We didn’t go over one play," Clark admitted post-game. "I had no idea what was going on."

Hollins spoke as well about LeBron James. "I thought LeBron came out, he knew that he had to come and attack. He could sense that we were going to be playing well. And he came out and attacked early. They had the right mindset because they could sense our mindset and how we were playing."

"We eliminated guys like Shumpert and J.R. Smith," added Johnson. "I think we did a great job. Our bigs were great and a great collective team effort."

On James, Johnson said his offensive success had an effect on his defensive assignment. "You have to make him work," he told Sarah Kustok. "I thought we did a great job of making him work, picking up quick fouls, getting him in foul trouble and that was the key to the game."

The King himself credited the Nets ... in a back-handed way.

"They played a very good game," James said. "I think they were in attack mode. We didn’t control dribble-penetration enough. They put us in a lot of pick-and-rolls and they played small and a lot of their guys are dual threats -- they were shooting the 3 and they also beat us off the dribble. So, we didn’t do a good job of keeping them out of the paint.

"I just sense a team that’s been playing for each other for a while now and they just know how to play. We just happened to get them on a good night."

We're talking playoff basketball and that's really all that matters at this point. Unlike the team across the river.

Quarter by quarter

First quarter ... The Nets certainly had no shortage of offense in the first quarter. This time, a rather missing face showed up, His name was Joe Johnson if you didn't remember him. He scored 10 points, along with Brook Lopez who scored 10 points. As a whole, Brooklyn shot 50% from the field and 50% from three. The Cavs also shot 50% from the floor behind eight points from Kyrie Irving. The Nets led, 29-27.

Second quarter ... Brooklyn's bench was wonderful in the first half. They scored 30 of the 57 points scored in the half, behind Jarrett Jack (8 points), Bojan Bogdanovic (11 points), and Alan Anderson (11 points). The starters were feeling it too, namely Brook Lopez (10 points) and Joe Johnson (12 points). All that led to 51.1% shooting from the field. Still, Cleveland had LeBron James and he's pretty good if you didn't know. He had 16 points and four steals in the half.

Score at the half: Nets 57, Cavs 56.

Third quarter ... It was about as even as can be after three quarters of play. The teams were knotted up at 79 apiece, but the Nets were 47% from the field, Cleveland 48%; The Nets had 14 turnovers, the Cavs with 13. The game was tied heading into the fourth, which could be deadly with LeBron James on the other team.

Fourth quarter ... The Nets started the quarter on a 7-2 run and never looked back. Brooklyn was up five with three minutes remaining, when Joe Johnson heaved a bomb from the perimeter as the shot clock winded down. Bang. He nailed the three and the crowd went berserk over the shot that essentially won Brooklyn the game. They outscored Cleveland 27-19 in the fourth.

Final score: Nets 106, Cavs 98.

For more on the Cleveland Cavaliers, check them out at Fear The Sword.