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Brooklyn Nets keep steady in playoff race with 117-80 route over Washington

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Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN -- By Harry Potter terms, the Brooklyn Nets performed "expelliarmus" on the Washington Wizards Friday night, which means to disarm another wizard. They certainly disarmed them of their basketball "magic" with a 117-80 route over Washington, which now keeps them a game ahead of the Indiana Pacers for the eighth seed in the East with only four games remaining.

They looked like a team with a legitimate sense of urgency Friday night against the Washington Wizards. Perhaps it was because their Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov looked on for the second straight game? Or maybe because their playoff hopes depended on it. Either way, they got it done and it was all thanks to a huge first half.

Despite falling in a 5-0 hole early, the Nets answered with a 31-9 run to end the first quarter -- leading 31-14 after one with Brook Lopez leading the way, as per usual. The 14 points is the lowest Brooklyn has allowed in a first quarter all season.

Just how good was the defense?

Well, for starters -- the Washington offense was essentially nonexistent, filled with one-pass possessions and stagnant offensive sets throughout. It was justified, however, with their primary facilitator in John Wall sitting out. Still, they held Washington to 38 points on 38% shooting in the first half, while forcing four, yes FOUR, shot clock violations in the first 24 minutes of action.

Bradley Beal was the one of two Washington players to finish in double figures with 24 points, while the "Polish Hammer" Marcin Gortat went off for 21 points and 16 rebounds on 9-of-11 shooting.

The Nets' biggest lead of the first half was 27 and they led, 54-38, on 51% shooting and 63% from three. Washington had dug themselves in a hole that they tried to climb out of, but failed to do so. They cut the deficit down to 10 in the third quarter, but the Nets immediately answered with a 10-2 run to go back up 18.

The Nets eventually went up 24 after two three-pointers from Bojan Bogdanovic. It was 1/3 of the real work Bogie put in from downtown (no we don't mean Wall Street), as he scored 22 points on the night after shooting a perfect 6-of-6 from three. The 22 points match Bojan's career-high. Behind Bojan and Jarrett Jack, the bench scored 58 points.

The Nets also jumped out to a 20-1 run in the fourth quarter, giving them their largest lead of the night at 32. They extended it to 38 later in the fourth and outscored the Wizards 42-18.

The Nets' pick and roll offense was the anchor to their offensive sets. Deron Williams dished out nine assists on the night with most of them ending in a Brook Lopez score. It was some of the most fluid ball movement we've seen from the Nets all season long, thus leading to their 29 assists on the night.

Brook Lopez finished with 24 points, nine rebounds and one block in 34 minutes of action, while Jarrett Jack chipped in 14 off the bench.

They finished the game shooting 50.6% from the field and 60% from three. Again, it was all thanks to the wonderful ball movement executed. They also forced 21-Washington turnovers which led to 38-Brooklyn points.

It was just their night.

The playoff push continues but it doesn't get easier. The Nets play the Milwaukee Bucks in Milwaukee this Sunday, then face the Chicago Bulls Monday night at the Barclays Center in the second game of a back-to-back. Buckle your seat belts, Nets fans. This is going to be a very emotional ride, for the good or for the bad.

It looks like for the good, for now.

"After the All-Star break one of the best things we id and we need to continue ... both our point guards are doing a great job. Brook is also great like I said, he was like MVP, which makes all the teams focus on him, which makes it easier to make assists," Bojan Bogdanovic said of the ball movement.

Side note: New York City high school basketball legend and Former Net, Kenny Anderson, was on hand with Brooklyn's loudest and proudest, the Brooklyn Brigade to cheer on the Nets as they manhandled the Washington Wizards. If it means more success for the Nets, keep cheering with the Brigade, Kenny!

For more on the Washington Wizards, check them out at Bullets Forever.