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No, seriously, you guys: Nets win, again, topping the Hawks, 91-82

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NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Brooklyn Nets Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets entered Sunday evening playing their best basketball of the season, having won eight games since March 1st, settling in with, finally, a healthy roster. This coming after having won just one game in the months of January and February combined.

Enter the Atlanta Hawks, Sunday night in Brooklyn, who had been struggling without their All-Star power forward Paul Millsap over the last eight games. Atlanta, though, remains in the mix for a playoff spot, sitting at the sixth seed in the East. Yet, still, this was very much a winnable game for the 17-win Nets.

Hawks, losers of 8 of their last 10 continued to spiral out of control on their way toward possibly falling out of the playoff picture officially became losers of 9 of their last 11, as Brook Lopez powered the Nets to a 91-82 victory. Winning 4 of their last 5 at home. How about them Nets?

Brook Lopez entered the night 90 points behind Buck Williams on his way to becoming the Nets’ all-time leading scorer. With the way he started, it looked as if he was gunning to break the record against the Hawks. Lopez scored 18 points in the first 8-plus minutes of the game, hitting 7-of-10 shots, including 3-of-4 from three, in the first quarter. Lookout, Buck. Here comes Brook.

On the other side of the ball, the Hawks had Millsap came off the bench, though that didn’t necessarily affect the way the Hawks would play. They got off to a hot start, hitting 8 of their first 10 shots from the floor, while the Nets took to playing more stretch basketball early on, getting off 9 threes in the first 7 minutes of the game.

Atlanta settled down a little, after starting 80% from the floor, making just 2 of their next 9 shots to end the first, along with 6 turnovers.

After one, on the back of Brook Lopez the Nets led the Hawks, 29-24.

Both teams got off to an ugly start in the second, with neither team making a field goal 3+ minutes into the quarter. The Nets, in fact, had missed 13 straight field goals going back to the first quarter when Lopez had checked out of the game.

It got even uglier as the two teams combined to make just one field goal between them in the first 6 minutes of the second quarter while coughing up 18 total turnovers in 18 minutes.

Basketball, man. Sometimes it’s not so pretty.

Lopez and Jeremy Lin combined for 33 first half points, as the Nets took a 46-43 lead into halftime.

The struggle carried over into the third quarter - it wasn’t quite as ugly, but both teams found themselves shooting at just 40% from the floor with the turnovers continuing to pile up.

Lopez stayed hot, though, on both sides of the floor. He had 27 points -- along with 5 blocks and 2 steals -- through three quarters. Still, the rest of the team was bad. But, not as bad as the Hawks. Through three, the Hawks had 14 assists to 16 turnovers and shot 37.3% from the floor.

The Nets were in shape to close this one out, up 70-61 heading into the 4th, especially with the way that Lopez was playing.

It was much of the same in the final 12 minutes, where both teams coughed up turnover after turnover, the Nets relied heavily on Lopez and the Hawks continued to be really, really bad.

Lopez did tweak his quad late in the 4th, leaving the game with about 2+ minutes left to play, but the Nets didn’t need him to close this one out. They did the old grit-and-grind and found a way to fight through a Hawks push midway in the fourth to beat Atlanta, 91-82.

The two teams combined for 38 turnovers, 19 for each. And both shot under 40% from the floor, but, while it wasn’t pretty it was a win.

Lopez finished with 29 points in 30 minutes. Trevor Booker didn’t quite have it, finishing with 7 points and 7 rebounds, one night after playing his best game of the season, but he came through for them in the final minutes of the game.

It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win -- and, hey, the Nets are pretty good? Yeah? Yeah.

LIN ON THE WIN

THE NUMBERS

The Nets are now 8-10 with the starting line-up of Lopez, Lin, Hollis-Jefferson, LeVert and Foye.

Over the last 10 games, the Nets are 5-5. Over the last eight, 5-3.

Since March 1 , the Nets are 9-10. Over that time period, they rank 20th in Offense, 7th in Defense, and 14th in Net Rating. They need to go 3-2 over the remaining schedule to go .500 for the last two months of the season.

Lopez needs 61 points to catch Buck Williams for the Nets career scoring mark. That’s 12.3 points over the last five games.

PACERS DROPPING BUT...

Indiana keeps dropping in the standings, losing a double overtime thriller to Cleveland, their fourth straight. The Pacers are now ninth, out of the playoffs, and 3-7 in their last ten games. If that continues, the Pacers will have to surrender their second rounder to the Nets. But while Indiana is falling, so is Miami. The Pacers and Heat have the same record, but Miami holds the tiebreaker. So not only do the Nets need to see the Pacers lose, they need to see Miami win.

GOODWIN WAITS

Sunday was Archie Goodwin’s last opportunity to impress, to get a contract for the rest of the season. After playing well on Saturday, he didn’t score in 10 minutes, going 0-of-3 and turning the ball over three times. The Nets will have to decide in next 24 hours on what to do with the 6’5” combo guard.

Next up for the Nets, a road game on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia 76ers.

For more on the Hawks, see: Peachtree Hoops