Fresh off of claiming victory against the Phoenix Suns in their last home game 108-95, all while achieving wins in eight of their last 10 games, the Brooklyn Nets continued their three-game home-stand against the Charlotte Bobcats, mirroring their results of the previous game obtaining a five point victory on the Bobcats, 104-99.
This is the second straight win, improving their overall regular season record to (35-31) in position to make their second straight playoff appearance since the inaugural grand opening of the Barclays Center in 2012.
The Bobcats are currently the 7th seed, one seed below the Nets, in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race one month away from the end of the regular season.
With aspirations of completing the season on a high note, each game for the Nets holds a certain level of significance and tonight is another game against an opponent the Nets are capable of defeating,
Each NBA team features its own difficulties for its opponents and the Bobcats provide a down-low offensive force in F Al Jefferson, averaging a double-double for the season recording 21.3 points per game along with 10.4 rebounds.
"We're not going to have Mason go up against him one on one," said Brooklyn Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd prior to the tip-off of tonight's match-up in his pre-game press conference to numerous media outlets.
"He's patient and knows how to put the ball in the basket," Kidd continues.
He did just that.
Jefferson displayed his talents early scoring 10 points, while grabbing 6 rebounds in the first half causing match-up problems for the Nets front-court, particularly C Mason Plumlee who defended Jefferson for the better part of the first half committing 3 fouls in the process.
With the score tied 20 all with 2:17 left in the second quarter, back-to-back jump-shots by reserves F Andray Blatche and G Marcus Thornton in addition to two made free throws by first unit PG Deron WIlliams, improved the Nets lead to six, 26-20, going into the second half ahead, 26-21 as one made free throw by Jefferson cut the overall deficit to 5 in the closing minutes.
In the second quarter, the Nets capitalized on their early slim lead extending it to a game high advantage of 13 points, when SG Thornton connected from behind the arc, Nets leading 38-25 with 8:20 remaining in the second quarter.
The Nets struggled to maintain their lead throughout second half as the Bobcats sustained a relentless effort which decided the result of the game towards final minutes of regulation.
With the game hanging in the balance, the Nets and Bobcats engaged in a back and forth rally where one team had to make enough plays to avenge the response of the opposing team and in that battle, the Nets made enough plays spearheaded by Williams who led the charge.
With the Nets leading by three, 90-87 with 4:16 to go a missed Jefferson jumper allowed the Nets to get out on the break.
Williams pushed the ball to the top of the key and dished it to G Joe Johnson the trailer for a three point shot attempt which he missed only to be rewarded with another field goal attempt due to the offensive rebound by Williams who kicked it back to Johnson, this time draining it increasing the Nets lead to five 92-87.
The Bobcats answered with a dunk via G Gerald Henderson cutting the lead to three 92-89 with 3:27 remaining until the resolution.
The ball finds Johnson again on the right baseline guarded by Henderson which he posted up only to fade-away off of Henderson's pressure netting yet another basket, edging the Bobcats now by five, 94-89 with 3 min remaining in the 4th.
On the following possession, Henderson drains a three pointer assisted by G Gary Neal with 2:46 left in the 4th coming to within two points shy of a tie trailing the Nets 92-94.
In close games, teams rely on their stars to influence the final outcome of a game, and this moment belonged to Williams as his contract warrants that responsibility to put the Nets over the top as all else fails.
He did not have to go far as the ball found him and he delivered as he should.
With the Nets clinging to a three-point lead as the 1 min mark passed, the crowd stood on its feet growing louder with each passing second as Williams stared down his defender, applied a crossover hesitation dribble and pulled-up for a jump-shot locating the Net without and trouble from the rim as the Nets grabbed a 5-point lead, 100-95 grabbing control of the game for good.
Williams led all scorers accumulating 25 points and 8 assists as his back-court mate in Johnson complimented his cause adding 20 points, grabbing 8 rebounds.
High scorers for the Bobcats featured Jefferson who was neutralized in the second half finishing with 18 points and Neal who finished with 17.
Williams performance grants him the player of the game award and Kidd took notice.
"Deron took control of the game," Kidd expressed to media correspondents in his post-game press conference.
Regarding his team's efforts Kidd continued saying, "They didn't panic, they stayed the course and executed on both ends when it mattered."
This win propelled the Nets past the Washington Wizards in the eastern conference standings as the Nets are now positioned as the 5th seed behind the Chicago Bulls.
Due to the Eastern Conference experiencing a down year, the Nets have an opportunity to seize the Bulls spot as the 4th seed as long as they continue to win and pray for the Bulls demise which is very unlikely.
Over the next five games, the Nets will face teams who contain a combined record of 150-192, which include the Boston Celtics, the Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Bobcats once more for the final time this season.
Based on talent alone, the Nets should be able to handle their business against the teams previously listed.
As for Brooklyn, a Nets win translates to a comfortable slumber.
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