GM King Says Kidd has Given Nets an Identity as They Win Their 11th Straight Home Game


BROOKLYN - In this remarkable post-All Star break run by the Brooklyn Nets, one of the few games they'd like to have back was played on March 7.

The Nets went into TD Garden and forgot who they were.

They hoisted up 3s like revelers lifting beers on St. Patrick's Day. Instead of making the extra pass, they settled and shot.

And missed. And missed. And missed.

Thirty 3s went up that night. Only four went down in a 91-84 loss to the rebuilding Boston Celtics.

Before the rematch Friday night in Barclays Center, Coach Jason Kidd said the team had discussed that defeat, had learned from it.

The Nets, breaking out their alternate home jerseys – adidas grey, short-sleeve V-neck with blue lettering and trim – for the first time, left the Celtics feeling seasick green.

Brooklyn overwhelmed Boston, 114-98. In doing so, the Nets showed some of the facets of play that have made them one of the most successful teams since the All-Star break.

The Nets had 30 assists, got 45 points from the bench and converted 9-of -17 smart 3s. Joe Johnson led with 27 points on 6-of-8 shooting from behind the arc.

Before the game, Nets GM Billy King announced that center Brook Lopez had surgery on March 3 to repair ligament and tendon damage in his left ankle, which he sprained twice before breaking a bone in his right foot on Dec. 20.

King attributed the Nets (36-31) turnaround from when they were (10-21) to the growth of Kidd.

"Now we have a system of how we're going to play, an identity,'' said King. "So now, in putting a team together, I know which players to add to it. That's something we've been searching for awhile, is getting an identity.''

What's the identity of the Brooklyn Nets?

They defend their house.

The win was the 11th straight in the basketball cathedral on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues. It is the third longest win streak in franchise history.

The Nets had to completely change their strategy for the season after losing Lopez. They anticipated a big, physical, grinding team.

But Kidd had to move power forward Kevin Garnett to center and small forward Paul Pierce to the stretch four. The results?

Once out of the playoff picture, the Nets now are one and one-half games behind the Toronto Raptors for first place in the Atlantic Division. They hold the fifth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"Come playoff time, we feel like we can compete with the best of them,'' said Paul Pierce. "We feel like we can be one of the better teams in the East if not come out of the East. I think we're going to surprise a couple of teams."

Pierce credited Kidd, as did King.

"It's easy to criticize you when you have a new team and trying to put it together, and now nobody's saying how great a job he's done,'' said King. "It's easy to attack people, but when they have success, you should give them the credit. I think a lot of our success, it's directly related to him."

King said surgery on Lopez was successful and is not expected to affect Lopez's recovery from the foot surgery he had on Jan. 4.

Lopez was lost for the season after suffering a broken bone in his right foot on Dec. 20. King said the timetable for Lopez to be back on the court is June.

Lopez had surgery to repair the fifth metatarsal and had a procedure known as a first metatarsal osteotomy, in which another bone was repositioned in his foot to "unload and protect the injured area."

He broke the same bone in December of 2011 and played just five games in the 2011-12 season.

He had a screw replaced in the foot this past off-season and was having a terrific season until getting hurt, averaging 20.7 points on 56-percent shooting with six rebounds.

King said that Lopez had a partial tear in the tendon in the left ankle and that the 7-foot center was willing to, "tough it out" through the season.