BROOKLYN–The final 23.9 seconds of the first half were running off the Barclays Center clock and at least three-quarters of the Brooklyn Nets bench was on its feet, urging on the players on the court.
This is what a winning basketball team looks like.
Joe Johnson sank a jumper with 1.9 seconds left giving the Nets a 4-point lead heading into the locker room. They never looked back, blasting the Orlando Magic 101-90 in a game that wasn’t nearly that close in the second half.
“We got that swag now that we feel we can beat anybody when we get out there, so that’s kind of what we’ve been missing,” said Deron Williams, who came off the bench for a second game and just missed a double-double with 9 points and 9 assists.
The Nets opened the third quarter with an 18-6 run (remember when the third quarter was a horror show for the Nets?) for their sixth straight home win.
And for the first time this season, the Nets swept back-to-back games.
"For us coming off the back-to-back, we haven't had that much success – if any,’’ said Coach Jason Kidd. “No matter who the opponent was – it was about trying to get back-to-back wins."
This is how a winning team thinks.
After crushing the Knicks 103-80, the focus immediately shifted to what the Nets must do to get better. Sweeping back-to-back games, which the Nets had failed at the first seven times, was the next step in the evolution of the Nets as a winning team.
The Nets (18-22) moved to within two games of the Toronto Raptors for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Nets are a league-best 8-1 in 2014.
It was the Magic who humbled the Nets 107-86 on Nov. 3 in Orlando, two nights after Brooklyn beat Miami here in the home opener. The team that took the court Tuesday night bears no resemblance to that team.
“The biggest thing about this turnaround is we never got down on one another,” said Paul Pierce. “We’ve never had the finger pointing, we’ve never put the blame on anybody but ourselves. We kept coming to work, kept staying professional because we still believed we’d turn this thing around.
“The thing is, when you believe and you continue to get through the tough patches, it shows how things can kind of turnaround, and that’s what you see right now.”
What you see is a team that made 40 field goals off 29 assists.
What you see is a team that had nine players get at least 20 minutes of playing time and none more than 30.
The Nets got another great game out of Andray Blatche, who had 18 points off the bench. Blatche scored 5 points in 47 seconds on a monster jam and a 3 from the corner.
How many players 6-11, 260 pounds can do that? Then again, how many teams have turned it around like the Nets?
“We don’t like losing,’’ said Jason Terry. “We don’t like being called losers. I think that’s what got to us more than anything.’’