Nets Post First Four-Game Winning Streak of Season, Bolster Playoff Push
BROOKLYN – A four-game winning streak isn’t usually cause for celebration.
But when it hasn’t happened all season, when it happens as a team is fighting and clawing to make the playoffs, when the setbacks and frustrations of an entire season are being put to rest with a late-season surge, well, Brooklyn Nets fans have every reason to celebrate.
The Nets pulled away from the Indiana Pacers for a 111-106 win Tuesday night at Barclays Center that vaults Brooklyn over the Boston Celtics and back into the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The win improves the Nets’ record to 33-40 and gives them the tiebreaker over the Pacers (32-42). The idle Celtics (33-41) are a half game back.
The Nets used the same formula that has worked for them since the All-Star break. Brook Lopez, who on Monday was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the first time in his career, scored a team-high 24 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked two shots.
It was the Nets’ first four-game winning streak of the season, their eighth win in the last 10 games. They are 12-9 since the All-Star break and 6-4 at Barclays Center.
“We finally just played freely at home and got after it,” said Coach Lionel Hollins.
KEY PLAY: The Pacers, trailing 105-100, had the ball with 1:02 left and a chance to put real pressure on the Nets. Instead, the Nets used great defensive pressure to force 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert to attempt to avoid a shot clock violation by hoisting just his second three-pointer of the season. He shot an airball and is 0 for 2 on the season and 6 of 22 for his career from behind the arc.
“We’ll take our chances with that one,” said Hollins.
KEY PLAY II: On the next possession, the Nets showed much better composure than the Pacers. With the shot clock winding down, Lopez made the extra pass, finding Joe Johnson open for a three. Johnson buried it for a 108-100 lead.
KEY STRETCH I: The Nets closed the first quarter on a 20-2 run to take a 33-15 lead.
KEY STRETCH II: The Pacers answered with a 37-17 surge in the second quarter to take a 52-50 lead.
KET STRETCH III: The Pacers and Nets were tied 76-76 with just over two minutes left in the third quarter in this game of runs. The Nets got the final say with a 19-9 run that gave them a 95-85 lead with about six minutes left to play.
NETS GAINS: Alan Anderson is one of those players who leaves his fingerprints all over a game. Anderson scored 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 3 of 4 from behind the arc. He added two rebounds, one assist and played his trademark relentless, physical defense.
KEY STAT: The Nets continue to play beautiful team basketball. They had 25 assists on 40 field goals and committed just seven turnovers. The starting five committed just one turnover.
TALK: Hollins on whether or not a team can develop mental toughness:
“You tell me. It seems that way. We’re more together. Let’s put it that way. We care more about each other. When you have adversity, you just pull together and keep fighting.”