Nets Edge Spurs In Overtime -- Early Struggle Thing Of Past?

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Mirza Teletovic led the Nets scoring


On Wednesday, the Brooklyn Nets defeated the NBA champions San Antonio Spurs, 95-93 in an overtime game, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to raise their record to 8-9.

It was the Nets second win in as many nights having beat the New York Knicks on Tuesday—and the win snapped the 8 game win streak of the NBA Champion Spurs. The Nets were led by forward Mirza Teletovic who scored 26 points—on 9-for-13 shooting—and grabbed 15 rebounds.

Point-guard Deron Williams scored 17 points and dished out 9 assists. Center Brook Lopez scored 16 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.

The Spurs were led by guard Danny Green—from West Babylon, Long Island—who scored 20 points, on 7-for-14 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds. Forward Manu Ginobili scored 15 points and Spurs forward Tim Duncan scored 14 points and grabbed 17 points.

For much of the game, the two teams exchanged leads. But during the third-quarter and early fourth-quarter, the Nets surged to a 15 point lead before the Spurs came charging back on a 15-2 run.

With 18.1 seconds left, Nets center Brooke Lopez banked in a jumper from the top of the key. On the ensuing possession, Ginobilli’s lay-up drive cut the lead to one. With 2.4 seconds left,  Danny Green hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to tie the score at 88-88. Joe Johnson’s running jumper rolled off the mark at the end of regulation.

In overtime, point-guard Deron Williams drew first blood by hitting a three-pointer and the Nets would outscore the Spurs 7-5 in overtime.  In the final seconds of overtime, Manu Ginobili missed a three pointer from the top of the key, with 4.9 seconds left, that would have given the Spurs the lead and possibly the win, in hard fought game.

"It's a shame," Ginobili said. "The truth is that we played bad for a big stretch of the game. We gathered ourselves and had until the last shot to win the game."

Spurs head coach Greg Popovitch was clearly not happy with the play of the Spurs.

"They were very sloppy. They didn't compete as hard as the Nets did, for more of the 48," the Spurs coach said. "The Nets wanted the game more than our starters did, I think. They might not agree with me, but I don't really care, because I'm right."

While the Spurs coach was not happy, Nets coach Lionel Hollings may have reason to be optimistic that the team’s early season struggles are coming to an end. Hollings, who was a successful coach with the Memphis Grizzlies, called the overtime win an important “growth spurt for his team.”

The Nets could be at a turning point after a slow start—and a few internal issues including recent comments by Nets star guard Joe Johnson who reportedly called out some of his teammates weeks ago for being “selfish.” Johnson is a very talented, and somewhat underrated, scorer in the NBA—and along with Brooke Lopez and Deron Williams forms a formidable offensive trio for the Nets.

Coach Hollings apparently calmed the waters by talking to Johnson about his comments. “When the comments were made, I did talk to him, I talked to the team,” Hollins said. “We’ve had numerous conversations about it. My feeling is every player has the right to his opinion -- whether it be right or wrong -- but there is a place and a time to do things.”

The coach seems to think that some of the internal friction has spurred a growth and maturation process in the team.

“We’ve come back and it’s all part of the growth process and the maturity process,” said Hollings. “I didn’t want go through it, but I think going through that has helped us as we move forward to being a closer team and be a more transparent team with each other. Understanding what it means to be a family, what it means to be in conflict and to overcome it because we’re committed to each other and we’re committed to winning.”

Those words sound good, but ultimately how far the Nets go will be determined by the play of Deron Williams and Brook Lopez—both of whom have had been beset by injuries in past seasons.

Lopez, who has had injury issues through his career, is a very talented scorer. However, many have criticized him for not showing enough initiative on the defensive end of the floor. And, indeed if Lopez is able to elevate his play on the defensive end—by taking a page out of the Kevin Garnett playbook—the Nets will fare better amongst Eastern Conference teams.

Then there is Deron Williams.

Great things were expected of Williams ever since he came to the Nets  from the Utah Jazz—where he and former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan were said to have butted heads. But injuries have also plagued Williams’ play ever since his arrival with the Nets, and, many are still waiting to see the player that was once considered one of the top point-guards in the league.

So far this year, Williams looks healthy and has played well. And for the Nets to ascend to an elite level, Williams will have to continue to play well and regain the kind of consistency he had a few years ago.



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