If ever you thought the Nets were snakebit, Tuesday night in San Antonio would have provided a valuable data point: with 24.2 seconds left, the Spurs, leading 113-92, decided not to shoot again, the shot-clock violation was duly called, and the Nets got possession for those last 0.2 seconds except that they’d already left for the locker room. Coach Jason Kidd had to call a timeout and go find some players for that last smidgen of time.
Kidd apparently made a point about time utilization, because tonight with 0.9 seconds left in the third quarter, Paul Pierce put up a lovely fadeaway from about 16 feet to bring the Nets to within 14 of the Thunder and then Deron Williams stole the ball from Jeremy Lamb and sank a trey at the horn. Nine seconds into the fourth, Williams, assisted by Andrei Kirilenko, dropped in a jumper. Seven points in ten seconds! Brooklyn kept pressing, and took a two-point lead with 2:01 left on, yes, a Williams trey. Oklahoma City tied it up at 93-all at 0:058; Joe Johnson got off a 20-footer at the buzzer to win it for Brooklyn, 95-93.
So how about those Nets? When they stay focused, they can win. They brought their mid-30s shooting up to 44 percent at the end. They pulled off 13 steals. And they did most of this without Kevin Garnett at Maximum Mean; KG took only four shots all night, making two. It didn’t hurt that Kevin Durant played most of the fourth quarter with five fouls, although KD’s line (24 points on 8-13 shooting) wasn’t too awful. Serge Ibaka logged another double-double, with 10 points and 11 rebounds. And here’s a first: Perry Jones III (!) led the bench with 11.
But there was just no stopping Deron Williams, who came up with a season-high 29 on a mere 17 shots. Paul Pierce bagged 18, and Alan Anderson topped the reserves with 13.
If nothing else, we’ve learned this from the last two games: you can’t let up in the fourth quarter. Will this lesson carry over to Saturday night in Minnesota? Beats me.