Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson lead Nets over Clippers
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Deron Williams was dribbling the ball in front of the midcourt line with just under 35 seconds left when the crowd rose in unison.
The Nets were on the verge of a much-needed victory and the crowd was in a festive mood, knowing just how big a win it would be to knock off one of the NBA's hottest teams.
On the strength of a game-ending 12-2 run, the Nets pulled off their most impressive win of the season, taking down the Clippers, 86-76, before a sellout crowd of 17,732 at the Barclays Center Friday night.
Holding the high-flying Clippers, who came in averaging 102.4 points per game, to 29 second-half points was no small feat for the Nets (7-4). Chris Paul was a non-factor in the game's final 24 minutes, bottled up by the Nets' swarming defense.
"It was a great defensive game for us," Williams said. "We had a game plan on certain guys and we stuck to that . . . We just tried to make things as hard as possible for [Paul]. He was getting in the lane and was able to dish in the first half to a lot of guys, and we were switching a lot at the end and putting our big guys on him and just trying to make him finish.
"He ended up turning the ball over a couple of times down the stretch, which was good for us because he does a great job of taking care of the ball."
Joe Johnson (8-for-12 shooting, 19 points) found his stroke, the biggest a wide-open three-pointer with just under two minutes left. That gave the Nets an 82-74 lead, essentially sealing the win and ending the Nets' two-game slide. Johnson was aggressive with his moves all night, refusing to simply rely on a jump shot that's been spotty.
"I looked at the last two ballgames, especially the two that we lost," Johnson said. "And I just wanted to get away from just living off jump shots, trying to get more to the basket, whether it's getting my runner off or trying go get a free throw."
"We pretty much know [the Clippers]," Nets defensive stopper Gerald Wallace said. "They [have a] high-energy, up-tempo team with Chris Paul pushing and he loves pick-and-rolls. So one of our main things was to kind of take the other guys out of the game and make him finish, make him make plays."