Marcus Thornton leads Nets over Kings, his former team
The heat check fell through the net, sparking a roar from a sleepy crowd Sunday night as he turned to the Kings' bench and delivered a quick stare as if to say "take that!"
Just in case there was any doubt how much this one meant to him, Marcus Thornton made it crystal-clear at that very moment in the fourth quarter, finding his own little way to stick it to the Kings for giving up on him.
Once a starter in Sacramento, Thornton was cast aside faster than a batch of week-old leftovers, and he showed his old team that he still can fill it up at a breakneck pace at a moment's notice.
Thornton scored 27 points, matching his highest total as a Net, and had 21 of them in the second half. He even posted a string of 13 straight points all by himself, lifting the Nets to a 104-89 win at Barclays Center.
"I mean, yeah, it's always fun to play your former team and see your homeboys and your teammates from the past," said Thornton, who shot 11-for-15 and went 5-for-8 from three-point range. "But my job was to focus on getting this win, and we did."
During a night when the arena DJ played a number of songs by the late Brooklyn-born rapper Notorious "B.I.G." in remembrance of his being killed 17 years ago to the day, Thornton certainly lived up to one of the titles of the rapper's chart-topping singles. He was "Unbelievable." Particularly in the second half, when he canned 8 of 10 shots and shot 5-for-7 from long range to ignite the Nets (31-30).
Thornton shot 6-for-7 in the fourth, taking several temperature checks to see just how hot he was. He keyed the Nets' 53.2 percent shooting. Paired with a swarming defense that has forced 102 turnovers in the last four games, it was more than enough, even though Kevin Garnett sat out and Paul Pierce and Andrei Kirilenko left with injuries.
"He's been huge for us," said Deron Williams, who had 10 points and seven assists. "What he brings off the bench, his spark, his energy, shooting the basketball, there's not too many guys who can do what he does. He's one of those guys who's like instant hot. He comes in, hits one and then it's like 'NBA Jam.' He's on fire. We are definitely happy to have him on board now."
Even if he doesn't know all of the offensive sets yet. In the fourth, quarter, Williams tried to direct Thornton, motioning for him to go deep into the left corner beyond the three-point arc. Seconds later, he waved for Thornton to run through the lane. Instead, Thornton simply parked himself behind the arc. Williams tossed him the ball and he raised up and fired, hitting nothing but net.
"There's plays. He knows them. It's called, 'Shoot it,' " Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "He reminds me of Eddie House, someone that I played with in the league. Quick release, a threat behind the arc but can also get to the basket. So I think for Marcus, he's been playing extremely well since the trade and he gives us another weapon offensively."