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Nets beat Bobcats, attribute winning lately to familiarity, better health

Nets forward Paul Pierce reacts after scoring a

Nets forward Paul Pierce reacts after scoring a three-point shot against the Charlotte Bobcats during the second half at Barclays Center on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

So here are the talking points as the Nets tack toward the NBA All-Star break with a pretty good wind at their backs:

Might the five-day sabbatical from league play stop the music on their increasingly harmonious play? Wednesday night's 105-89 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats kept them sailing along with a 14-5 record in 2014 after a stumbling 10-21 start to the season.

What's the trick to keep the potent mix between games when old pros Paul Pierce (25 points Wednesday night), Deron Williams (13) and Kevin Garnett (10) alternate starring roles with non-starters such as Mirza Teletovic and Mason Plumlee, who recently bounced off the bench to be game-high scorers?

All-Star break aside, might the Nets' upcoming, extended stretch away from home -- beginning Thursday night in Chicago and keeping them away from Brooklyn until March 3 -- poison the water a bit? After the break, the Nets will rack up 7,414 miles trekking to Salt Lake City, Oakland, Los Angeles, Portland, Denver, Milwaukee and back home.

Is larceny a secret to success? The Nets, even with only three steals Wednesday night, have averaged just under 10 per game in their 19 games in 2014. Or is it all about sharing the ball? The Nets totaled 23 assists Wednesday night.

"Ball movement on offense," coach Jason Kidd said. "Everybody was touching it, and it all started on the defensive end, getting stops and being able to take advantage of guys moving forward, passing up shots and making plays for their teammates."

Charlotte never led again after going ahead 4-2. And, with Pierce's early hot hand -- three three-pointers in the first six minutes, then two more to start the second period -- Kidd was able to spread playing time almost evenly between his first and second units.

"It's big," Kidd said. "This is a quick turnaround . This is a chance for us to get better on back-to-back games." (They are 2-9 in the second game in such cases). "A lot of guys didn't play a lot of minutes, so we'll see what happens."

Charlotte was down by a mere six at the half, 50-44, but the Nets reeled off a 15-3 surge to start the second half -- 11 of those by Pierce -- and were up by as many as 27, at 85-58, with a minute to go in the third period.

They are 22-1 when taking a lead into the fourth period.

"It's the stretch run now," Pierce said. "There are 31 games left. It's the stretch run, teams are either going to move forward or fall all the way back. We're a team that's trying to move forward and make a run in the standings."

So, here comes the All-Star break and the Nets' geographical adventure. "It can be a challenge," Kidd said, "but I think, when you look at the veteran guys we have in our locker room, they understand what they have to do.

"For a veteran ballclub, it's always good to have a break. For guys like K.G. [Garnett] and Paul, it's good to get some rest. When we talk about the marathon, it goes into a sprint. With 31 games, you try and position yourself for the best playoff spot you can."


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