Let’s be honest.
It looked like the Thunder were about to blow the Nets away in the third quarter, when they opened up that 15-point lead. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were having fun, bouncing all over the Barclays Center.
Durant tried to posterize Andray Blatche. Westbrook was acting like he was a cowboy in the Wild West, blowing off a pair of six-shooters and pretending to stick them in his hip pocket.
Suddenly, the Nets couldn’t miss from deep. It started raining three-pointers. The crowd anticipated a possible comeback, bubbling up with each Gerald Wallace triple.
Durant and & Co. held the Nets off at the end -- albeit barely -- and escaped Brooklyn with a 117-111 victory. Afterward the Nets weren’t exactly celebrating a moral victory.
But given they were without Brook Lopez (foot) and Reggie Evans (flu), they weren’t too glum and felt proud with the way they kept nibbling away until they had a chance to steal it back away late in the fourth quarter.
But what took so long for it to even even get to that point?
“It was just our attitude,” Blatche said. “It was just us. We were down and we are not going to give up. We didn’t give up and we came out with a lot more effort. The first half, I felt like our effort wasn’t there the way it should have been.
“We just didn’t get the lead.”
On to the Three Pointers:
--* Deron finally saw the ball go through the hoop.
If nothing else, it was good for his psyche after draining his first few shots. In particular, there was one three-pointer he hoisted from the ‘A’ in the Barclays Center logo on the floor in front of the Nets’ bench as the shot clock was winding down. The 32-footer dropped to give them an 18-17 lead and you had to know it was going to be Williams’ night then.
He netted a season-high 33 points to go along with seven assists and four rebounds. He sank 10 of 19 shots, including 5 of 9 from three-point range, and he hit 8 of 10 free throws as well.
Deron was quite candid after the Nets’ loss in Miami Saturday night. Although he’s banged up and nearly aggravates his sore right wrist every game, he made it clear it was a lack of confidence that had him struggling from the floor and he knew shooting 38 percent isn’t going to cut it.
No doubt, he was frustrated. But not Tuesday night.
“I just wanted to be more aggressive and I didn’t know I was going to get going like that,” Williams said. “That’s one of those games where I see a couple of shots go in and you get your confidence. I was looking for a game like this.
“It stinks that it was in a loss, but I’m definitely happy that I got going a little bit.”
Avery said: "He was aggressive. He spent a lot of time after practice shooting the ball and we just gave him that extra day to get his body together. So it carried over on the floor. He shot the ball really well. But Deron, he was much more aggressive tonight and that’s what we are going to need."
--* Joe’s rollercoaster continues. His jumper keeps betraying him.
If you look at the scoring column and see Joe finished with 17 points, you’d think he had a good game offensively. But anyone who watched the game could see Joe’s shot just wasn’t there.
In 42:49 of action, he went 8-for-21 from the field and made just one of seven attempts from downtown. But the most glaring stat is the one that occupies the free throw category: there’s a pair of zeroes.
Joe posted up only occasionally on the blocks, something he should be doing more of with no Lopez down there operating. That’s where he has to be more assertive and even demand for the ball.
“I’ve got to put more pressure on the defense by attacking,” Joe said, “and trying to get to free throw line. It’s unacceptable for me not to get to the line at least six, seven times a game. So it’ll take the hit for that. But we’ll get back to the drawing board and take a couple of days off and get ready for our next game.”
--* Time for some R & R.
It’s certainly not a bye week by any means. Nor is it the All-Star break. But Avery is giving the Nets the next two days off to help heal the bumps and bruises.
The 82-game grind is never kind, but the schedule-makers did the Nets no favors with the wacky opening-month calendar.
They’ve already had two trips to Florida, the second as part of a three-game jaunt that began in Boston. They played three games in four nights in California, going from the north part of the state (Sacramento) to down south (Los Angeles) to back up north (Oakland).
A day after flying home on Thanksgiving morning from the Bay Area, they played a game against the Clippers at the Barclays Center, followed by a game versus the Blazers two days later.
Oh yeah, the next day, there was that rescheduled matchup with the Knicks.
So, the Nets, who have upcoming games against the Warriors Friday and the Bucks Sunday, are due for a break.
“We are going to give quite a few guys some rest,” Avery said. “They need it. We are coming out a stretch where we played nine games in 14 days, especially because of the one game that was rescheduled. So we kind of need to get our legs back underneath us and get some guys healthy.
“Once we do that and get back to playing our style of defense, the season can be a season of cycles. Obviously, we are not in a great cycle right now. No time to panic. We still have a very, very good club. Hopefully, we’ll get Reggie back on Friday. We’ll see where Brook is in his rehab situation.”