by Alex Sims, November 29, 2012
Deron Williams was proud of the poise displayed by the Brooklyn Nets during a wild road victory in Boston on Monday night.
A second-quarter brawl at the TD Garden resulted in three ejections, but the Nets remained under control to pull out the 95-83 victory thanks to eight points, seven assists and four rebounds from D-Will and a big scoring boost provided by the Brooklyn bench.
"We can't back down. It's not about being tough guys or anything like that, but we're just not going to back down from anybody," Deron said. “We did a good job of keeping our composure. They made a little run in the second half, but we were able to withstand that, keep our focus mentally and finish the game."
Brooklyn forward Kris Humphries fouled Boston's Kevin Garnett as he went up for a basket less than a minute before the break. Boston point guard Rajon Rondo reacted as Garnett fell to the floor, punching and shoving Humphries back toward the bleachers, sparking a brawl between that carried into the front row of the stands.
"I was surprised Hump got ejected," Deron said. “We looked at it at halftime. It wasn't a bad foul. KG feel hard, but it wasn't a bad foul, he didn't push him out of the play or anything…
D-Will told the Daily News that as he saw it, Rondo grabbed Humphries near the neck and the Nets forward ended up with scratches on his arm and neck.
"What is he supposed to do? (Retreating back with your hands up) sounds good. If guys haven't been in a fight, that's what they would do. They would get whooped too."
The play resulted in the ejections of Humphries, Rondo and Gerald Wallace who jumped in to defend his outnumbered teammate. No. 8 wasn't directly involved in the fight, but did go in to pull players from the fray once it spilled into the stands.
At the time, Brooklyn had just taken a 51-35 lead off a Reggie Evans jump shot assisted by D-Will, and the Nets never would relinquish that lead.
Boston made a second-half surge with the two Brooklyn starters out, forcing the Net bench to take on the brunt of the scoring. Andray Blatche led the way, tallying 17 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Jerry Stackhouse added 17 of his own, finishing 5-of-6 from three, while C.J. Watson had 13 points and Reggie Evans recorded five points and 10 boards.
"We've talked about, since we assembled this team, how deep we feel we are. Tonight's a good example," No. 8 said. “We lose two guys who get kicked out of the game and other guys come in and step up. Dray came in and stepped up, CJ played well. Stack keeps doing his thing. We're rolling right now and those guys are just coming in and giving us a big lift off the bench."
The Brooklyn bench netted a combined 52 points, more than the Net starting five and nearly triple that of the Boston bench. Much of that was due to the air-tight defensive play of the Net reserves and the starters who remained. Brooklyn has allowed just 90.7 points per game this season to lead the NBA.
"[Defense] was the biggest question mark coming in, if this team could play defense," D-Will said. “We've answered that a little bit, but there's still a long way to go. We can still get better. We still have lapses at times."
The kind of defensive play Brooklyn has shown over the last four games will need to, not only continue, but improve going forward as the Nets are destined to be locked into a battle atop the Atlantic Division and for pecking order in the Eastern Conference. By defeating Boston, Brooklyn remained tied at the top of the Atlantic with the New York Knicks and just half of a game back of the Miami Heat in the East. Afterward, D-Will was asked if he believes Brooklyn is among the top teams in the Atlantic.
"I think we are," Deron said. “It's still early, but that's our goal, to get to the playoffs and hopefully win the division. It's not going to be easy, nothing is going to be given to us, so we have to go out there and play to the best of our ability. We have a tough division, one of the toughest in the conference. Everybody is playing well. New York is playing well. Philly is playing well. Boston is always going to be there. So it's a tough division."
The Brooklyn Nets (10-4) continue a three-game East Coast road trip as they head to Orlando for game three of their season series with the Magic (5-9) on Friday.
The Nets completed a home-and-home sweep of the Magic earlier this month including a 107-68 beat down in Orlando. Two days later in Brooklyn, D-Will netted 17 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and two blocks to lead the Nets to an 82-74 victory. Chemistry has been the key in the rebirth of the Nets franchise, and will key for the team's success in Orlando and beyond.
"We have a great group of guys. We enjoy being around each other, not just on the court, but off the court. That helps translate on the court. We're just having a lot of fun right now. We have our defense down pat for the most part and we're winning."
Friday night's game is slated to tip from at 7 p.m. EST from the Amway Center in Orlando and will air on the YES Network.
- Fight overshadows game as Nets put a beatdown on Celtics (New York Post, November 29, 2012)
- Nets survive fight night in Boston, beat Celtics (New York Daily News, November 28, 2012)
- Nets with the battle of Boston (Newsday, November 28, 2012)
- Nets don't back down in Boston (Wall Street Journal, November 28, 2012)
- Nets Show Cool and Toughness (New York Times, November 28, 2012)