Friday, February 28, 2014
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Nets shake off loss, crush Nuggets

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[February 28, 2014]  DENVER -- In 2002, after his New Jersey Nets team came to Denver and beat the Nuggets by 26, Jason Kidd described the game as a glorified practice.

Twelve years later, Kidd, now coach of the Brooklyn Nets, probably got a sense of deja vu.

Forward Paul Pierce scored 18 points before sitting out the entire fourth quarter, and the Nets raced out to a big lead early and never relented in a 112-89 win over the Nuggets on Thursday night.

Guard Marcus Thornton scored 10 points in his second game since joining Brooklyn at the trade deadline last week, and forward Mason Plumlee added 10 points. Nets forward Joe Johnson also scored 10 points before watching much of the game in his warmups.

"I don't know what you can take away from it," Johnson said. "It felt like a pickup game."

It was the kind of effort Kidd was looking for after his team was on the wrong end of a 44-point blowout in Portland on Wednesday. The Nets were in control from the start Thursday and were never threatened.

"We didn't play well last night at all, but we had another game," Kidd said. "We came, we showed. Right from the tip, the guys came with the energy, defensively we got stops, and from there we started making shots."
 


The Nets have played well since the beginning of 2014. They were 11 games under .500 when the year started, but a 17-8 run has them 27-29 and within reach of the Toronto Raptors for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Injuries hurt the Nets early in the season, and they suffered a 24-point loss to Denver in Brooklyn on Dec. 3. Forward Andrei Kirilenko as well as Pierce and point guard Deron Williams missed that game.

They all played Thursday, and they embarrassed the now-woeful Nuggets despite solid games from Denver forward Kenneth Faried and guard Randy Foye. Faried had 14 points and eight rebounds, and Foye finished with 15 points.

"I didn't say anything, I just told them when practice was tomorrow," Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said of his postgame talk. "There's not really much you can say in a situation like this right now, emotions being what they are. I thought it was better to forget about it and we'll get after it tomorrow."

The players might have nightmares about Denver's worst period of the season. The Nuggets shot 3-for-18 from the field in the first quarter and had as many points as turnovers -- eight.

It was the lowest-scoring quarter of the season for Denver, and it led to a blowout defeat on national TV for the second time in a week. The Chicago Bulls beat the Nuggets by 28 last Friday.

Denver missed layups and dunks in its worst quarter in years. The franchise low is three points, set Nov. 27, 2002, at San Antonio.

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"I think I can speak for everybody in the locker room when I say to be part of something like tonight, it's embarrassing," said Nuggets forward J.J. Hickson, who had 14 points and seven rebounds. "We know exactly what we have to do to win, and we're just not doing it."

The Nets took advantage of Denver's poor start. They led 29-8 after the first quarter and 49-18 midway through the second.

The Nuggets went on an 11-2 run to get within 22 points before halftime, but Brooklyn outscored them 30-20 in the third to squelch any comeback.

"We looked fresh after the back-to-back," Kidd said. "Normally we don't look fresh. The guys were getting stops, and we were getting easy baskets. We were sharing the ball, multiple guys were touching the ball, it wasn't just one guy just taking it and shooting it. Guys were creating movement, and there was a lot of trust offensively."

The Nets led by as many as 38 in the second half in handing Denver its ninth loss in 10 games.

The packed Pepsi Center had a mass exodus late in the third quarter, but the fans who stuck around gave Nets center Jason Collins a warm welcome when he entered the game with 8:02 remaining.

Collins, who signed a 10-day contract with Brooklyn on Monday, is the first openly gay player to compete in the NBA. He scored his first bucket of the season and finished with three points and four fouls.

"I got them a bucket, and of course I had my usual three, four, five fouls," Collins said.

NOTES: Nuggets F Wilson Chandler did not dress for the game because of a right knee injury. Chandler practiced Wednesday, but the knee acted up at Thursday's shootaround. Chandler's absence, along with injuries to F Darrell Arthur (left hip strain), G Nate Robinson (left knee surgery) and G Ty Lawson (fractured rib), left Denver with nine available players. ... Nets C Jason Collins said he planned to meet with the parents of Matthew Shepard after the game. Shepard was killed in Wyoming in 1998 in an anti-gay attack, and he is one of the reasons why Collins, the first openly gay man to play in the NBA, wears No. 98. Shepard was killed in 1998. ... The Nuggets have used 19 starting lineups this season, and the Nets have used 20. Brooklyn ranks fourth in the league in that category.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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