Brooklyn Nets usher in 2014 with consecutive wins

By Samindra Kunti – 2013 was a torrid year for the nine local sports franchises, including the Brooklyn Nets,  in New York City’s metropolitan area. The Nets had an overall winning record of 46-43 in 2013, but the pre-season hype soon turned into an odyssey of misery as rookie coach Jason Kidd and his team were overwhelmed, even in a largely mediocre Eastern Conference league.

The new year has started off on a more positive note for the Brooklyn-based franchise: last Thursday the Nets beat Oklahoma City on the road and yesterday the Nets saw off the Cleveland Cavaliers 89-82 at the Barclays Center to record back-to-back wins.

Jason Kidd decided to rest Kevin Garnett; the visitors were missing their star player Kyrie Irving with a left knee contusion.

The Nets coasted to a convincing halftime lead of 14 points, 51-38, with Paul Pierce (11) and Deron Williams (13) leading the charge. The overall play of the Nets was encouraging: Williams showed consistency and Pierce played the stretch. Andrei Kirilenko chipped in with admirable defensive work during his 7:30 minutes on the court.

Kidd recognized Kirilenko’s contribution. “He is a pro. Sometimes the stat sheet doesn’t show it but he does all the little things, coming up with loose balls, finding open teammates and being able to cut and finish plays,” he said after the game.

Kidd’s outfit nearly lost the plot, once again, in the third quarter as the Nets allowed Cleveland back into the game. The Cavaliers outscored (27-16) and outrebounded (13-4) the Nets in the third quarter, cutting the deficit to just two points.

Again, it seemed a little mystifying why the Nets couldn’t capitalize on a strong first half. This time, however, they rallied and avoided a dismal third-quarter becoming their downfall once more. Andrey Blatche scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and Mirza Teletovic hit a crucial three-pointer with 14.6 seconds on the buzzer as the Nets hung on to victory, 89-82.

The question remains now whether Kidd and his charges can build on the momentum they have gained in the past two games? The Atlanta Hawks are up next on Monday.

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