It was a hectic day for the Brooklyn Nets. They started it by waiving Joe Johnson and ended it with a dominant win over the Phoenix Suns. Brooklyn was coming into the game off of a rough 8 point loss against the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday. Even without Joe Jesus, the Nets played strong and maintained control throughout the game.
Phoenix has been in a bit of tailspin this season. They lost their star guard Eric Bledsoe back in December due to a torn meniscus. Brandon Knight has also been out since January. The loss of these two guards has significantly impacted their winning chances. Add on-and-off again injuries with center Tyson Chandler and you've got yourself an ugly situation, ugly enough to lose to the Nets by 10.
The Joe Johnson Memorial Game
No Joe? No problem for the Nets. Coach Tony Brown elected to start Bojan Bogdanovic in place of Johnson and he performed phenomenally. He had 24 points for Brooklyn and shot the ball nicely. Bogdanovic scored 20 of those in the first half alone to give a 21 point lead for the Nets. He was joined by Thaddeus Young in the domination department. Thad had 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 steals. The other three starters had solid nights themselves, but not quite as big. Brook Lopez and Wayne Ellington both had 12 points on the night. Donald Sloan chipped in 13, along with 9 rebounds and 6 assists. Markel Brown continued to stay hot, scoring 16 points off the bench. The Nets scored a season-high 66 points in the first half.
The Nets played some familiar faces in Phoenix. Kris Humphries and Mirza Teletovic are both former Nets currently playing for the Suns. Teletovic signed in free-agency last summer and Humphries was sent to Phoenix in the Markieff Morris trade with the Washington Wizards. Mirza had a monster night for Phoenix. He scored 30 points off the bench and grabbed 11 boards. Humphries was the exact opposite. The starter had 0 points on a 0-9 shooting night. He did manage to grab 10 rebounds but also committed 3 turnovers.
Valiant Final Effort
While the first half was a total blowout, the second half was much closer. The Mirza Teletovic led Suns mounted a comeback late in the fourth and cut the lead down to as little as 10. Brooklyn went almost eight minutes without scoring a single bucket. It was looking like the Nets might blow another one but Thad Young quickly put a stop to that. He nailed a few clutch shots in the final minutes to give the Nets a 16-42 record and snap a seven-game road losing streak. As for Phoenix, they drop to an ugly 14-44 on the season.
New Look Nets?
It was strange watching a Nets game without Joe Johnson lurking at the three-point line. Every pass sent beyond-the-arc was reminiscent of a clutch shot from Joe. Instead, the ball was in Bojan Bogdanovic's hands and tonight that was a good thing. The rest of the season will be essential for Bogdanovic. Even Markel Brown and Wayne Ellington will be desperate to make an impact in Johnson's absence. Nothing is set in stone at the SG position, and it's time for someone to prove they're worthy. Let the battle begin.
The Nets next game will be against the Utah Jazz on Saturday. Phoenix will be facing off against the Memphis Grizzlies tomorrow night.