The Brooklyn Nets have already won five games -- but Thursday night served as their first “breakthrough” victory in their new borough.
In front of a frenzied sellout crowd at Barclays Center, the Nets got big shots from their big guns in the fourth quarter, and fended off the five-time defending Atlantic Division champion Boston Celtics, 102-97.
“This was one of the biggest games we’ve had in (my) two-plus years being here, and especially in our new home with our fans,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said. “I remember when the Celtics would come in the last two years (at Prudential Center), and they’d have 75-to-80 percent of the fans, so it’s just great to see now that we’ve got our fans, they’re into the games, hollering ‘BROOK-LYN!’ ... It’s really fun to be a part of.”
The Nets (5-2) have now won four straight games for the first time since Mar. 14, 2011.
During the streak, the Nets have outscored their opponents by an average of 16.3 points.
However, this one was anything but a laugher.
With the score knotted at 87 late in the game, Johnson, who had a dismal shooting night (6-for-19), drained back-to-back jumpers, and Lopez (24 points on 11-for-14 from the field) converted a putback off a missed shot to make it 93-87 with 1:45 left.
The Celtics cut Brooklyn’s lead to one in the final minute, but Johnson and Deron Williams (24 points, eight assists on a bum right leg) combined to go 7-for-8 from the free-throw stripe in crunch-time to clinch the “W.”
“We showed a lot of resiliency in that fourth quarter,” Johnson said. “I just wasn’t making shots like I normally do. But in the last three or four minutes of the game, I just tried to focus in a little more and be more aggressive.”
Brooklyn’s “Big Three” of Johnson, Lopez and D-Will combined to score 67 points, and the Nets overcame shooting 42.4 percent by grabbing 18 offensive rebounds and scoring 23 second-chance points.
“We’re 5-2, so we’re definitely happy with the record,” Williams said. “And we feel like we haven’t even played close to our best basketball, so i think that’s the most promising thing. We still have a lot of room for improvement on both ends of the floor, and we’ll continue to work on it and get better.”