NEWARK, N.J. -- One stop.
That’s all that separated the New Jersey Nets from a perfect homestand. Had Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki’s fallaway jumper not gone down with six seconds left, the Nets would’ve gone 5-0.
Still, after beating the Memphis Grizzlies, 93-88, on Wednesday night at the Prudential Center, the Nets will gladly settle for a 4-1. They closed out the first half just 10-31, but have since won four of their last five.
So what’s been the difference?
“We got good mental and physical energy,” head coach Avery Johnson said. “We do not make multiple errors on consecutive possessions. We are swinging the ball on offense. Right now, the spirit on our team is at an all-time high just in terms of all the things we tried to implement on trying to change this culture. We are seeing some of the product of some of our hard work on and off the floor.”
Point guard Devin Harris, who scored 13 points and dished out nine assists on Wednesday night, expanded on Johnson’s response.
“I think the ball movement,” Harris said. “Defensively, we’ve locked down when we get to that moment of truth when we really need to get stops, we’ve done it, especially late in the game. Executing offensively and defensively, but really the ball is just moving and guys are hitting open shots.”
The Nets’ fourth quarter on Wednesday night seemed to epitomize Harris’ analysis. They went 9-for-15 from the field in the final 12 minutes, including 4-for-5 from beyond the 3-point arc. They also went 11-for-12 from the free throw stripe. Defensively, they held the Grizzlies to just 42.1 percent shooting, while getting three steals and three blocked shots.
All of that allowed the Nets to rally from a nine-point deficit in the fourth.
“It was good execution down the stretch,” Johnson said.