Pierce Helps Nets Maul 'Cats
By Jason Schott
Paul Pierce had a vintage performance on Wednesday night at Barclays Center as the Nets blew out the Charlotte Bobcats 105-89. Pierce led the Nets with 25 points on 9-for-11 shooting, with a perfect 5-5 behind the arc, 2 assists, and 4 rebounds.
The Nets held a 50-44 lead at halftime before pulling away in the third quarter. Pierce was a big reason why, as he had 14 points on a perfect 5-5 (2-2 on 3-pt) in the third, as the Nets outscored Charlotte 35-19 and led 85-63 when it was over.
Pierce said of the third quarter, "It was our defense, we rebounded the ball, we caused turnovers and we limited Al Jefferson, who's been such a great force on defense. Once we did that, we fed off our defense and got out on the break. We made the extra pass, and it's beautiful when we play like that."
Kevin Garnett also had a big night, with 10 points (5-9 FG) and 3 rebounds in just 14 minutes. KG, along with Andray Blatche, was a big part of why the Nets held Al Jefferson to 13 points, and just two after the first quarter. Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd said of the job they did on Jefferson, "The guys executed the game plan. We wanted to double-team him a little bit early to not let him get in a rhythm. Also, we wanted to protect KG if it was going to be one of those nights where we needed him late in the game. The guys executed the game plan, double-teaming him and being able to understand how to get out of that rotation. Al has been playing at a high level, so for him to have 13 points tonight, that's a great job for those guys."
Kidd said of Garnett and Pierce's role in this Nets resurgence, "They're the glue of this team. When you look at their careers, they've been through a lot and seen a lot -- slow starts, fast starts, there's never any panic and you can see that in their play. Sometimes veteran guys take a little bit longer to get to the starting line but the guys are playing at a high level and you can see that with Paul and KG."
Kidd did not say whether Garnett would play on Thursday night in Chicago. I would have rested Garnett in this one and made it a certainty he would face off against Joakim Noah and the Bulls. With the All-Star Break coming, it seems that Garnett can play both ends of this back-to-back and help the Nets enter the break one game under .500.
On the importance of Thursday night's game in Chicago, Kidd said, "Chicago is playing extremely well. They're well-coached. This is a quick turnaround and this is a chance for us to get better in back-to-back games. A lot of guys, for the most part, didn't play a lot of minutes, so we'll see what happens tomorrow."