The Brooklyn Nets received a much needed performance from Joe Johnson as they defeated the Atlanta Hawks 91-86 at the Barclay's Center on Monday night. Johnson was game's leading scorer with 23 points.
Johnson had been going through a major struggle as he hadn't scored ten or more points in five straight games. As Deron Williams was ruled out of Monday's contest due to swelling in his ankle, Johnson came through with 23 points and four assists. He still struggled a bit with his shot as finished just 10 of 22 from the floor, but Johnson remained aggressive and assertive throughout the game, something he has not done recently.
"Jason told me I was going to have to pick it up," said Johnson in the post-game.
As Paul Pierce struggled from the floor and Kevin Garnett continued to have a difficult time finding his part in the team's offense, the Nets received sparks from a few of their role players. Shaun Livingston, who has recently been in and out of the starting lineup, scored 12 points on six of 11 shooting from the floor and also pulled down five rebounds. Alan Anderson, starting in place of Williams, finished with 14 points and five rebounds despite struggling from the field. Andrei Kirilenko was aggressive around the basket and finished with eight points but attempted 10 free throws, dished out four assists and grabbed three rebounds. Garnett was able to get 10 rebounds.
Maybe the biggest spark was the play of reserve forward Mirza Teletovic. Teletovic scored 16 points and made four three-pointers. With time winding down in fourth quarter and the Nets leading 86-84, Johnson threw a cross court pass to find Teletovic for a three that essentially sealed the victory for the Nets.
As for Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks, his team struggled shooting the ball and with turnovers. Jeff Teague scored 16 points and had five assists but turned the ball over seven times and shot just five of 15 from the field. Paul Millsap also had 16 points and five assists but shot just four of 12 from the field and had four turnovers. Kyle Korver had seven rebounds and six assists but struggled to find his shot, making just one of his five attempts and scoring just seven points.
For Jason Kidd and the Brooklyn Nets this was a much needed victory as they are now set to face the Golden State Warriors and the Miami Heat in their next two games. Williams is expected to be a game-time decision when the Nets face the Warriors on Wednesday night at the Barclay's Center. The win pushes the Nets current win streak to three games which started just as the new year began.
"We're going to have our hands full," said Kidd. "But we've got to come with the same effort we have since 2014 started."
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