The Least You Should Know
[sny-box]The Nets did an admirable job battling to the very end, even with five players out of the lineup, including four starters. The "replace-Nets" showed toughness and heart, giving L.A. everything they had.
Getting the start in place of Deron Williams, Shaun Livingston did an excellent job defensively on MVP candidate Chris Paul, holding the star point guard to 12 points on 3-of-12 shooting. Paul had just one field goal until late in the fourth quarter, but he clutched up when his team needed him most.
Alan Anderson had the hot hand from downtown in his first start of the season, going 4-of-7 from behind the arc for 15 points in 32 minutes of action.
Getting the start at center, Andray Blatche was unconscious tonight, making a bunch of 20-footers and then some, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the third quarter. Blatche finished with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
Mason Plumlee continues to impress. In 27 minutes off the bench, the rookie contributed with 19 points, six rebounds, and a nifty fourth-quarter steal. He has firmly established himself as a viable option off the bench on any given night.
I can honestly say this may have been the strangest basketball game I've ever seen, in a highly entertaining way. With only 10 healthy bodies, many players had different roles and more responsibility than usual, and the Nets were able to give the Clippers a serious run for their money.
Anderson, Blatche, Livingston and Joe Johnson all played between 32-34 minutes, and they all scored in double figures. Plumlee was outstanding off the bench, as was Tyshawn Taylor, who added 13 points, four assists and three steals in 15 minutes.
Even in a losing effort, there was a lot to feel good about, and I absolutely believe the Nets can build on this going forward. The concern now is the health of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko.
But at least for one night, the Nets proved that even without five former All-Stars, they're still capable of playing solid defense with good energy against one of the NBA's best teams. This team rolls deep, from the cagey veterans to the up-and-coming youngsters. Even with a slow start, record-wise, this is going to be a formidable team come playoff time. This team is heading in the right direction.
The Nets head back home now and will be back in action Monday night, when they host the Portland Trail Blazers at the Barclays Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 pm.