The Skinny: The Nets started the game with two missed free throws, a turnover and a missed layup before they went to Brook Lopez, who hit his next four shots to put the Nets ahead 13-8 midway through the first. A 10-0 Nets run prompted two quick timeouts by an angry Byron Scott, and the Nets led 25-13. The Nets dominated the paint with 14 points in the quarter. The Cavs looked lethargic and were outrebounded by the Nets 14-4 in the first while Lopez ended the quarter with 15 points and four rebounds to help the Nets take a 34-24 lead after one.
The second started with a 3-pointer by Andray Blatche to extend the lead to 37-24. CJ Miles carried the Cavs early on. He hit seven of his first eight shots off the bench with four of those being 3-pointers. The production from the Bench Mob was back in the second with Jerry Stackhouse, CJ Watson and Blatche keeping the Cavs at bay. Those three combined to score 10 of the next 27 second quarter points. MarShon Brooks has looked revitalized since the coaching change and was aggressive when he entered the game. He scored four quick points, including a driving dunk in his seven second quarter minutes. For the Cavs, Miles ended the half with a solid 22 points on 8-for-10 from the field while Lopez continued his dominance for the Nets. He scored six points in the second to end the half with 21 points and six rebounds. The Nets led 61-53 at half.
The Nets pushed the lead to 13 with a 9-to-4 burst to start the third led by Deron Williams and Joe Johnson's outside shooting. Tyler Zeller and Alonzo Gee scored 8 points for the Cavs in a back and third quarter. Williams had six points in the quarter. The Nets shot 6-for-16 in the third and the Cavs didnt do much better at 8-for-23. Irving started to come alive late in the third and scored six points to bring the Cavs to within 79-74 to end the third.
The fourth started with a 4-0 Cavs run to bring them within one point, 79-78. The Cavs turned the ball over fives times in a five minute stretch and the Nets took advantage. The Nets responded with a 8--1 run led by Reggie Evans, who had five points. The Cavs hurt themselves with silly fouls and got into the penalty at the seven minute mark. From there, the Nets let the Cavs back into the game by missing seven of their next nine shots. Led by Irving down the stretch, the Cavs had opportunities. Irving made a tough three pointer late but missed a potential game-tying shot at the buzzer and the Nets held on.
Key Stats: The Nets shot 37 free throws to the Cavs 19.
Who Was Hot: CJ Miles had 22 first half points on 8-for-10 shooting and hit 5-for-6 from downtown. He continued to shoot well in the second half totaling 33 points for the game. Brook Lopez dominated for the Nets with 35 and 11 rebounds. His 35 points is a team season high.
Who Was Not: Kyrie Irving was held to four points at half on 2-for-8 shooting but did have five assists. He came alive in the second half for a bit but ended up with just 13 points and seven assists in a fairly poor showing.
Fun Fact: With the win, the Nets have now won two consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 12 and Dec. 14, when they beat the Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons, respectively.
The Nets should have had this game put away long before the fourth quarter but they allowed Cleveland to hang around long enough to make it very interesting. The Cavs pulled within one early in the fourth quarter but Kyrie Irving could not get started at all to help get the Cavs over the hump.
The Nets had a great opportunity to make this a second straight blowout and rest their starters, but they couldn't capitalize on enough opportunities.
With the win, the Nets are 2-0 under P.J. Carlesimo and will now travel to San Antonio to battle the Spurs on Dec. 31.