Shaun Livingston had one of the best games of his NBA career in Friday night's double-overtime victory, with 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting, a career-high 11 rebounds, five assists, three blocks, and a steal in a career-high 51 minutes.
Brooklyn impressively held the Heat to under 100 points, despite a 32-point Miami first quarter, thanks to some stifling defense that held the Heat to 13 points in the second quarter, and just six points combined over the 10 minutes of the two overtime periods.
After the game, Paul Pierce talked about how the Nets are gaining confidence with their improved all-around play, hopefully leaving their early-season struggles behind.
[sny-box]"That was our New Year's resolution, to find a way to turn this around. Each and every game we're gaining confidence, with the games we're playing and the teams we're beating. [...] We're able to communicate a lot better than we did earlier in the season. Our rotations are there, we're talking. It's fun when everybody's on the same page. The trust is finally there on defense."[/sny-box]
What a game, what a homestand, what a week, what a year so far for these Brooklyn Nets. It was extremely impressive to see the Nets absolutely put the clamps on Miami's offense for most of the final 46 minutes of the game, save for one brief run-in with "angry LeBron James" in the fourth.
The Heat are the only team in the NBA that makes more than half of their shots from the field, and the Nets held them to 42.5% shooting on Friday (36.5% after the first quarter) to drop their league-leading team field goal percentage to 50.9% overall.
After shooting 5-of-6 (83.3%) in the first quarter, the Nets held James to 7-of-15 (46.7%) shooting over the final 46 minutes. Livingston, Alan Anderson, Andrei Kirilenko and others did a nice job keeping him in check, by his standards, at least.
The Nets are still only 15-21 overall this season, and they're not quite where they want to be just yet. But there's no doubt that they are playing great basketball over the course of this winning streak, and they've done it against some of the NBA's best. It might be too early to say the Nets are "back," but things are definitely trending up.