Pierce scores 18, Nets rebound in rout of Nuggets
The Associated Press
DENVER — The Brooklyn Nets didn’t take long to put their worst loss in more than 10 years behind them.
Paul Pierce scored 18 points and the Nets rebounded from a 44-point loss the night before by routing the slumping Denver Nuggets 112-89 on Thursday night.
“We looked fresh after the back-to-back,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “Normally, we don’t look fresh. The guys were getting stops and we were getting easy baskets. We were sharing the ball, multiple guys were touching the ball, it wasn’t one guy just taking it and shooting it. Guys were creating movement and there was a lot of trust offensively.”
Joe Johnson, Marcus Thornton, and Mason Plumlee each added 10 points for the Nets, who snapped a six-game losing streak in Denver. The Nets hadn’t won in the Mile High City since a 112-102 victory on Jan. 27, 2007.
Johnson said a stern talking to from Kidd in the wake of the team’s blowout loss in Portland made an impact.
“Jason is great,” Johnson said. “He chewed us out about last night, about giving a poor performance defensively and not moving the ball offensively. As you all see tonight, we had a different attitude.”
Randy Foye had 15 points to lead Denver, which has lost four in a row and nine of 10.
Brooklyn’s 7-foot center Jason Collins, the NBA’s first openly gay player appearing in his third game since being signed to a 10-day contract, was given a round of applause from the crowd when he entered the game for the first time with 8:02 left.
Collins, who finished with three points, met after the game with the family of Wyoming college student Matthew Shephard, who was tortured and murdered in 1998 because he was gay.
Collins wears his No. 98 jersey in Shepard’s honor, and he said during a pregame news conference that the chance to meet Dennis and Judy Shepard was “one of those cool treats in life.”
The Nets were coming off a 124-80 loss at Portland the night before, their biggest loss since a 47-point defeat to Memphis on Dec. 13, 2003. But they quickly put that behind them with a runaway win of their own in a game in which they never trailed.
Pierce scored 11 points in the third quarter, helping the Nets extend their lead to 38 points. Brooklyn took an 89-56 advantage into the fourth quarter and played reserves for most of the rest of the game.
The offensive struggles by Denver, which was without leading scorer Ty Lawson (left rib fracture) for an eighth consecutive game, were epitomized in the first quarter. The Nuggets were held to a season-low eight points on 3-for-18 shooting from the floor (16.7 percent) and trailed by as many 31 points in the second quarter before managing to get within 23 at the half.
It got bad enough for the Nuggets that the crowd, after seeing Timofey Mozgov and Kenneth Faried both miss dunks in the first quarter, cheered derisively when Mozgov hit a layup early in the second.
“I think I can speak for everybody in the locker room when I say to be part of something like tonight, it’s embarrassing,” Nuggets forward J.J. Hickson said. “We know exactly what we have to do to win and we’re just not doing it.”
The Nets took advantage of the Nuggets’ horrible start to pull out to 59-36 halftime lead.
Each of 10 Nets players seeing action to that point scored at least once. Denver ended up with as many turnovers in the first quarter as points.
NOTES: The Nuggets were also without F Wilson Chandler, who was held out of the game because of sore right knee. … The previous low for points in a quarter by the Nuggets was 12, against Oklahoma City on Jan. 9. … The Nets’ Shaun Livingston made his 33rd start of the year, the most in a season in his career. … Brooklyn improved to 4-10 in the second of back to back games. … Since the beginning of January, the Nets have gone 17-8, fourth-best among Eastern Conference teams in that stretch. … Denver, historically one of the teams with the strongest home-court advantage, fell to 14-15 at the Pepsi Center this season. … All 13 Nets playing in the game scored.
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