Back during the dark days of November and December, there were plenty of people who wondered whether the Nets would ever be able to turn things around this season — including some of the Nets themselves. But three months after their season appeared to be spiraling toward disaster, the Nets completed their remarkable 2014 turnaround Tuesday night with a 105-96 victory over the Rockets at Barclays Center, clinching a playoff berth for the second consecutive year — with nine games to spare. “Honestly, I couldn’t even see it [happening],” Joe Johnson said after scoring a game-high 32 points to secure the playoff-clinching win for the Nets (40-33). “I kept saying to myself, ‘Eventually, it’s going to turn around. Things are going to turn around for us.’ “Eventually, they did.” It did for a variety of reasons, beginning with the changes the Nets made Jan. 2 in Oklahoma City — just under two weeks after the team’s best player, Brook Lopez, was lost for the season with a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot. In the wake of Lopez’s injury, Nets coach Jason Kidd chose to switch to a smallball lineup by inserting Shaun Livingston into the backcourt next to Deron Williams and sliding Joe Johnson to small forward, Paul Pierce to power forward and Kevin Garnett to center after the Nets were embarrassed by the Spurs in San Antonio on New Year’s Eve to fall to 10-21. But once Kidd made that switch, the Nets have taken off. Since then, they’ve gone 30-12 — the best record in the Eastern Conference over that span — including a 20-2 mark at Barclays Center, with Tuesday’s win setting a franchise record of 14 straight home victories. In the meantime, the Nets have proven Kidd’s faith in them correct, as he has picked up a pair of Eastern Conference Coach of the Month Awards — one for January and another for March, when the Nets went 12-4. “I’ve seen too many games,” Kidd said when asked if he ever wondered if things would turn around. “The league is very fragile … things change quickly.
Nets clinch playoffs with 105-96 defeat of Rockets
New York Post | Apr 2