When Brook Lopez was lost for the season on Dec. 20 with the latest fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot, it appeared a season the Nets had, only a couple of months earlier, anticipated with so much optimism was on the edge of chaos. The Nets were 9-17 at that time — and were 10-21 a week-and-a-half later after being blown out in San Antonio on New Year’s Eve. But after that loss, coach Jason Kidd switched to a smallball lineup, inserting Shaun Livingston at shooting guard while pushing Joe Johnson to small forward, Paul Pierce to power forward and Kevin Garnett to center. Since then, the Nets (36-31) have taken off. They are 26-10 in 2014 after beating the Celtics 114-98 Friday night in Brooklyn — their 11th straight win at Barclays Center — and have found the team identity they have been searching for since moving to Brooklyn. “The biggest [difference], I think, is with Jason,” general manager Billy King said before the game. “Now we have a system of how we’re going to play, an identity. So now, in putting a team together, I know which players to add to it. “That’s something we’ve been searching for a while, is getting an identity. So now, going into the offseason, Jason and I are already talking about the type of players he wants and I have a good feel for it. But that’s the key. … We have a system.” When the Nets hired Kidd to be their 18th head coach last June, King said in the release announcing the decision Kidd, “embodies the tough, smart and team-first mentality that we are trying to establish in Brooklyn.” It took a couple of months longer than anyone expected for the Nets to right the ship, but the first-year coach seems to have done just that. “It’s those guys in that locker room,” Kidd said afterward. “As a group, we trust each other from top to bottom. From Billy, from our owner, all the way down to our ball boys. “Things didn’t start off the way we wanted, but it’s a marathon. It’s not who starts the race in first, it’s who finishes first. Guys understand what we are trying to do defensively and offensively, and it’s fun to watch right now.” Everything the Nets have become was on display Friday night against the Celtics. The Nets shot 56.4 percent from the field while finishing with 30 assists in 44 made baskets. At the other end, they held the Celtics (23-47) to 42.2 percent shooting and 33.3 percent (9-for-27) from 3-point range, continuing their impressive defensive performance while Garnett has been out for the past 11 games with back spasms. He will remain sidelined for the team’s upcoming three-game road trip that begins Sunday in Dallas. King met with the media Friday to update Lopez’s recovery status following the surgery to fix his right foot in early January. He said Lopez is healing well and still on track to return to on-court work in June after meeting with doctors. He also announced Lopez had surgery on his left ankle earlier this month to both tighten the lateral ankle ligaments and repair a torn tendon after he sprained the ankle twice earlier this season. While both Lopez and Garnett have been out, Mason Plumlee has filled in admirably. He continued his impressive rookie campaign against Boston by finishing with 18 points, five rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes. Plumlee trailed only Joe Johnson — who had 27 points, including 16 in the third quarter — in scoring in a game in which the Nets sat all of their starters for the entire fourth quarter.
Nets stomp Boston for 11th straight home win
New York Post | Mar 22