It has taken 59 games, five months, and 126 days for the Brooklyn Nets to reach this point in their season. For the first time this year, the Nets are over .500.
Even for a team that has had as many expectations as the Brooklyn Nets, Wednesday night was a defining moment for both the players and coaches of this franchise. It was the culmination of a long struggle back from a hideous start.
Go back to the December when this Nets team was 10-21. Everyone was calling for Jason Kidd to quit as head coach. He was in over his head, had just fired his old coach, and recent assistant Lawrence Frank, limiting him to "daily reports," and was struggling to get his compeers, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Deron Williams to buy into his system.
He had to deal with a roster of overpaid, and aging superstars; injuries, specifically to Williams, and Brook Lopez who was lost for the year, and a bench full of unknowns.
Well that bench is partly responsible for helping resurrect this Nets season, along with Joe Johnson, the lone consistently good superstar on this team. It was fitting in a way that it was Johnson and the Nets bench that starred for them against the Memphis Grizzlies, one of the Western Conference's better teams.
Johnson led the Nets with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including knocking down five three-pointers. Marcus Thorton, who was so good the other night in Milwaukee, had another big night with 20 points of his own. Even Williams and Pierce got into the action. Williams posted 16 points with seven assists, and Pierce contributed 14 points and eight boards.
It was an all around team effort for Brooklyn, who pulled away from Memphis in the third quarter, scoring 33 points to take an 87-60 lead, thanks to a barrage of three-pointers by Williams, Johnson and Thorton.
With the victory, the Nets have now won four in a row, and six in a row at home. At 30-29, this Nets are now 20-8 since January 1 when the turnaround began. For the first time this year, they look and feel like the team that a lot people predicted at the start of the year -- it just took awhile for them, and head coach Jason Kidd to adjust.
Now that Brooklyn is over .500, they have to keep pedal to the metal. With games against Boston, Sacramento and Toronto coming up, this is a great opportunity for the Nets to climb the standings, and with they way they are playing -- they look poised to grab this division from the Raptors and take the coveted three seed.