Nets approach long road trip with easy win against Bobcats
As Paul Pierce discussed the upcoming seven-game road trip that will keep the Nets away from home until March 3, he unintentionally slipped in a play on words on his nickname of “The Truth.”
“It’s going to be a tough road trip but this is that part of the season when you’re on the road like that, you’ve got to have a great sense of urgency,” Pierce said. “You got to know what’s coming on and you got to expect it to be tough. We haven’t been a great road team, so this is a moment of truth for us right now.”
The Nets reached that moment of truth by winning 14 of 19 games, including a 105-89 rout of the Bobcats Wednesday night in a matchup between the seventh and eighth place teams in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s a big trip,” Deron Williams said. “It’s a tough trip, especially being that we’re not going to be home. We’re going from vacation to right to the road so we’re going to be away from home for two and a half weeks.”
The lengthy road trip is created by the presence of the circus at Barclays Center. Getting five wins returns them from Milwaukee on March 2 over .500. If they can do that, they may move into the No. 6 spot, avoiding a first-round matchup with Indiana or Miami.
From an outsider’s perspective it didn’t seem plausible the Nets would be talking this way heading into the All-Star break. But even as negativity swirled around, they didn’t let go of the rope, figured out how to win and began to develop the chemistry they talked about having in the offseason and preseason.
“We’re getting there,” Pierce said. “We’ve gathered some momentum since the New Year. Guys feel comfortable in their roles. I think early in the year it was tougher for everyone to understand what they were supposed to do, what they were asked to do. I think a lot of that had to do with a lot of the injuries we had, so now we have the guys who are out there, who are healthy, understanding their role and it is making things a little more comfortable. And that’s why you see us playing well at this point.”
The Nets played well most of the night but the good basketball made its most prominent appearance in the third quarter, the same quarter that often doomed the team earlier this season. They expanded upon a six-point halftime lead (50-44) with a 35-point quarter that saw eight assists on 12 field goals.
Pierce spearheaded the dominance in the third quarter when the Nets shot 12-of-19. He scored 14 points while making 5-of-5 shots.
Pierce finished with 25 points and he punctuated his night with a top of the key 3-pointer with 3:38 remaining in the third for a 74-53 lead. Pierce, and moments later the rest of the starting five, then hit the the bench for some rest and relaxation in a blowout win.
“It’s a good win,” Pierce said. “But the key is try and gather some momentum before the All-Star break. Right now, once we get past the All-Star break, it’s the stretch run. We got 31 games left. It’s going to be a lot of positioning going on these last few weeks of the season and we got to gather some momentum.”
“I think we’re definitely aware of [the standings],” Williams added. “I think every guy is different. Some guys check every day. It’s kind of hard not to. We have the standings in our locker room but it’s important because we want to try and move up and get the third seed.”
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.