Nets stave off elimination, force Game 6

 

In the postseason, especially in dire situations, someone else besides the stars often needs to deliver significant production. For the Nets in Game 5, that someone was backup center Andray Blatche.

Blatche scored 10 of his 13 points in fourth quarter and the Nets survived for another three days by pulling out a 110-91 victory over the Bulls Monday night.

“My main thing was I wanted to get the ball deep in the paint and just be aggressive,” Blatche said. “That’s kind of what I did. I stayed in attack mode.”

“He has done it throughout the season,” Brook Lopez said. “He is definitely capable of it and we are definitely going to need that performance again.”

Blatche finished with his most points in a playoff game and his third career double-digit postseason game. His biggest performance as a Net came despite struggling with calf pain.

“We didn’t want it to end,” Blatche said. “Nobody is ready to go home. We still feel like we have an opportunity to make it to the second round and we want to continue to fight to get to that round.”

Blatche also grabbed four of his five rebounds in the fourth quarter while helping a defensive effort which limited Chicago’s starting frontcourt of Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah to six points and three rebounds in the quarter.

“I thought he was doing a good job,” Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo said. “I just thought he was playing very well. The biggest thing was his shot selection was excellent. He didn’t settle for jump shots unless the clock was on his back. He took the ball to the basket. He was aggressive. I thought in the second half, he defended much better than he did in the first half. He was playing very, very well.”

Blatche played virtually the entire fourth quarter, helping the Nets expand on a nerve-racking 77-74 lead for their fans. He had played just 8:33 and taken two shots in the opening 36 minutes but early in the period, as Deron Williams was getting a rest for the stretch run, Blatche helped the Nets maintain their lead and ensured Brooklyn would have two days to prepare for Game 6 Thursday night in Chicago.

His first basket came after a floating jumper by Nate Robinson cut the lead to 79-78. It was the result of a nice hustle play, as Blatche seized Kris Humphries’ missed jumper and converted the layup for an 81-78 lead.

Blatche’s next basket came in transition after Gerald Wallace forced Taj Gibson into a turnover. Wallace found Blatche with a nice outlet pass and the big man converted a finger roll for an 83-78 lead.

After Luol Deng hit a step back jumper from the left elbow, Blatche grabbed another offensive rebound and converted a short jumper to make it 85-80. Blatche later converted two foul shots after getting flagrantly fouled by Marco Belinelli with 6:56 left and hit another jumper less than a minute later.

Blatche’s minutes came at the expense of Reggie Evans, who grabbed 12 rebounds in 24 minutes. When Blatche exited to a standing ovation with 55.2 seconds left and the Nets up by 15, Evans embraced him.

“I was happy as hell,” Evans said. “I’m not really concerned about his calf right now. I know he’s going to play and he ain’t going to let us down. He’s my boy and he came through in the clutch.

“That just shows the unity in this room. There ain’t no hating. There’s all love and there may be games where I’m going to finish the games out but for him to stay focused, he’s going through so much this year and to stay poised, I’m grateful for him to be ready and do what he did and [he was] right on time.”

The Nets were up 91-84 with six minutes to play, but that can be an eternity in the fourth quarter of an NBA playoff game. But unlike Saturday, they did not wilt, getting a few highlight plays to close the game out properly.

The final minutes were the biggest challenge but instead of rehashing the last fourth quarter they played, the tone during timeouts was business-like with a focus on making the plays that eluded them Saturday and in the other two losses.

“We didn’t want to say much,” Williams said. “After the last game, it was pretty evident what we needed to do and that was close the game out and I thought we did a great job of it.”

“[We were] not necessary angry but more aware, just basically focused on closing this game,” Blatche said. “We got up. We wanted to keep the lead and not make mental mistakes and close the game out and I think we did a great job of that.”

Wallace hit maybe the biggest two shots — a 3-pointer in front of Chicago’s bench with 2:18 left, followed by a steal of Robinson’s pass and a transition dunk to make it 103-91 with two minutes left.

Williams scored 12 of his 23 points in the third quarter, looking like the player who aggressively slashed to the basket in Game 1. Lopez struggled to get deep post position at times against Joakim Noah but still managed a 28-point game.

Robinson led the Bulls with 20 points but after getting 23 in the fourth quarter Saturday, he scored just four down the stretch Monday night.

Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Boston Strong: One year on from Boston Marathon…

  For more than a century the Boston Marathon has been an even centred around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there's no denying the face…

Local

Best nature spots for kids in New York…

When it comes to kids and nature, most U.S. parents agree: children should be spending more time outdoors. According to a recent survey by The…

Local

Easter 2014: The year's best bonnets

It's Easter, and that means it's time for Fifth Avenue to turn into a veritable catwalk of bonnet-wearers. The annual march, which kicks off at…

Local

Woman arrested for attempted kidnapping of baby in…

Authorities said that a Queens woman behind an attempted kidnapping of an 8-month-old baby boy was arrested on Saturday.

Television

‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

NHL

Rangers let chance at victory slip away in…

All the Rangers had to do was hold serve in a raucous Madison Square Garden — roaring in anticipation of putting a hated rival in a 2-0 series hole.

MLB

Yankees place Ivan Nova on DL with partially…

Yankees starter Ivan Nova was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL in his throwing elbow Sunday.

NHL

Rangers never thought opening round would be 'an…

You might have thought the Metropolitan Division semifinal series was going to be a rout after watching Game 1 Thursday night. The Rangers did not.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.