Kevin Garnett has had active fourth quarters before, but until Wednesday Nets fans had not really seen him be as involved down the stretch.
But as the Nets won their season-high fourth straight game, it was Garnett who did a bit of everything in the final 12 minutes as they held off the Warriors, 102-98.
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Garnett scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Nets win for the second time when trailing by as many as 16 points in a game.
“Offensively and defensively, he has been off the charts,” head coach Jason Kidd said. “Defensively, he has been incredible for us since that Oklahoma game. He looks like he’s 25 and tonight, offensively, he looked like he was 21.”
“Jay called some plays for me,” Garnett said. “I work on my craft every day so I expect it to be a certain way. When I got to dial it up, I want her to pick the phone up. Tonight I dialed and she was right there. I work really hard on my craft and tonight I was able to get into a nice groove and some shots fell.”
The first time Garnett dialed it up was on a layup on Brooklyn’s first possession after he screened off Stephen Curry and rolled to the basket in time for a 77-76 lead 11 seconds into the fourth quarter. Garnett was so excited he pumped his left fist and shouted an expletive.
The second time came at the 11:09 mark when he put the Nets ahead, 80-78, with a turnaround 14-footer from the left elbow. Nearly three minutes later, Garnett made an eight-foot turnaround over Draymond Green for an 84-82 lead.
Garnett’s final shot was a step-back 13-footer from the left side with 7:34 remaining, giving the Nets another two-point lead.
“K.G. has been in those moments time and time again,” Paul Pierce said. “Often we don’t use him in that way here, but he’s more than capable of taking control of the offense like he did there in the fourth.”
“That’s the K.G. we need – aggressive and physical, instant offense,” Andray Blatche said. “Take the shot. He’s going to make them. We all believe in him.”
Still Garnett’s four shots did not give the Nets separation and they fell behind 93-89 moments after Garnett took a seat as Klay Thompson hit a 3-pointer with 4:06 remaining. The Nets tied it with 2:40 remaining on a fadeaway by Blatche from near the baseline and then sank nine foul shots the rest of the way.
Garnett returned for the final minute with the Nets clinging to a 96-93 lead but they continued to get stops as part of a final 4:06 that saw Golden State miss six straight shots before Curry hit a 23-foot jumper with his right foot on the 3-point line with 5.8 seconds remaining.
That was the last shot Curry sank. Curry shot 8-of-18 after making his first three shots and also misfired on eight of 10 3-pointers while committing seven turnovers.
Garnett turned in his most productive night in terms of points since getting 16 against Portland on Nov. 18. But Garnett scored most of his points in the first quarter of that game and the Nets wound up losing by double digits.
“It felt good actually,” Garnett said. “I thought defensively we were sound. They came out, gave us a big blow in the first quarter. But I thought we kept our composure and then fought back. Going into 14, a new year, we said we obviously wanted to change this thing effort-wise and our performance. ... But tonight I thought the effort [was there]. We’re understanding more and more of what obviously Jason needs out of me and I’m trying to do the best job at that.”
The Nets allowed 30 points in the first quarter for the eighth time and it seemed like it might be a lost night after Harrison Barnes hit a 3-pointer with 1:43 remaining in the first for a 32-16 lead. But the Nets gradually chipped away as their defense recovered after allowing the Warriors to make 13 of their first 17 shots.
They took small bites by getting consecutive 3-pointers from Mirza Teletovic and Joe Johnson to end the first. Then they took a 59-52 lead on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Teletovic to end the first half before pushing the lead to 11 (67-56) midway through the third.
“I think right off the bat they had a 32-point quarter. Normally we could have gone the other way,” Kidd said. “We felt that we got some great looks that didn’t go down for us but we stayed the course and in 2014, we have been doing that.”
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.