The Nets had a three-pronged plan last summer.
They wanted to lock up Deron Williams to a max contract, add a high-caliber talent to play alongside Williams and — barring a trade for Dwight Howard — lock up Brook Lopez.
Last night, those elements all came together.
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The Nets routed the Cavaliers, 114-101, Tuesday night at the Barclays Center in a game that was not as close as the final scored indicated. The Nets improved to 4-2, while Cleveland fell to 2-6.
“[There were] a lot of positives tonight,” head coach Avery Johnson said.
Deron Williams (26) and Joe Johnson (25) combined for 51 points. Brook Lopez had 23 points, seven rebounds and four blocks. Kris Humphries chipped in with 12 points and five rebounds.
The Nets ended the competitive portion of the evening in the second quarter. The Nets outscored Cleveland, 35-12, in the second, led by the second unit.
Trailing 30-29 after the first quarter, Avery Johnson elected to have the reserves start the second. They responded with a 19-4 run spanning nearly seven minutes. At the half, the Nets had a 64-42 lead — the third straight home game in which the Nets had a 20-point lead in the game.
The key to the run was Andray Blatche. Blatche had eight points, five rebounds and two blocked shots in the quarter. He finished with 11 points, five rebounds and three blocks.
“You saw the energy Reggie [Evans] and Blatche [brought] to our interior defense,” Avery Johnson said. “When those guys were out, there weren’t many points in the paint and they played well against the pick and roll. We are working with Humphries and Lopez to watch them and see how they work defensively on the floor. If they start performing like that, we can have four guys playing well defensively.”
Before the game, Avery Johnson said that the Nets were a work in progress. Despite the relatively easy win, there were teaching points he will emphasize to his team before the Celtics come calling Thursday night.
Avery Johnson was emphatic that the Nets had to keep Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao in check. Irving set a career high with 34 points, with 26 coming in the second half, while Varejao set a career high in points with 35, and grabbed 18 rebounds. Waiters finished with eight points and Thompson had 14. He was also disappointed the Nets’ 22-point halftime advantage was shaved down to 10 points, 85-75, at the start of the fourth quarter.
“We just wanted to stick together. Basketball is a game of runs and they’re obviously going to make theirs. They have some very talented players, especially in Irving, so you know he’s going to get some buckets,” Lopez said.
Enter Joe Johnson, who scored 16 points in the final quarter on 5-of-8 shooting, including making 3-of-6 3-point attempts.
“We just wanted to focus in a little more and executive offensively,” Joe Johnson said in an on-court interview. “I just got some good looks and we got into transition. I shot a couple threes in transition, which got me in to a little rhythm. Guys were finding me and I was just trying to take my time with my shot.”
Follow Nets beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.