NEW YORK (Sporting Alert) Deron Williams and the Brooklyn Nets want to make amends for their sloppy run in recent games and taking winnable games is a clear sign things a moving in the right direction.
Brook Lopez scored a season-best 35 points, including 15 in the first quarter and grabbed 11 rebounds and the Nets picked up a 103-100 over the Cleveland Cavaliers to score its second successive victory under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo.
But the real test will certainly come ahead of the New Year celebrations against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday and the clash on Wednesday in Oklahoma City.
The Nets fired coach Avery Johnson this past Thursday after a run of poor results, which saw the league’s big spenders winning just three of its last 13 games before he was sack.
Many blamed the top players, and especially leading star point guard Deron Williams for not working hard enough to help win games for Johnson when he was under pressure.
Williams has since come out to take responsibility for the team’s slump and has vowed to change things around.
With Phil Jackson reportedly scouting the team, Williams scored 19 points in the win over the Bobcats on Friday and then followed up that performance with 15 points and seven assists in the win over Cavaliers Saturday to build a momentum heading into the more difficult schedule next week.
Joe Johnson finished with 15 points, while the hard working Reggie Evans pulled down 10 rebounds and chipped in with seven points for the Nets (16-14), which shot 46 percent from the field.
“This can start something, so for us to get these two wins, we’ve got a little confidence going on the road, and we’ll ride this confidence into San Antonio and try to get us another win,” Johnson said.
C.J. Miles poured in 33 pointed to lead Cleveland (7-25) and Tristan Thompson collected 17 points and 15 boards in the defeat.
“We’re playing hard. It’s just growing pains and learning how to play,” Miles said. “That first quarter really didn’t help the cause.
“We got off to that slow start. We played that way probably a couple of minutes into the second (quarter) and throughout the whole game.”
Kyrie Irving added 13 points and seven assists, but failed to hit the last second shot, one he and his coach Byron Scott thought was going in.
“That was a good look. He just hit one prior to that, had pretty much the same spot,” Scott said. “It was a pretty good look.
“When it left his hand I thought it was going to be pretty close. But yeah, that’s the shot we wanted.”
Tyler Zeller had 12 points and seven rebounds before he was fouled out and Alonzo Gee had 10 points for Cavaliers, who again were without forward Anderson Varejao for the sixth successive game because of a right knee injury.