The beginning of last night's Nets-Lakers game made it seem like Brooklyn would get washed totally out of the drama. With the crowd fizzing and popping over Mike D'Antoni's debut (nice new haircut, buddy!), Los Angeles reeled off a 10-0 run in frenzied, D'Antoni-ball fashion, seemingly driving the whole arena into a state of delirium after just minutes of play.
Brooklyn could have folded right then and there, overcome by the swelling emotion of the opposition, but that doesn't appear to be their style. Deron Williams won't have that. Gerald Wallace absolutely won't have that. Brook Lopez doesn't even notice stuff like that. The Nets confidently erased that deficit behind Lopez's brilliant manipulation and Williams's ruthless dismantling of Darius Morris, then battled the rest of the way, even once their shots stopped falling.
And those shots did stop falling. Williams and Joe Johnson (who felt a bit absent all evening) went cold from the perimeter in the second half, right up through Williams's deep, off-balance attempt out of a timeout that could have tied the game in the final seconds. Even still, give the Nets a few of those close calls, tighten the rim a millimeter, and maybe encourage Avery Johnson to either abandon his hack-a–Dwight Howard strategy or stick with it down the stretch, and this one could have been the Nets'. (And regarding that strategy: To me, if you're gonna do it, do it. Giving a couple fouls with a few minutes remaining, then backing off that tactic in crunch time seems odd. Several of Johnson's clock and foul management choices in recent games have been puzzling).
There are, as they say, no moral victories, but the Nets shan't feel ashamed after that one, right? No time to feel ashamed, anyway. They finish their road trip tonight against Golden State, then fly home for a tough, if perhaps turkey-leaden, game against the monstrous Clippers. A new opportunity to build a new, even more impressive streak, eh?