Pierce keys narrow victory over Philadelphia at Barclays
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
With All-Star shooting guard Joe Johnson sidelined by right-knee tendinitis and the Nets' bench minus Andrei Kirilenko and Andray Blatche due to injury, Jason Kidd needed a significant boost from one of his other starters Monday night against visiting Philadelphia at the Barclays Center.
Future Hall of Famer Paul Pierce certainly provided one for the NBA’s reigning Coach of the Month.
"The Truth" poured in a game-high 25 points as the Nets ended a three-game losing streak with a 108-102 triumph over the 76ers before a crowd of 16,727 that included recently crowned Super Bowl championship-winning quarterback Russell Wilson.
Pierce, who has provided great leadership in the locker room and done everything asked of him by Kidd on the court, including coming off the bench when needed, went 5-of-9 from the floor. He also hit all 14 of his free throws as Brooklyn (21-25) overcame the loss of three key players from its lineup.
But rather than basking in the afterglow of his strong performance, Pierce took himself and his teammates to task for nearly squandering a late lead against Philadelphia, which mounted a furious fourth-quarter comeback before Mirza Teletovic's three-point play in the final minute settled matters.
"A win is a win, but we can't be happy with the way we closed the game," Pierce insisted as both he and Kevin Garnett continue to build a greater trust in the Nets' locker room while urging their teammates to approach each contest with the tenacity necessary to create a championship atmosphere on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.
Teletovic finished with 20 points, Deron Williams had 21 and backcourt mate Shaun Livingston, staring in place of Johnson, added 13 points, eight assists and seven steals as Brooklyn converted 25 Philadelphia turnovers into 30 points.
After putting up a Net career-high 33 points in last week's one-point loss to first-place Toronto, Pierce was limited to 10 points in a blowout defeat to Oklahoma City on Friday and managed 15 on 3-of-9 shooting during Saturday's setback in Indiana.
His performance Monday night against the Sixers, which also included three rebounds, two assists and one of the Nets' 15 steals, was vital in preventing Brooklyn from backsliding further back in the standings and losing most of the steam from its 10-3 run in January.
His words afterward, however, were even more important.
"We were up 19 points and let them back in the game a couple of times," Pierce huffed. "So if we play like that Thursday (against defending Western Conference champion San Antonio), we can't expect to walk away with a win."
Sometimes "The Truth" hurts. But it's also very necessary.
Nothing But Net: Garnett blocked five shots against Philadelphia, giving him 2,001 for his career. He became just the 18th player in NBA history to register at least 2,000 blocks. … The Nets are the first team in the league this season to collect at least 13 steals in three consecutive games, a streak they hope to extend Thursday against visiting San Antonio at the Barclays Center. … Jay-Z and Beyonce attended their first Nets game Thursday night and were seated next to Russell, who helped Seattle vanquish Denver, 43-8, in Sunday night’s Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium.