Johnson helps Nets win third straight
By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK — If only the Brooklyn Nets could get a mulligan on that 2013 part of the 2013-14 season.
They are perfect in the new year, looking more like the team that was the heavy Atlantic Division favorite than the one that was 10-21 through December.
“We’re undefeated this year,” swingman Alan Anderson said. “So as long as we just keep that rolling, man, we know we’ve got a couple of tough games ahead of us, but like I said, take it one game at a time, one practice at a time, and keep building.”
Joe Johnson snapped out of a slump with 23 points against his former team, and the Nets matched a season high with their third straight victory by beating the Atlanta Hawks 91-86 on Monday night.
Mirza Teletovic scored 16 points and Anderson added 14 starting in place of the injured Deron Williams as the Nets moved to 2-0 on four-game homestand that finishes with visits from Golden State on Wednesday and Miami on Friday.
Despite yet another injury to a key player, the Nets look ready to test themselves against those powerful teams after matching their three consecutive victories from Dec. 7-12.
“We’re going to have our hands full, but we’ve got to come with the same effort that we have since 2014 started,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said.
Paul Millsap scored 16 points for the Hawks, who lost their third in a row to equal their worst stretch of the season. Jeff Teague also had 16 but shot 5 of 15 from the field.
“We felt like we could (get over the hump) and a few things didn’t go our way,” Millsap said. “But still we fought to the end. At the end of the day, we’ve just got to work on our fundamentals.”
Williams missed his 12th game this season after his ankle swelled Sunday. He will be re-evaluated today.
But the Nets got solid guard play from Shaun Livingston, who scored 12. And they got clutch play from Johnson, who had been held in single digits in five straight games for the first time in 11 years — though he did hit the winning shot in one of those, a victory at Oklahoma City on Thursday that started the win streak.
“Jason told me I was going to have to pick it up,” Johnson said. “And he told me in the fourth quarter when I came back in that he wanted me to be very assertive and make plays and kind of take over the game, which is what I tried to do.”
He finished 10 of 22, making the go-ahead 3-pointer with 6:21 remaining.
The Hawks rebounded from a dreadful start to the second half to grab a 78-77 lead on DeMarre Carroll’s dunk with 6:38 left in the game. Johnson answered with a 3-pointer on the next possession, Livingston had a steal and dunk, and Johnson nailed another jumper to cap the run of seven straight points and make it 84-78 with 3:37 to go.
Johnson, traded to the Nets in the summer of 2012, made another jumper with 2:12 left, then made a huge play after Atlanta had trimmed it to two, finding Teletovic in the corner for a 3-pointer and 89-84 lead with 44 seconds remaining.
The teams meet again on Jan. 16 in London in what’s considered a home game for the Hawks.
Kyle Korver needed little time to extend his NBA-record streak with a 3-pointer to 104 games, hitting with 9:11 remaining in the first quarter.
The Hawks scored the final 11 points of the first half, capped by Millsap’s 3-pointer with 28 seconds left, to take a 52-46 advantage.
But the Nets stormed out with the first 14 of the third quarter. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer angrily knocked his clipboard onto the court while reaching for it after calling one timeout, then was hit with a technical foul on a subsequent possession after redirecting his rage from his players to the referees.
Anderson made a jumper and then consecutive 3-pointers to cap the spurt and make it 60-52. The Nets led 72-67 following three 3-pointers by Teletovic late in the third.
“I think the game really changed coming out of the third quarter,” Budenholzer said. “They went on a big run. We went from up six to down six. I think in a lot of ways that’s where the game was won.”
Notes: Because of Williams’ injury, the Nets recalled Tyshawn Taylor from Springfield of the NBA Development League, hours after they’d assigned him. He left Springfield early Monday afternoon and arrived at the arena shortly before 5 p.m. He did not play. … Singer Rihanna was at the game, seated next to the Nets’ bench.
TIMBERWOLVES 126, 76ers 95
PHILADELPHIA — Kevin Love scored 16 of his 26 points in a dominant third quarter and Nikola Pekovic had 16 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Timberwolves to a win over the 76ers.
Kevin Martin scored 18 points and Corey Brewer had 15 to help the Timberwolves move back to .500 (17-17). Minnesota made 16 of 26 3-pointers.
Thaddeus Young scored 20 points for the Sixers, who snapped a four-game winning streak. The Sixers had won the final four games of a six-game road trip.
The Timberwolves ended any threat of Philadelphia extending its streak in a hurry. They led by 16 at the half and Love hit a pair of 3s in the third to build a 31-point lead.
The Timberwolves had seven players score in double figures.
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