The New Jersey Nets hosted the NBA-leading San Antonio Spurs on Valentine’s Day at the Prudential Center in Newark in front of 13,433, and, for almost three quarters, the Nets were in the game, cutting the lead to 6 points, 72-66, on a short jumper by Brook Lopez, but he Spurs would go on a 21-4 run that spanned the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth, taking the largest lead of the game, 93-70, on a jumper by Gary Neal with 6:15 left in the fourth quarter to put the game away, going on for a 102-85 win.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was happy with his team’s effort. “I was pleased, I thought we focused the entire game. We didn’t take anybody lightly, we respected the Nets. We played with physicality and we played good defense throughout the game. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing or what any body’s record is. It’s your job and that’s how you form habits and get better. I thought Tony Parker and Tim Duncan carried us in the first half and Manu Ginobili carried us in the second half. The Nets played hard, they were on the floor and did everything they could do. We just had a few too many weapons.”
Tony Parker agreed with his coach. “It was a great team effort. Everybody was moving the ball, played very unselfish and great defense tonight. Ginobili echoed the same thoughts. “We played very hard and rotated very well.”
The Spurs had a balanced attack led by Ginobili with 22 points, while Tim Duncan scored 15, all in the first half, and grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked 3 shots. DeJuan Blair had 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Parker had 13 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds. George Hill and Gary Neal came off the bench to score 13 and 11, respectively.
Nets head coach Avery Johnson was highly complimentary of the Spurs. “This is a terrific team that we played. They have the best record in the league for a reason. They don’t beat themselves, they’re pros. They go about their business and they’re very methodical in their approach.” Harris also spoke highly of the Spurs. “They play well together. Defensively they’re pretty sound in their rotations. They do a pretty good job moving the ball playing with one another. They do a great job closing out quarters. They did it in the first, second, and third quarter to separate themselves to give themselves momentum going into the next quarter.”
The Nets were led by Brook Lopez, who scored 11 and pulled down 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. Travis Outlaw also scored 11, while Jordan Farmar scored 10 and dished out 7 assists off the bench. Harris added 10 as well.
The Nets travel to Boston to face the Celtics tomorrow at 7:30pm.