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Nets exploit match-up against Suns

Sometimes slow and steady wins the race.

Shaun Livingston and the Nets elevated over the Phoenix Suns in a lopsided win Monday night at the Barclays Center.
USA Today Sports

The Nets flipped the tables on the high-flying Phoenix Suns in a 108-95 win, limiting them to just 11 fastbreak points. Deron Williams recaptured his pre-injury form, accounting for 28 points on 11-for-13 shooting.

The Suns entered the Barclays Center utilizing a similarly small lineup, but the pace made all the difference. Where the Nets prefer a methodical, isolation offense, the Suns prefer to run opponents out of the gym.

Jason Kidd’s team used its length to clog the passing lanes and make life difficult for the Suns, who played in Toronto Sunday night. The Suns operated in second-gear for most of the night and the Nets punished them down low. The Nets’ offense accounted for 52 points in the paint, 44 of which came in the first half.

“On offense, there were multiple touches tonight and defensively, paying attention to the details and trying to take away the three,” Kidd said. “I thought that one of the things we did tonight that showed a lot of growth from the last game was we had a lead and we kept it. Phoenix kept making runs but we responded.”

Neither the Nets nor Suns offer much resistance in a big-bruising center. The Nets exploited the Suns’ interior deficiencies.

“It’s just the game-plan,” Williams said. “They’re 29th in the league in points allowed in the paint, so we tried to take advantage of that. They don’t have a lot of shot blockers in there, so we were just aggressive going to the basket.”

Both teams opt to play small, but the Nets’ quality outlasted the Suns’ quantity. Although working under coach of the year candidate Jeff Hornacek, the Suns’ offense strongly mimics Mike D’Antoni’s seven seconds or less style.

The Suns needed a few more seconds against the Nets.

“We didn’t do much of anything,” Hornacek said. “I thought we had terrible effort tonight. We can’t come out and just show up, especially against a good Brooklyn team. ... They’ve been playing great; It should’ve been a big game to get hyped up for.”

The Nets swept the Suns with their win Monday night. The small style plays to the Nets’ advantage, which explains the 3-0 record against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. The same can be said in reference to the Nets’ curious 0-3 record against the oversized Detroit Pistons.

Despite their struggles, the Indiana Pacers pose more of a problem for the Nets than the Heat. The Nets’ size matches up well against the reigning champs, while Roy Hibbert and David West will give them headaches. The Nets have already fallen to the Pacers three times this season.

The Nets will live with this lineup for at least the next week. Prior to the game, Kidd ruled Garnett out for three games. The training staff will then re-evaluate him.

The Nets will host the Charlotte Bobcats Wednesday night. The Bobcats currently occupy the seventh playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Going Green on St. Patrick’s Day

While the Nets collectively stopped the Suns, former Billy King reclamation project Gerald Green dazzled the 17,401 fans in attendance. Known most for his dunking when King initially signed him to a 10-day contract back in 2011-12, Green displayed his improved repertoire.

In the second quarter, Green soared over center Mason Plumlee for a two-handed, double-clutch dunk. The Nets struggled to stop Green, but they handled the rest of the suns.

Green, who has cast his name into the Most Improved Player of the Year race, finished with 17 points. Green returned to the bench when guard Eric Bledsoe came back from injury.

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