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Undermanned Nets continue to thrive

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Someway, somehow, the Nets keep finding ways to win.

With Deron Williams dealing with recurrent ankle issues and Brook Lopez already out for the season, the ragtag Nets scrapped together one of their best efforts of the season against the red hot Golden State Warriors. The Nets withstood an early shooting barrage and carried the play en route to a 102-98 win. They snapped the Warriors’ 10-game winning streak in the process.

“Right off the bat they came out and had a 32-point quarter and normally, it would have gone the other way,” head coach Jason Kidd said. “But we stayed the course and in 2014, we have been doing that. The guys just kept playing.”

Joe Johnson finished with a game-high 27 points while Kevin Garnett and Shaun Livingston added 13 points apiece. Andray Blatche came off the bench to score 17 points.

The Nets won their fourth straight game heading into a litmus test Friday night when the defending-champion Miami Heat come to Barclays Center.

Kidd needed to get creative in order to play his desired unit down the stretch. He stashed Andrei Kirilenko and Garnett in the third quarter in order to keep them fresh for the closing run.

The strategy paid off for the rookie head coach.

“I pretty much knew with the minutes,” Kirilenko said. “I believe coach wanted to keep me late in the game.”

Garnett summoned the fountain of youth, knocking down four of his six jump shots and grabbing two steals. The one steal iced the game in the final seconds.

“I work on my craft every day so I expect it to be a certain way when I go to dial it up, I want her to pick the phone up,” Garnett said. “Tonight, I dialed and she was right there, answering, like she’s supposed to. Honestly, I work really hard on my craft. Tonight, I was able to get into a nice little groove and some shots fell.”

As Kidd said, a new year and a new team. The Nets added the Warriors to their 2014 belt, which already included wins over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Atlanta Hawks.

The Nets reversed their course from earlier in the season when lesser teams came into the Barclays Center and ran roughshod. The Nets have now won consecutive home games against playoff teams.

Although the Nets lost Williams and Lopez, they gained Kirilenko, who continues to spur the Nets on both ends of the floor. His contagious hustle plays translated into 12 steals and 10 offensive rebounds Wednesday night.

“I’m not the messiah,” Kirilenko joked. “Don’t look at me like that. I think there’s different factors combined together. ... I want [the energy] to be contagious. Our job coming from the bench is to bring the spark.”

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