Brooklyn's 98-88 win over the Washington Wizards showed how they're going to contend in the Eastern Conference this season: by scoring points in the paint, getting out on the fast break and utilizing its outside shooters.
Playing at the Barclays Center for the first time ever, the Nets' new-look back court of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson combined for 25 points, 14 assists and one steal in the 10-point win while the squad as a whole shot a solid 50-percent from the field.
Following the dominant win over the Wizards, here are the top three performers from Monday night's game.
Five-year man C.J. Watson, who will serve as Deron Williams' backup point guard, had a solid outing on Monday night.
The 28-year-old netted nine points off the bench, adding two rebounds, two assists and two steals in 27 minutes.
Watson showed great chemistry with Andray Blatche and Brook Lopez in the paint and finished the night with a plus-16 rating.
Here's what Asbury Park Press reporter Josh Newman had to say about Watson:
We'll have a story at some point today on C.J. Watson, who is looking like an absurd bargain so far as Deron Williams' backup point guard.— Josh Newman™ (@Joshua_Newman) October 16, 2012
Watson is a career 7.8 PPG guy who will give the Nets a nice change of pace from Williams when he needs a rest.
Nets' starting center Brook Lopez looked like a well-established center on Monday night against Emeka Okafor.
Lopez scored a team-high 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting and grabbed 11 boards (three on the offensive side) in 25 minutes worth of action against Washington.
If Monday night was any evidence of how Lopez is going to play in his new setting, Brooklyn is in for a real treat. Lopez blended well with Williams and Johnson and showed that he can rebound on both sides of the floor.
Lopez made headlines last week when Shaquille O'Neal—in his ongoing beef with Dwight Howard—proclaimed that Lopez was a better big man than Howard. While that's obviously not true, Lopez very well may assert himself as a top-five center this season.
With Lopez playing well and Johnson and Williams clicking in the back court, Brooklyn definitely jumps into the conversation as a contender in the East.
Andray Blatche looked like a completely different player against his old team.
Known for his lackadaisical approach in Washington, Blatche played with a spark of energy on Monday night. Whether it was because he was trying to prove his old team wrong or because he's actually committed to the Brooklyn movement, the big man looked inspired against the Wizards.
The 6'11" Blatche recorded 16 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block against his former team and was a monster on the offensive glass.
APP's Josh Newman seems to like Blatche's effort with the Nets thus far, tweeting:
Based on these first two games, one would assume Blatche will be battling C.J. Watson for biggest steal on this roster. Both have been great— Josh Newman™ (@Joshua_Newman) October 16, 2012
While it's still to be determined if Blatche can keep this effort up through a full 82-game season, things are looking pretty bright in Brooklyn right now.
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