Brook Lopez, Devin Harris and the entire New Jersey Nets team played easily their best game of the season on Tuesday night when they beat the Atlanta Hawks 107-101 in overtime.
Lopez scored 32 points on 12-of-19 shooting and also pulled down nine rebounds. He showed the aggression coach Avery Johnson has been looking for on the offensive end, as evidenced by his 10 free throw attempts.
Not to be outdone, Harris went 9-for-17 and 3-of-7 on threes to score 27 and dish out nine assists.
Johnson also wanted more out of Harris after the Nets' recent road trip in terms of on-court leadership. The point guard was much more vocal on the floor against Atlanta, pointing out defensive assignments and generally ensuring his teammates kept the intensity up.
He also took a huge charge from the big-bodied Josh Smith with about 22 seconds left in overtime--- a play that effectively ended the game.
New Jersey played a very solid game overall, never once trailing. The effort on the defensive end was particularly impressive.
The Hawks came into the game averaging 99 points per game on 48.2 percent shooting. The Nets held the team to 46 percent from the field and it took until late in overtime for Atlanta to reach its season average in scoring.
A huge factor in the win was the Nets ability to keep Atlanta off the free throw line--- an area New Jersey has struggled in lately. Last week, New Jersey's opponents attempted more free throws than the Nets made.
Tuesday night, though, the Hawks had just 13 free throw attempts compared to the Nets' 33, a drastic improvement.
Whether they can continue to do that remains to be seen.
The Nets can still stand to improve their defensive rebounding as Atlanta was able to grab 13 offensive boards, but that was really the only glaring deficiency in this game.
New Jersey also had only 10 turnovers in the game--- an improvement over their recent play--- and were at 48 percent shooting.
Other notables for the Nets include Kris Humphries, who notched a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds, and Anthony Morrow who scored 13.
Morrow hit a three late in the game that moved him into second place on the all-time three-point shooting percentage list behind Steve Kerr.
Atlanta got good scoring games from Jamal Crawford (21), Smith (20), Joe Johnson (16) and Al Horford (14), although Smith and Johnson did not hit a high percentage of their shots, going 15-of-39 combined.
Why Smith likes to hang out on the perimeter and shoot threes is something Atlanta fans must be asking themselves. He's such a gifted athlete, and has a solid mid-range game, but he makes it easy on opponents when he settles.
It's particularly strange considering he made a concerted effort last season to avoid bailing opposing teams out by shooting threes and other long shots.
However, that's something for the Atlanta coaching staff to figure out.
The Hawks have been struggling recently and, as always, there are improvements that can be made, but the Nets should feel good about this win over a quality opponent. They've made a habit recently of hanging in games until the final minutes, only to fall short, so it was nice to see them pull one out in overtime.
They will now head to Boston to take on the Celtics Wednesday night, where they may have the fortune of not having to deal with Rajon Rondo.