While there’s still plenty of hoopla surrounding Jason Collins, the Brooklyn Nets’ recent efforts have proven quite noteworthy, too.
Looking to climb over .500 for the first time this season, the Nets try to make it four wins in a row Wednesday night when they host the Memphis Grizzlies.
Brooklyn (29-29) came out with a stifling defensive display in Monday’s 96-80 win over Chicago, reaching the break-even mark for the first time since it was 2-2 on Nov. 5. The Nets tied an NBA season high with 19 steals, scoring 30 points off the Bulls’ season-high 28 turnovers.
"It’s good that we got the win," said coach Jason Kidd, whose team has allowed 89.0 points per game during the winning streak. "I’m a big believer when you play 82 games, you’re going to have a record, being .500 is for you guys to write about. For us, it’s to get better each time we take the floor."
Deron Williams led the way with 20 points while Joe Johnson added 19 as Brooklyn cruised to its ninth win in 13 games. Collins made a late appearance with the game out of reach, his first home contest since becoming the NBA’s first openly gay player Feb. 23.
"It was cool. It was a lot of fun to go into the game," Collins said. "The most important thing was that we got the win. Chicago’s been playing really well as of late and for us to come out and really be – I think we played more physical than they did."
Collins has scored just three points in five games, but the Nets are 4-1 since he joined the team. The team officially signed him to another 10-day contract Wednesday.
"Now that that’s all settled, I’ll go out there and just try to focus as much as I can on the game," Collins said.
The Nets will try to stay hot against the Grizzlies (34-25), who have won seven of nine after pulling out a 110-104 victory at Washington on Monday. Tayshaun Prince had a season-high 21 points and Mike Conley scored 20 as Memphis shot 54.4 percent, snapping the Wizards’ season-high six-game winning streak.
The Grizzlies, who opened a stretch of 12 of 17 on the road, have won 16 of 24 as the visiting team.
"For some reason, the chemistry is a lot better," Prince said of playing on the road. "We’re more concerned with not letting teams get up early on us, which is very surprising because when you’re at home you just say, ‘Let’s hit ’em in the nose in the first quarter then we should be in good shape.’ But we’re doing it the opposite way."
Memphis had taken three straight from the Nets, including back-to-back road meetings, before falling 97-88 on Nov. 30. Johnson and Andray Blatche scored a combined 47 points, helping Brooklyn overcome the absences of Williams and Paul Pierce.
The Grizzlies were without big men Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.
Brooklyn’s Kevin Garnett will miss a third straight game due to back spasms.
Williams is averaging 21.8 points over his last nine matchups against the Grizzlies dating to his days with Utah.
Memphis is averaging 108.8 points while shooting 52.1 percent over a four-game stretch. The Nets are 27-9 when allowing less than 103 points compared to 2-20 when they don’t.