EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Watch out, Orlando.
Just kidding, or since we’re on the web: LOL.
Dwight Howard and the Magic aren’t afraid of the suddenly big, bad Nets. But it will be interesting to see how those big, bad Nets follow up Saturday’s unexpected, head-shaking victory when they travel to Disney World to face one of the biggest and baddest men and teams in the East.
What you are about to read is not a misprint: the Nets beat the Denver Nuggets 114-70 Saturday night.
Yes, the same Nuggets’ group that is off to the best start in their NBA history and the same one that had lost just once to a sub-.500 team before last night.
It was sick what the Nets did to those very Nuggets. The 10-point lead went to 20 and then to 30 and then to 40.
Everyone kept waiting for Carmelo Anthony to hit a flurry of shots or Chauncey Billups to start burying some threes or some of their physical players like Kenyon Martin or J.R. Smith or Nene or Chris Andersen to commit a hard foul to stop the barrage.
Never happened and, as a result, the Nets had one of their most ridiculous results in their NBA history.
It would have been one thing had it come against the Wizards the other night when Washington had eight guys and none of them were named Caron Butler or Gilbert Arenas. But the Nuggets were healthy and rolling and were humbled and humiliated.
Sometimes you’re one step too slow,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “Tonight, we were two steps too slow.”
The disparities in effort, stats, hustle plays and teamwork were almost as bad as the point differential. Then again, that’s why the point differential was what it was.
Before we get to some of those numbers, try these on for size: the 44 points equaled the second-largest margin of victory for the Nets in their NBA lifetime. Another bucket or two more foul shots, and the Nets would have set a new one.
The win was the Nets’ season-high fourth in a row, and it got them off to a great start on this brutal stretch of games pre- and post-All-Star break. After Orlando, the Nets host the Spurs. And, after a five-game respite, they return to the practice floor to prepare for Houston and Dallas.
So, yes, the Nets needed this win for their psyche as well as the standings.
They all tried to downplay it, but the last time they had a patch like this – versus Boston, Portland, Boston, New Orleans, San Antonio – the Nets were 0-5, lost by an average of 14.2 and Vince Carter and Devin Harris were benched for one second half.
It was big for them to start this stretch with a win, any kind of win. It was just gravy that it was a laugher and got some key guys much-needed rest.
“It’s a first step,” Carter said.
Here are some important facts and figures about this game: Harris looks like he has his legs back. He got inside whenever he wanted and took 17 foul shots during his 28-point night. The Nets held a 54-30 edge in rebounding, had 26 assists on 37 field goals, turned 16 Denver turnovers into 18 points and held Denver nearly 35 points below their season average.
“We played well pretty much all the way around,” Harris said.
That’s what the Nets have been doing during this winning streak. It’s been about balance and defense. Now, Superman awaits.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)