Deron Williams and Paul Pierce carry Nets win 108-102 over Lakers in Jason Collins’ historic debut

LOS ANGELES — In a game that Jason Collins became the first active openly gay NBA player, his teammates Deron Williams and Paul Pierce carried the Brooklyn Nets to a 108-102 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, which snapped an 11-game losing streak to Los Angeles.

In a game where the Lakers never led, Brooklyn raced out to a quick 19-8 lead that grew to as much as 19 over Los Angeles largely in part to 14 points from Paul Pierce, who finished with 25 points for the game.. The Nets in the opening quarter shot 67 percent from the field including 11 assists on 13 made field goals.

Kent Bazemore, who was in his first career NBA start, lead Los Angeles in the second quarter with nine of his career-high 17 points, but Brooklyn was able to maintain a double-digit lead throughout the quarter. Williams scored eight points as he and Pierce combined for 35 of the Nets 63 first-half points.

“Our lack of toughness in the first half. We gave it away,” D’Antoni said. “For whatever reason, a couple of nights now, the first quarter has just been [bad] out there. you can’t spot these guys that many points and then pick it up, although in the second half I thought we played with intensity and came out with a couple of plays. That’s what happens when you get behind.”

The Lakers cut the deficit to just six points late in the third quarter, but the Nets responded with a 6-0 run to end the quarter that included a pair of 3-pointers by Mirza Teletovic to push their advantage to 12 points. Los Angeles for the quarter shot 56 percent with Pau Gasol leading the way with seven of his team-high 22 points for the game.

Los Angeles kept the game close in the fourth quarter but was unable to get any closer than four points as Brooklyn answered the bell to each Lakers’ run with Williams scoring 11 of his game-high 30 points in the final quarter.

“There is just not enough tension,” Gasol said of the Lakers’ first half struggles. “We play small, and we just have to get after it and get into guys instead of giving up positions. There wasn’t enough fight in us. We let them get in charge too comfortably, and transition defense did not have enough communication in that guys were getting wide-open shots. Just mistakes that cost us.”

As for Collins in his first NBA game since last April, he was 0-for-1 with o points, two rebounds, a steal and five fouls in 11 minutes played.

 “Conditioning-wise, I felt good,” Collins said. “It was a lot fun to get back out on the court. I set screens, hard fouls. I didn’t take any charges tonight, but that will change. It felt good back out there out on the court and get my teammates open.

 “The most important thing is the team got the win. I don’t care about scoring. I care about my team winning.”
Collins also appreciated the warm reception he received from the crowd when he checked into the game early in the second quarter
“I thought it was great,” Collins said. “Being an L.A. kid I can’t think of a better situation, playing for the Nets and playing here and getting the win. Just glad Kobe (Bryant) and Shaq (O’Neal) weren’t out there.”
Nick Young played in his first game since Feb. 5  as he managed to score 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting with one rebound in 19 minutes played.
“A little sore, but I am just trying to play the games the best I can and try to be there for my teammates,” Young said after scoring 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting with one rebound in 19 minutes played. “It’s just pain. The coaches keep telling me to wait but I just love the game of basketball.”
The Lakers will now embark on the road for a back-t0-back against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday and the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. They will return back to Staples Center on Friday against the Sacramento Kings.

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Bob Garcia IV

Staff Writer at Sports Out West
Bob Garcia IV is a sports journalist from Southern California. He's currently the Los Angeles Lakers beat writer for Sports Out West. He is also currently covering the NBA and NFL for ClutchPoints. He was previously the beat writer for LA Rams Report for Scout.com, which is a website dedicated to covering the Rams. Lastly, he was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarciaivsports.


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