The streaky shooting guard had a team-high 27 points in the Brooklyn Nets’ 104-89 win over the Sacramento Kings at Barclays Center.
“There’s not many guys that can do what he does,” Deron Williams said. “He comes in, he hits one and then it’s like NBA Jam. He’s on fire.”
Thornton admitted recently that he doesn’t know all the plays just yet. Not so, according to his coach, Jason Kidd.
“There are plays, he knows them -- it’s called ‘shoot it,’” Kidd joked. “He reminds me of Eddie House, someone I played with in the league. Quick release, threat behind the arc, but can also get to the basket. He’s played extremely well since the trade and he gives us another weapon offensively. But again, defensively he’s been someone that’s helped us rebound the ball on both ends.”
In Thornton’s past five outings, he has scored 25, 3, 20, 4 and 27 points -- giving the Nets a much-needed spark every other game.
“Anytime you see the ball go through the net, you get a confidence about yourself,” Thornton said. “I credit my teammates for finding me in spots I can be effective in. And you know, my shots were going down.”
As for beating the Kings, Thornton said it was good to see his “homeboys,” but he just wanted to help his team win.
And that’s exactly what he did.
NEW YORK -- Marcus Thornton scored 15 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter against his old team and Joe Johnson added 18 points, helping the Brooklyn Nets overcome an injury to Paul Pierce in a 104-89 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night.
Brooklyn led by 16 points in the first half after losing Pierce to a right shoulder injury in the early minutes of the first quarter.
Sacramento trailed 49-40 at halftime and then opened the third quarter with a 17-8 run to tie the score at 57-all with 7:38 left in the period.
However, Brooklyn outscored Sacramento 47-32 the rest of the way.
It’s definitely a concern right now.
The Nets, who were already without Kevin Garnett for a fifth straight game due to back spasms, lost both Paul Pierce (sore right shoulder) and Andrei Kirilenko (sprained right ankle) to injury in their 104-89 blowout victory over the Sacramento Kings Sunday night at Barclays Center.
With critical games coming up against Toronto, Miami and Washington this week, this isn’t good. Better hope those guys are OK.
What it means: The Nets (31-30) won their seventh straight game at home -- matching a season high. They are 14-2 in their past 16 at home, 16-2 in their past 18 against sub-.500 teams. It was a nice way to rebound from their poor performance Friday night in Boston.
Marcus Thornton led the way in his first game against his former team, scoring 27 points -- including 13 straight bridging the end of the third and the beginning of the fourth. He has scored 20 or more points three times in his first seven games with Brooklyn. He had three 20-plus-point games in 46 games with Sacramento.
Joe Johnson had 11 of his 18 points in the third quarter.
As per usual, the Nets were destroyed on the backboards (53-27) but turned 25 Kings turnovers into 27 points. They shot 53.2 percent from the field and went 12-for-25 from 3-point range, a game after they went 4-for-30 against the Celtics.
Brooklyn led by as many as 25 after throwing away a 16-point lead early in the third.
My Cousin DeMarcus: DeMarcus Cousins had 28 points and 20 rebounds. Jason Collins, who played a season-high 20 minutes and recorded his second field goal as a Net, played excellent defense on Cousins, and the Sacramento center picked up his fourth foul with 3:15 left and the Kings trailing 67-61. It may have been the turning point of the game.
Debut: Jorge Gutierrez, recently signed to a 10-day contract, became the fourth native of Mexico to play in a game in NBA history. He scored his first career point on a free throw with 9.6 seconds left. The crowd liked it.
Circus shot of the game: How crafty was that second-quarter scoop by Mirza Teletovic? Agreed. It was very crafty.
Return of Reggie: Former Net Reggie Evans had three points and seven rebounds in his first game as a Barclays Center visitor.
Up next: The Nets face the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors Monday night in the second half of a rare home back-to-back.
"They're both day to day, so we'll see how they feel tomorrow," Nets coach Jason Kidd said.
Pierce was forced to leave the game due to a sore right shoulder, and the team later announced he would not return. Pierce re-injured his shoulder 1:13 into the first quarter while defending Kings forward Jason Thompson.
He looked to be in agony as he headed into the locker room. Pierce has been dealing with what he called a "stinger" in his right shoulder, which forced him to come out briefly the last two games.
"It's been a problem for me throughout the last few years," Pierce said Friday night. "It's weak right now, so whenever I get hit in that shoulder ... just with the constant years of banging, especially now that I'm playing the 4. So it's a quick stinger."
Kirilenko said he sprained his right ankle in the first quarter when he stepped on point guard Deron Williams' foot. He tried to continue, but was forced to leave the game in the third quarter.
"I don't think it's serious," Kirilenko said. "We'll see tomorrow. Usually the next day is a crucial day, so we'll see how it feels in the morning."
The Nets face the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors on Monday night in a critical matchup.
“I wasn’t shocked by the trade,” Evans said Sunday. “I was surprised knowing it was Sacramento who wanted me, but I really wasn’t shocked about the trade. Like I told Billy [King], it’s never personal, it’s always business, so I understand.
“I’m not one of those players that holds grudges or takes it personal when you get traded. It’s a business. At the end of the day, I’m still living out my dream, and that’s to play in the NBA. So that’s the best way to look at it.”
Evans said the hardest part has been being away from his family. His children go to school in the New York area and won’t be finished until June.
“I have four kids, and you know me, I’m into their lives,” Evans said. “Even when I’m not with them, I’m still on the phone talking to them or Skype-ing with them on the iPhone.”
Evans said the weirdest part about being back at Barclays Center was being in the visitors locker room -- a place he’d never been before. Evans said he’s going to miss his former teammates, whom he refers to as “brothers.” He plans on coming back and watching some Nets playoff games with his kids still in school.
Evans was one of many veterans on the Nets, but he’s become the elder statesman in Sacramento, both in age (33) and years of experience (12). He has embraced his role as a leader on the Kings, leading by example through his hard work and determination.
Last season, Evans started 56 games for the Nets and was a key contributor in the frontcourt, averaging 11.1 rebounds per game. But this season, he quickly fell out of the rotation playing under coach Jason Kidd.
“They didn’t wanna play me, so I couldn’t be mad about it, I couldn’t be bitter about it,” Evans said. “I just took it on the chin and supported my team and still was grinding.”
Evans said he never knew why he didn’t play, saying he never had a meeting with Kidd about it.
“I’m clueless, I don’t know,” said Evans, who felt like he could help the team if he was on the court.
“But it’s over with. It’s in the past. I’m in a whole new chapter in my life.”
Evans has thrived in Sacramento, averaging 7.3 points and 8.4 rebounds on 62.1 percent shooting in 21.1 minutes in his first seven games.
Evans was always supportive of Brook Lopez, serving as a mentor for the young center.
Lopez credits Evans for his development into an All-Star. Evans is hoping to have the same impact on DeMarcus Cousins.
“I expected a lot out of Brook, and I just always wanted him to know ‘You’re the best. You’re the best at your position. Nobody can stop you.’ I always wanted to put that in his ear. ‘You’re an All-Star.’ From day one, when I met Brook, I told him, ‘You’re an All-star.’ And he was an All-Star. And he was gonna be an All-Star this year [before he got hurt],” Evans said.
“Now I gotta carry that on to the big fella over here, but I think I left a big impact on Brook.”
“I’m not concerned,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “He looked good today, so we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
Mason Plumlee will make his fifth straight start in Garnett’s place. Plumlee is averaging 6.3 points in 5.5 rebounds on 68.8 percent shooting in his last four games.
“I think [Kevin’s] working extremely hard right now,” Kidd said. “It’s about April and May for us.”
The Nets are allowing just 90.8 points per game in the last four games, going 3-1 in that span.
Since Jan. 1 (21 games), Garnett is averaging 7.1 points and 6.4 rebounds on 57 percent shooting in 20.2 minutes.
Hitting their mark: The Nets (30-30) went just 4-for-30 from 3-point range against the Boston Celtics on Friday night, missing all 17 of their attempts from downtown in the first half. Brooklyn surely hopes that’s just an anomaly, not the beginning of a trend. The Nets are tied for 14th in 3-point accuracy (35.9 percent).
King for a day: Marcus Thornton faces his former team. Thornton has been streaky since being traded to the Nets from the Kings, scoring 9, 10, 25, 3, 20 and 4 points in his first six games with Brooklyn. Reggie Evans, who was seldom-used by the Nets, meanwhile, is averaging 7.3 points and 8.4 rebounds on 62.1 percent shooting in seven games with Sacramento. Given the way Brooklyn struggles on the boards, don’t be surprised if Evans has himself a big night.
Will KG play? Kevin Garnett has missed the last four games due to back spasms. If he can’t go, rookie Mason Plumlee will likely start in his place once again.
Home dominance: The Nets are 13-2 in their last 15 games at home, and have won six straight there. Brooklyn is also 15-2 in its last 17 against sub-.500 opponents.
Pierce came out of the game while trainer Tim Walsh worked on his shoulder, but returned in the fourth.
“It’s been a problem for me throughout the last few years,” said Pierce, who was also briefly forced out of Wednesday night’s game because of the injury. “It’s weak right now, so whenever I get hit in that shoulder ... just with the constant years of banging, especially now that I’m playing the four. So it’s a quick stinger.”
• Pierce, who spent the first 15 seasons of his career in Boston, was asked if he’d ever play for the Celtics again.
“Yeah, why not?” he replied. “Maybe play for them, maybe work for them. Who knows what the future holds.”
Pierce is in the last year of his contract ($15.3 million) and will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
The Nets hold his full Bird Rights, meaning they could exceed the salary cap to re-sign him.
• Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com wrote about the relationship between Rajon Rondo and Pierce. Click here to read it.
BOSTON -- Rajon Rondo doesn't always let opposing players help his teammates up off the floor -- just last Saturday he pushed Indiana's Roy Hibbert out of the way to peel Jeff Green off the parquet on his own. But there are exceptions.
Like when it's old friend Paul Pierce sticking out his hand to pick Rondo up after putting him on the floor late in the first half of Friday's Celtics-Nets tilt at TD Garden. Fans roared and Pierce smiled wide after he pulled Rondo up and patted him on the rear.
Just the former captain looking out for the new one.
A couple hours later, in the still-odd confines of the visitors' locker room, Pierce praised Rondo while assessing the new captain's ability to lead Boston back to contender status.
"In the end, me and Rondo share a special bond," said Pierce. "We'll always be friends, we'll always have something in common with our championship, our kids still hang out together."
Amid the heartfelt words came a brief moment of levity.
The Nets, who came in ranked 12th in the NBA in 3-point percentage (36.4), missed their first 17 3s -- all in the first half -- and finished 4-for-30 from downtown.
The Nets (30-30) came into Friday night’s game having won four in a row -- and were facing a 19-41 Celtics team that had lost seven of its past eight -- but they failed to take advantage of the situation.
Brooklyn had led wire-to-wire in four of its past five games. It trailed wire-to-wire in this one.
“We had plenty of good looks, they just didn’t go down for us tonight,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said.
The setback came at a most inopportune time. The Toronto Raptors (34-26) won Friday night, extending their Atlantic Division lead over the Nets to four games with 22 remaining in the regular season.
“You always have room for improvement,” Kidd said. “And this is just another sign that we have to keep working, keep grinding and understand that we can’t take anybody lightly.”
“I’m sure nobody took them lightly,” Kirilenko said. “I don’t think we’re in a position to take anybody lightly.”
The Nets shot 36.3 percent overall and got killed on the glass, losing the rebounding battle 51-28.
Not one Net shot well from 3: Deron Williams went 2-for-8; Joe Johnson went 1-for-7; Marcus Thornton went 0-for-6; and Paul Pierce went 0-for-4.
The Nets trailed by as many as 18 in the third quarter, but they cut a 64-46 deficit to just two with 2:01 left in the frame. But the Celtics closed the third on a 6-2 run to make it 78-70 heading into the fourth, and the Nets went ice cold in the final stanza, needing nearly six minutes to register their first field goal.
It was an ugly performance from a Brooklyn team that had gone 15-1 in its past 16 games against sub-.500 opponents.
“That’s basketball,” Kidd said. “Sometimes it just doesn’t go down for you, and you have these type of nights, but you can look back and learn from them, and that’s what we’ll do.”
Boston scored the first five points and never trailed, although Brooklyn used an 11-point run to cut the lead to 70-68 with 2:02 left in the third quarter. But the Celtics came back to take a 78-70 lead entering the final quarter and led by at least seven points the rest of the way.
The Celtics outrebounded the Nets 62-37, an important advantage since they turned the ball over 28 times, twice as many as Brooklyn. Rondo also had nine assists and seven rebounds.
What it means: The Nets (30-30) dropped back to .500 and fell to 15-2 in their past 17 games against sub-.500 teams.
They shot 36.3 percent from the field and went 4-for-30 from 3-point range. The Nets missed all 17 of their 3-point attempts in the first half. The Denver Nuggets shot an NBA-record 0-for-22 from beyond the arc on Dec. 20, 2012.
Down 64-48 in the third quarter, the Nets closed within 70-68 before the Celtics ended the quarter on an 8-2 run. It took Brooklyn 5:55 to record its first fourth-quarter field goal.
Given that the Toronto Raptors (34-26) won, this was a disappointing night. Brooklyn is now four games behind Toronto in the Atlantic Division with 22 games remaining.
Several Nets had rough nights, including Shaun Livingston (0-for-6 from the field, fouled out) and Marcus Thornton (1-for-9 from the field, 0-for-6 from 3-point range).
Deron Williams did score 20 points, though he was just 2-for-8 from downtown. Joe Johnson (illness) had 21 points, seven rebounds and shot 1-for-7 from 3-point territory.
Paul Pierce, in his second return to Boston, had 10 points and re-injured his neck area, which forced him to sit some of the third. Andrei Kirilenko might have suffered an injury while intercepting a pass in the fourth.
The Nets were annihilated on the glass 51-28.
No KG: Kevin Garnett missed his fourth straight game due to back spasms.
Up next: Following an off day, the Nets face the Sacramento Kings Sunday night at Barclays Center.
NO KG Kevin Garnett did not make the trip and will miss his fourth straight game because of back spasms. Mason Plumlee will start again in Garnett’s place. The rookie big man has been averaging five points and 5.7 rebounds on 63.6 percent shooting while Garnett has been out. Joe Johnson (illness) will start, according to reporters in Boston. Johnson is averaging 20 points on 62.5 percent shooting in his last two games.
THE TRUTH IS: Pierce thinks going back to Boston will always bring back some emotions. But it won’t be like the first time back on Jan. 26, when the Celtics gave Pierce and Garnett a hero’s welcome. Since Jan. 1, Pierce, who has flourished in a stretch power forward role, is averaging 14.3 points on 45.7 percent shooting. Pierce played his first 15 seasons in Boston, becoming the franchise’s second all-time leading scorer. Jason Collins will also be going back to Boston, though he only played there briefly last season (32 games).
KEEP IT GOING: The Nets (30-29) moved one game above the .500 mark for the first time Wednesday night. Brooklyn has won four in a row overall. The Nets are 20-8 since Jan. 1 -- the best record in the Eastern Conference over that span.
GET IT GOING: Mirza Teletovic is shooting just 27.6 percent from 3-point range since Jan. 26.
D IT UP: Since Jan. 1, the Nets lead the NBA in forced turnovers per game (17.6) and points off turnovers per game (21.1). During their winning streak, the Nets are yielding 90.3 points per game and forcing 22.8 turnovers.
STAT SO: Marcus Thornton became the first Nets reserve to score 15 consecutive points in a game since Johnny Newman (April 14, 2000, versus Orlando), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
And yet when Pierce makes his second trip back to Boston to play against the Celtics on Friday, the Nets' swingman will feel a tad sentimental again.
"I think as long as I'm in the NBA, it's still going to be a little emotional for me," Pierce said of playing in Boston. "I played so many regular-season games, so many big games on that floor. So many memories that are never going to go away on that floor."
The Nets beat the Celtics 85-79 on Jan. 26, but Pierce and Kevin Garnett had to do more than just hold off the Celtics in that one. They had to battle their emotions all night in what Garnett referred to as "by far, the hardest day that I had to focus."
This time, though, Pierce will not have Garnett with him. Garnett will miss his fourth straight game because of back spasms and did not make the trip, according to the Nets.
“The former Celtics duo repeatedly received ovations from fans in the building in which they helped raise a championship banner in 2008.
I think as long as I'm in the NBA, it's still going to be a little emotional for me. I played so many regular-season games, so many big games on that floor. So many memories that are never going to go away on that floor.” --Paul Pierce on returning to Boston
While Garnett will not be there, another Nets big man will be making his return to Boston. Jason Collins will play his first game in Boston since joining the Nets and becoming the first openly gay player to play in one of North America's four major professional sports.
The 7-foot Collins played 32 games in Boston during part of the 2012-13 season and has fond memories of his short time in the city.
"I think it means a little bit more when KG and [Pierce] go back," Collins said with a chuckle. "I had a great time with the Celtics organization even though I was only with them for half a season last year. A great organization, great time, great fans, looking forward to going back."
This trip should be a bit more business-like for Pierce. But the veteran knows the feelings he'll have to battle whenever he is in that building.
"It's still going to be a little emotional, probably not as much [as last time]," Pierce said. "But when you have that many memories, it's tough to [forget]."
Up now: KG will miss his fourth straight game, but Billy King doesn't expect the big man to be out too long.
The Nets may have just learned what it feels like to be over .500. But they have been playing like a winning team for a bit, and Pierce says they can match up with anybody in the East.
The Nets signed point guard Jorge Gutierrez to a 10-day contract.
Call him “Magic” Blatche.
Net statistic: Mirza Teletovic is trying to shoot his way out of a bit of a slump. Since scoring 13 points against Charlotte on Feb. 12, Teletovic has failed to reach double figures in the nine games since. He is averaging 5.3 points and shooting just 18-of-54 (33 percent) overall and 12-of-40 (30 percent) from beyond the arc during that stretch.
What's next: The Nets are in Boston for a 7:30 tip.
Net question: Do you agree with Pierce that the Nets can match up with any team in the Eastern Conference in a playoff series?
Final - 2OT St. John's 91 Marquette 90 Final Seton Hall 54 Butler 71 Final 15 Cincinnati 70 Rutgers 66 Final Princeton 74 Columbia 64 Final G. Washington 70 Fordham 67 Final Hofstra 76 Delaware 87 Final St. Peter's 58 Manhattan 72 Final Rider 71 Iona 94 Final Mount St Mary's 77 Wagner 72 Final Maine 54 Stony Brook 80
Final R H E Yankees 9 11 0 Astros 6 12 3 Final R H E Mets 3 9 0 Tigers 2 5 0
Final 7 Syracuse 74 Florida State 58 Final Quinnipiac 68 Manhattan 87 Final Canisius 72 Iona 75 Final Hartford 64 Stony Brook 69
7:00 PM ET NY Rangers Carolina 7:00 PM ET New Jersey Philadelphia
7:00 PM ET Butler Seton Hall 7:00 PM ET South Florida Rutgers 7:00 PM ET Fordham George Mason