ATLANTA (AP) - P.J. Carlesimo believes if the Brooklyn Nets maintain this kind of effort, they can keep moving up the Eastern Conference standings.
``That's as good a game as we've played all year considering it was a back-to-back and how important a game we felt this was for us,' the interim coach said. ``From the point we were down 10, or whatever we were, we can't play much better.'
Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche each scored 18 points, Deron Williams added 17 and the Nets won their third straight game with a 93-80 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night.
Al Horford finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Hawks, who seemed lethargic after losing in overtime at Boston on Friday. Atlanta has lost two straight and five of six.
Brooklyn had a better performance coming off its 17-point home victory over Washington on Friday in which Williams set the NBA record with nine 3-pointers in a half and scored a season-high 42 points.
Lopez, who finished with nine rebounds, scored 14 points in the third, including a runner that gave Brooklyn its first 20-point lead.
``My shots started falling,' Lopez said. ``That was a focus for me at halftime. I got good looks, and guys like Joe (Johnson) and Deron set great screens for me. We really wanted to try to attack the basket and open up the floor for us.'
The Hawks began the game with an 11-1 lead, and the score was tied after the first quarter, but they bottomed out from there.
Horford declined to use the loss at Boston as an excuse for Atlanta's low energy level.
``All the teams are dealing with it,' Horford said. ``I think we had a little carry-over from the game last night. We fought very hard in Boston, and I think we started out OK, but we couldn't maintain that rhythm.'
It doesn't get any easier for the Hawks, who visit the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat on Tuesday before hosting the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
``We have a tough task ahead of us,' Horford said. ``We have to regroup and go to Miami.'
The Nets took their first double-digit lead midway through the second quarter when Mirza Teletovic's 3-pointer made it 39-29. It only got worse in the second half for Atlanta, which trailed by 23 early in the fourth on a couple of long jumpers by Blatche.
Atlanta came within 13 midway through the fourth on John Jenkins' 3-pointer, but C.J. Watson followed with a 3-pointer and Blatche's fadeaway jumper made it 89-71.
Johnson, the former Hawks guard, returned for the second time with Brooklyn to Philips Arena, scoring just eight points on 4-for-13 shooting. He was lightly booed every time he touched the ball in the first three quarters.
The Nets, who snapped an eight-game losing streak in Atlanta, have improved to 37-26 and are 2 1/2 games from second place in the East.
``When we're that focused and play with that much attentiveness as we did tonight - not much energy - we can be a really good basketball team,' Carlesimo said. ``We were a really good basketball team tonight. It's one game, but that's really, really encouraging.'
Notes: Brooklyn F Reggie Evans finished with six points and nine rebounds in 23 minutes despite playing with swelling in both eyes. Carlesimo said before the game that Evans was scratched in both eyes against Washington. He had 11 points and a career-high 24 boards Friday. ... Carlesimo improved to 23-12 since Avery Johnson was fired. ... Hawks C Zaza Pachulia missed his fourth straight game and 10th in the last 21 with a sore right Achilles. ... Pachulia is listed as day-to-day. ... With Lopez in the lineup for Brooklyn, Johan Petro started at center. Petro, who has played in only 21 games this season, scored 10 points in the first quarter but did not take another shot.
The Associated Press News Service
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