3:00 PM ET, January 16, 2014
O2 ARENA, London
LONDON -- The Brooklyn Nets should think about making another franchise move -- to London.
The Nets improved to 3-0 in regular-season NBA games in the British capital with a 127-110 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday.
Joe Johnson, who spent seven years with the Hawks, led the way for the Nets at the O2 Arena. The Brooklyn guard scored 26 of his game-high 29 points in the first half, and nailed two buzzer-beating 3-pointers.
"We just exploited mismatches. I was just feeding off these guys," Johnson said. "We had a lot of ball movement and took a lot of open shots."
Three years ago, the then-New Jersey Nets played two regular-season games at the same O2 Arena, located on the banks of the River Thames and the venue used for the gold medal basketball game at the 2012 London Olympics. They beat the Raptors in both those games.
Although the crowd seemed to save its loudest cheers for off-the-court action, both teams finished the game with five players scoring in double digits.
"The ball was moving, guys were looking for each other and finding each other," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "Joe has been off the charts. Not just last few games but the whole season."
The Hawks stayed close for the first quarter, but the Nets started to pull away in the second. Anderson started an 8-0 run early in the quarter, with Pierce contributing two layups and Blatche finishing it off with a putback to make it 39-30.
"Their size and their length was a problem in a lot of different ways, and rebounding was just one of them," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
Johnson ended the half with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 65-53. And the Nets pulled further away in the third quarter, with Johnson again finishing it off with a buzzer-beating 3 to make it 99-74.
Although his scoring numbers dropped in the second half, Johnson has now scored 20 or more points in four straight games.
"We've got the best seat in the house," Garnett said of watching Johnson put up big numbers. "When you're so used to being in that situation yourself, it's great to have a guy who can just take over the game."
On the other end, Hawks guard Kyle Korver extended his NBA record to 108 straight games with a 3-pointer.
Korver was off-target in the first three quarters and finally sank his eighth attempt from beyond the arc with just over 8 minutes to go, making it 111-81. That was his only basket of the night.
"To give him an opportunity to continue something that's very unique and special is important," Budenholzer said. "At some point the streak will come to an end, but it wasn't tonight."
Both teams play again on Monday. The Nets visit the New York Knicks while the Hawks host Miami.
Besides the game, the fans oftentimes cheered wildly for the entertainment between quarters and timeouts, and for one famous guest.
During a break in the third quarter, the face of Beatles great Paul McCartney flashed up on the big screen. As the crowd roared, several kids nearby jumped into the frame to make themselves seen. McCartney, sitting behind the Nets' bench, then squirmed his way through the youngsters to gets his face back up on the giant monitor as "Hey Jude" blared inside the venue.
NOTES: Nets G Deron Williams was out with a sprained left ankle. ... The Nets-Hawks encounter is the 12th NBA game in London, dating back to 1993, but only the fourth regular-season game. ... The Nets improved to 8-3 this season when Johnson scores 20 or more points. ... As usual, several Premier League soccer stars made their way to the O2 Arena to watch the game, including Germany striker Lukas Podolski and England midfielder Jack Wilshere. Both play for London club Arsenal.
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Reggie Evans #30 of the Brooklyn Nets prepares for the game against the Atlanta...(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Around The Association
MVP: Joe Johnson was simply scorching in London. He had 29 points in just 30 minutes of action, sinking six 3-pointers, two of which were buzzer-beaters.
X factor: Andray Blatche. Given the balanced scoring output of the Nets -- five players scored in double figures -- several players could be deserving of this award. However, Blatche lays claim thanks to his 14 rebounds and six assists (though the five turnovers weren't pretty) off the bench.
That was ... a 3 party: The Nets showed no sign of jet lag in this display of offensive firepower. They hit 16 of their 27 3-point attempts. Whenever it seemed as if the Hawks might close the gap, the Nets promptly swished another 3, burying any hopes of an Atlanta comeback.
Next 5 Games
Joe Johnson (BKN): 26 points at half; 2nd game this season with at least 26 points in the 1st half (also did so on January 10). He had 4 such games total in his career entering this season.
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