Kidd's Brooklyn Nets show new life

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NEW YORK -- Hours before the Nets snapped the Warriors' 10-game winning streak, Golden State coach Mark Jackson spent a good portion of his pregame session with reporters dishing out compliments about Jason Kidd as if he were handing out flashy assists during his playing days.

Jackson staunchly defended Kidd's ability to coach despite never having done so before and Kidd's decision to demote Lawrence Frank if that meant ensuring the team had one singular voice.

"I have never seen any one of The Pips try to lead," Jackson argued. "That's Gladys' role.

"Let Gladys be Gladys."

It may have taken some time -- about a month to be exact since the Frank demotion -- but the Nets and Kidd are starting to make some music on the court. For the second time in less than a week, Kidd and the Nets have a signature victory over a Western Conference power after outlasting the Warriors 102-98 at Barclays Center.

After vowing to be a new team in 2014, the Nets are undefeated in the new year, riding a four-game winning streak. They stunned Kevin Durant at Oklahoma City before taking care of business against undermanned Cleveland and Atlanta.

Wednesday night's win over the Warriors, though, gives the Nets (14-21) some added legitimacy to this winning streak.

Sure, the Warriors were finishing up an exhausting seven-game road swing low on gas. But the Nets managed to survive against Stephen Curry without Deron Williams, who could be out for an extended period of time because of an ankle injury, and Brook Lopez, who is out for the season.

And let's face it -- the Nets looked like a team that was going to sink into the gutter on New Year's Eve after being routed in San Antonio.

So what has changed?

"Give Jason a lot of credit," Jackson said before the Nets' win. "When you have adversity is when true leadership shows up. They've responded [to him]. There's a long time left to go in this season."

The Nets still aren't the team many thought they would be with all the injuries and adjustments to a rookie coach. But there are a few reasons why the Nets have suddenly shown some life.

Kidd has installed a smaller lineup featuring Paul Pierce at power forward. Andrei Kirilenko and Andray Blatche have returned to provide depth, and players seem to be understanding their roles better. Plus, the Nets are playing defense.

But more than anything else, the Nets are fighting. They're now taking a punch and showing resiliency instead of folding.

"To be honest, the confidence is in the fight," Kevin Garnett said. "You know? Jason has done a great job of just continuing to explain what he wants out of this offense. And I think we are picking it up slowly but surely."

Golden State opened Wednesday's game looking as if it were going to blow the Nets out, jumping out to a 32-16 lead late in the first quarter. But the Nets responded by outscoring the Warriors 37-20 in the second quarter.

In the third, a quarter that has killed the Nets so many times this season, Kidd's team didn't back down, even when the Warriors erased an 11-point Nets lead.

Kidd turned to Garnett in the fourth and the veteran responded with a throwback game, scoring 11 of his 13 points in crunch time, thanks in part to his patented jab, stepback mid-range jumper.

"When I go to dial her up, I want her to pick the phone up," he said of his jumper. "Tonight I dialed and she was right there, answering like she is supposed to."

Pierce dialed up some vintage defense in the fourth quarter. Kirilenko provided some hustle. Blatche gave the Nets an offensive boost off the bench early in the game. Shaun Livingston played a solid floor game at point. And Joe Johnson provided the scoring punch the Nets so desperately needed.

Sure, it helped that Curry and the Warriors were tired. Curry (34 points) and Klay Thompson (14 points) combined to shoot 6-for-20 from 3-point range on weary legs.

But the Nets are showing signs of life as they slowly try to claw their way back to .500.

"It's clicking," Pierce said of the Nets. "We went to the small lineup, gives us more versatility on defense where we can switch a lot, rotate, use our speed. I think it is working to our advantage.

"This definitely can give us a confidence boost in moving forward to show you what we are capable of. We beat two great Western Conference teams in a matter of a week so we just got to keep building."

Few saw this coming just 10 days ago. Jackson, though, never wavered in his belief that Kidd can coach, even if he's only a few months into his coaching career.

"I truly believe that Jason Kidd did not have to be an assistant coach to become a head coach," said Jackson, who became a television analyst after retiring before entering coaching. "Because I watched him run teams and I played against teams that he was orchestrating. I got a lot of respect for him.

"He played the point guard position at as high a level as you can possibly play it. He's been a coach on every team that he's played on. He won a championship being an offensive coordinator, with all due respect to Rick Carlisle. But I am sure Rick will tell you the same thing."

Whatever Kidd has done since 2014 began, whether it be scrapping a tie or a big lineup, Garnett would like to see it keep going, especially with the Heat visiting on Friday.

Asked if things are completely different from just 10 days ago for the Nets, the veteran didn't show any hesitation -- just like on his jumpers in the fourth quarter.

"Absolutely," Garnett said.

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