It might be another loss for the Brooklyn Nets, but they sure as hell didn’t go down without a fight. Against the Cleveland Cavaliers, on the second night of a back-to-back, at that.
Despite playing just the prior night as well, the Nets came out red hot. They got off to an early 19-10 lead, thanks in part to DeMarre Carroll’s hot hand and Brooklyn’s ball movement. Also, Jarrett Allen added to his montage of dunks, off this slick pass from Spencer Dinwiddie:
— Nick Fay (@OTG_NICK) February 28, 2018
However, powered by LeBron James and some new faces, the Cavs remained within striking distance. Cedi Osman’s pull-up at the horn trimmed the Nets’ lead to 29-25.
Much of the second quarter was a slugfest, with both teams trading buckets. Cleveland was the first to begin to pull away, as the Nets were unable to contain Kyle Korver (the unfortunate answer to tonight’s “Who Am I?”). By halftime, Korver notched 14 points, and he paved the way for an 8-0 Cavs run that put them up 51-45.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s hustle in the last two and a half minutes helped Brooklyn remain competitive. In that timeframe, “The Hyphen” was responsible for four of the Nets’ points, igniting a 13-4 run to close out the half. Brooklyn even regained the lead, 61-60, as Allen Crabbe drained a jumper with 1.8 seconds left on the clock.
Other notable tidbits: In the first half, the Nets held a significant advantage at the free-throw line. Brooklyn shot 18-of-24 from the stripe, compared to Cleveland’s 2-of-7. And, contrary to the Cavs’ reliance on the three ball (8-of-17), the Nets (ironically) were only shooting 3-of-13.
Neither team really began to move the needle until midway into the third quarter. Led by George Hill, Cleveland moved its way to an 86-79 advantage.
Brooklyn responded with three consecutive baskets, including a triple apiece from Caris LeVert and Dante Cunningham. LeVert’s long two to end the quarter brought the Nets within three points, 94-91.
Rodney Hood knocked down the first two buckets of the fourth, but the Cavs quickly fell silent afterwards. The Nets resoundingly answered back with eight points of their own, capped off by a D’Angelo Russell three that gave them a 99-98 lead.
Hood continued to carry Cleveland in the period, as the Cavs responded with eight straight points. LeVert silenced that burst with two consecutive shots of his own: one from long range, another being a nine-footer.
The game remained competitive on both sides, with neither team letting the other slip too far ahead. With 1:04 left, Jordan Clarkson nailed a triple that gave Cleveland a slight 120-119 edge.
Following a Nets timeout, Crabbe wasted no time getting Brooklyn back the lead by drilling a midrange shot. Hood answered with a long two, plus a foul from Jarrett Allen. He completed the three-point play to put Cleveland on top 123-121 with 40.2 remaining.
Unfortunately, the Nets could not bounce back on the next possession, as Russell got trapped on the outside. He easily turned the ball over on an errant pass, and Brooklyn was left playing the foul game in the final seconds.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Small Forward
14 PTS, 4-7 FG, 6-8 FT, 7 REB, 2 AST, 2 TOV, 21 MIN
If we needed a definition for “hustle” tonight, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson would have his name and picture in the dictionary. That’s textbook “hustle” right there.
D’Angelo Russell Point Guard
25 PTS, 9-18 FG, 3-8 3PT, 4-5 FT, 5 REB, 6 AST, 2 STL, 1 TOV, 32 MIN
Ian Eagle said it best at the 3:40 mark: “D’Angelo Russell is deadly!” D’Lo really stepped up when the Nets needed him the most.
Caris LeVert Shooting Guard
18 PTS, 6-9 FG, 2-3 3PT, 4-4 FT, 3 REB, 1 AST, 1 TOV, 19 MIN
Caris LeVert trailed much of the Nets in minutes tonight, and understandably so — given it’s only his second game back. Still, his points total nearly matched his minutes, which speaks volumes to his contributions.
DeMarre Carroll Small Forward
16 PTS, 6-10 FG, 3-5 3PT, 1-3 FT, 6 REB, 3 AST, 32 MIN
That’s two straight solid performances from DeMarre Carroll, after coming out of the All-Star Break with a poor one. Keep it up, Junkyard Dog.
Allen Crabbe Shooting Guard
13 PTS, 5-12 FG, 0-6 3PT, 3 REB, 2 AST, 2 TOV, 32 MIN
Allen Crabbe has been sizzling for most of the month, but it just wasn’t his night — at least not from long distance. Not hitting a single three is unlike him though, so expect him to regain his hot hand in March.
Still, a crafty play and a key basket in crunchtime gives him a bump up in his grade.
ALLEN CRABBE was CRAFTY
— The Brooklyn Game (@TheBKGame) February 28, 2018