The Brooklyn Nets made a spectacular comeback in the waning moments of the fourth quarter but they were unable to dig themselves out of an early deficit as the home side dropped their 16th straight game at the Barclays Center and 14th straight overall in a 129-125 nail-biter against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Nets were constantly playing catch-up and Milwaukee was able to score at will against the league’s worst defense. Giannis Antetokoumpo shredded Brooklyn en route to 33-points and a handful of dazzling highlights.
Brooklyn scored 33 points in the first quarter, buoyed by a 12-point frame from Brook Lopez, who ended with a game-high 36 points. Milwaukee, however, converted on 16 of their 22 field goal attempts and held a 39-33 lead after a quarter of play. Brooklyn was able to cut the deficit to just 2 at the half while shooting 45.8% from the field and converting on 7 of 21 3-point field goal attempts. Milwaukee converted on 54%, unfortunately, getting whatever they wanted at the rim.
The third quarter was disastrous for Brooklyn, per usual, as they turned the ball over 9 times and were outscored 33-23. Many of the errors were unforced, and the team had no answers for Greg Monroe who scored 25 points off the bench for the Bucks. The Nets played much of the third and fourth quarters playing catch-up as the team looked like it was heading for another blowout loss in a season that has been filled with them.
In the final few minutes of the fourth quarter, however, the Nets were able to make this a game. With 3:40 left in the fourth quarter, Spencer Dinwiddie cut the lead to 5 with his only made three-pointer of the night and Lopez followed that up with his sixth three-pointer of the night to cut the lead to two. On the other end, Antetokoumpo nailed a mid-range shot over Lopez to extend the lead to four. Dinwiddie then answered with two free throws as he looked to lead the Nets on an improbable comeback.
Monroe soon answered but Dinwiddie again got to the rim, making it a 2-point game again with a minute and a half remaining. But time, and the free throw game, eventually caught up with the Nets in the end. Brooklyn was forced to foul Middleton at the end of the game and the 87% free throw shooter was able to ice the game.
The Nets played with heart but were ultimately unable to take care of the ball as they turned it over 17 times. Caris LeVert was ineffective as he failed to record a field goal and the bench hemorrhaged points, mostly responsible for the third quarter meltdown. Still, with a league-worst record at 9-47, it is encouraging to see that this team refuses to give up when facing adversity. Remember, success for this team isn’t necessarily measured in wins and losses so an effort like tonight can certainly be considered progress.
With the league’s worst record and the playoffs way out of reach, the Nets do have one thing to look forward to and that is the return of Jeremy Lin. Lin, who has played in just 12 games this season, will return following the conclusion of the NBA All-Star break. Perhaps we will finally see what this team will look like with its franchise point guard back in the fold.
Brook Lopez Center
36 PTS, 12-20 FG, 6-10 3PA, 4 REB, 8 BLKS, 0 TOV
In what could potentially be Brook Lopez’s last game with the Nets, the center put on a performance for the ages. Lopez made 6 of his 10 three-point attempts and matched his career-high with 8 blocks. Although he grabbed just four rebounds, it can be forgiven considering the Nets probably would have had no shot in this game had it not been for his heroics.
With Brooklyn looking for multiple first-round draft picks in a potential Lopez package, it is possible that the stretch-5 stays in Brooklyn after the trade deadline. If this was his last game as a Net, however, he couldn’t have put on a more valiant performance.
Trevor Booker Power Forward
18 PTS, 7-8 FGA, 5 REB, 3 AST, 3 TOV
Trevor Booker was once again involved with the highlights for Brooklyn on both ends of the floor. The forward was all over, racking up 18 points off the bench and grabbing 5 rebounds. Though he did have a couple of unforced errors offensively, he still made plays as he anchored a second unit that mostly contributed little.
Spencer Dinwiddie Point Guard
19 PTS, 7-12 FGA, 8 REB, 5 AST, 0 TOV
Spencer Dinwiddie was the driving force behind the Nets’ fourth quarter comeback. Though his three-point shot continues to be a work-in-progress (1-3 3PTA) his flurry late on cut the Nets’ lead to just 2 in the waning moments of the game. Dinwiddie has carved out a nice role in Kenny Atkinson’s rotation and should see consistent playing time even with Jeremy Lin returning after the All-Star Break.
Joe Harris Shooting Guard
14 PTS, 5-9 FG, 4-6 3PT
Classic Joe Harris queued up the Nets’ first big run of the second half and his lights out performance helped the Nets jump back into things.
He was, also, one of three Nets with a positive +/-.