It’s taken us 79 games to come to this conclusion, but it turns out Allen Crabbe throwing anything at the rim is the cure to Brooklyn’s inability to close out games.
The Bucks held a three-point lead with 5:37 to go, but Brooklyn turned that deficit into a six-point lead after three straight three-pointers in the final minutes. Crabbe made two of those to close out his 25 points on the night.
Apparently Crabbe was a bit under the weather too, but who could tell. He helped Brooklyn beat the Bucks for the first time in their last 11 matchups. The Jason Kidd curse is gone.
The Bucks are a playoff team, and the Nets put up an encouraging W on a season-high 54.7 percent shooting to mess up Milwaukee’s seeding, and that was without DeMarre Carroll or Dante Cunningham. Classic Nets.
After the first half, it was clear Brooklyn had the chops to win this one. After the first 24 minutes, the Nets held a lead as large as nine and shot 9-of-22 from three. To finish the game, the Nets ended up shooting 19-of-39 from three (48.7 percent).
Those strengths held true for Brooklyn throughout the game, finding success by sharing the ball. The Nets recorded 30 assists on 41 field goals against Milwaukee, led by six each from Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie.
Heading into Thursday’s game, the Nets were seventh in the league since the All-Star Break with 25.4 assists per game. This game bumped that up a notch.
But that unselfish nature led to mistakes. The Nets let the Bucks score 19 points off 20 turnovers on the night — a few of those coming in the final minutes.
As the Bucks made fewer mistakes in the second half, the game became a see-saw. With 11 lead changes and 12 ties, it was unclear who would be the victor with five minutes to go.
The question became if the Nets could close out a game — which is, you know, the norm.
Jarrett Allen and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson made the Bucks work in the paint, leading the team in a crazy 12 blocks. Allen had a career-high five blocks, which is just unfair. Allen and RHJ made Giannis Antetounmpo and Jabari Parker work for what they got, and that gave Brooklyn a chance.
With two minutes left, it all came down to who could make threes, and the Nets were unconscious. Brooklyn went on a 13-2 run to gain an eight-point lead with under a minute to go, and that’s thanks to a 5-of-10 performance from three for Crabbe.
The Bucks failed to hit some key shots following Brooklyn’s run, and the Nets finished this one out.
Khris Middleton put up 31 points for the Bucks, but the Nets had their heroes. Joe Harris had a big night as a starter and D’Angelo Russell got the Nets off to a hot start.
Like Crabbe said post-game on YES Network, it was next man up. That led to redemption for Brooklyn to get a win against Milwaukee and to make up for the past two losses.
Playoff spoiler Nets are the best Nets, no matter the season.
Joe Harris Shooting Guard
17 PTS, 6-8 FG, 3-5 EFG, 2-2 FT, 4 REB, 6 AST, 29 MIN
Joe Harris stepped up in the starting lineup today with Carroll out, and his minutes impacted the whole game. He had six assists, zero turnovers and still gave his double-digits in points. Outside his 30+ point game from a few weeks ago, this was arguably Joe’s most impressive performance this season.
Don’t lose him in the offseason, Sean Marks.
D’Angelo Russell Point Guard
22 PTS, 9-16 FG, 4-10 3FG, 0-1 FT, 1 REB, 5 AST, 5 TOV, 29 MIN
Thanks to D’Angelo, the Nets got off to a quick start over Milwaukee with his 13 points in the first quarter. That pace set the tone for the game, and even though he had five turnovers, he gave the Nets the boost they needed in the first half. He wasn’t selfish and kept the ball moving, and that’s progress.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Power Forward
14 PTS, 3-6 FG, 0-1 EFG, 11 REB, 5 AST, 5 TOV, 1 STL, 4 BLK, 37 MIN
Another double-double for RHJ, and add to that five assists and four blocks. Rondae caused headaches for the Bucks all game, and that was fun.
Allen Crabbe Shooting Guard
25 PTS, 8-14 FG, 5-10 3FG, 4-5 FT, 7 REB, 1 AST, 2 TOV, 2 BLK, 20 MIN
All hail King Crabbe.