Well, credit to the Nets. They certainly made it interesting.
After starting out 3-0 this month, the Nets lost their first game in April, falling to the Orlando Magic on the road, 115-107. The game was tied at 50 at half, and the Nets were cruising with some pretty impressive performances from their guards. But the third quarter woes that have plagued this team for what feels like 500 years reared their ugly head, and the Magic led by 15 going into the fourth. With some help from Jeremy Lin and my boy Caris LeVert, Brooklyn made it interesting and brought the deficit within as much as 7. But it didn’t get any closer. So it goes.
April regular season games for teams no longer in the playoff hunt are interesting for a couple of reasons, especially to teams like Brooklyn. This team has a lot of young players who don’t necessarily get the chance to shine or play starter level minutes. The Nets chose to use this game to give a few of these players a shot and they certainly brought it despite the loss. Particularly, Spencer Dinwiddie and Archie Goodwin showed that they can sling it when needed, and I’ll look forward to seeing how else they can contribute with an increased role entering the last week of the season.
Most notably, though, the Nets saw an absolute monster game from Jeremy Lin, who scored a season high 32 points on 55% shooting (including five threes!). Lin was hitting them from all over the floor. Ever since coming back from injury the end of February, Lin has been consistently great for Brooklyn. It’s been awesome to see.
Losses like these are bummers, especially to bummer teams like the Magic and a bummer performance from Brook Lopez, but I think we all saw flashes of potential for what is to come — from Lin obviously, but also the young rotational guards that will be occupying roster spots in the near future. On to the grades.
Caris LeVert Shooting Guard
20 PTS, 7-12 FG, 1 AST, 4 REB
LeVert went on a tear in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 of his 20 points to try to bring the Nets back from their 15 point deficit. He wasn’t successful, but I’ll always applaud a strong effort. Besides, watching LeVert score on people is just too fun.
Brook Lopez Center
10 PTS, 4-13 FG, 2 AST, 5 REB
Woof. Brook could not score tonight. Just not his night. And you know, I can handle a bad Brook performance — but there’s something about a bad Brook performance where he also bricks numerous three pointers that’s just especially painful.
Jeremy Lin Point Guard
32 PTS, 11-20 FG, 3 AST, 5 REB
It’s fair to say this was Jeremy Lin’s best offensive performance in Nets uniform, right? He was just hitting shots from all over the floor. Cut and drive to the basket for a layup? Nailed it. Mid range jumper? Swish. Long range three? Crushed ’em. This is what we’ve been wanting to see from him all year. My favorite Lin performances are ones where he makes one or two jaw dropping passes, and that didn’t happen tonight. But I can live with it when he drops a clean 32. Well done sir.
Spencer Dinwiddie Point Guard
11 PTS, 4-6 FG, 3 AST, 3 REB
Spencer Dinwiddie hit two extremely memorable threes today and that’s why he made game grades. In the rotation cast of point guards this season, Dinwiddie has found himself a spot in this rotation. Keep it up.
Archie Goodwin Shooting Guard
6 PTS, 3-7 FG, 2 AST, 5 REB
After signing a contract extension yesterday, Goodwin played a fine game, but had the highlight of the day for Brooklyn with a perfect precision pass to Justin Hamilton in the first half.