The Nets take on Booker, Bledsoe, and the young Suns.
Opponent: Phoenix Suns
Time: 9:00pm EST
Location: Talking Stick Resort Arena
Watch: YES Network/Fox Sports GO
Listen: WFAN 660AM 101.9FM
The Brooklyn Nets will look to land their first road victory of the year as they face the Phoenix Suns (3-6) after a long homestand. The Nets need a short-term memory after being outscored 60-31 in the second half against the New York Knicks on Wednesday, the loss of Jeremy Lin, Isaiah Whitehead, and Greivis Vasquez officially bubbling over. Although the Nets were playing the second half of a back-to-back, losing a double-digit lead to your cross-river rivals is disappointing no matter how you slice it. After scoring just a handful of buckets in a Nets-dominated first half, Carmelo Anthony caught fire and tallied 14-straight points in a Knicks’ run that the visitors wouldn’t recover from.
Between Brook Lopez and Justin Hamilton, who each scored 21 points, the two big man tried to lead the scoring charge, but it wasn’t enough as Bojan Bogdanovic and Sean Kilpatrick combined to shoot an abysmal 4-18. Aside from the two aforementioned centers, all other Nets failed to reach double figures, with Joe Harris and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson each topping out at 8 a piece. So, in any uncertain terms, it just wasn’t good enough to beat the Knicks, or any other professional team in general.
Alas, they move on:
The Suns won their last game 107-100 over the Detroit Pistons, who, coincidentally, are one of the teams the Nets have also defeated. Phoenix started the season poorly, but they’re 3-2 in November and, with Alex Len starting in place of Tyson Chandler, now sport a lineup with the average age of 22.5. Per usual, the Nets will have their hands full defending the Phoenix backcourt anchored by Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, and Devin Booker — especially without Whitehead (concussion) — once again. Bledsoe is averaging 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists per game and Booker has exploded for 38 and 39-point performances already this season.
So, in other words, buckle up.
3 Things to Watch for in Nets-Suns:
1. Brook Lopez’s minutes
Lopez hardly played in Wednesday night’s third quarter and by the time he was back, the Knicks had sapped all the momentum and energy out of the Nets’ well-executed first half. Yes, they’ve been careful with Lopez’s minutes, but after two full days off, one could moderately expect for Kenny Atkinson to unleash the beast. As we’ve seen so far this season, the Nets will go as far as Lopez can carry them himself.
2. Can Alex Len slow down the Lopez/Hamilton duo?
Tyson Chandler will miss his third-straight game due to personal reasons, so the paint-controlling onus will fall on Len once again. Len’s game log has been a mixed bag this season — 8/7, 3/0, 13/5, 5/11, etc — but he put up 16 points and 14 boards against Andre Drummond and the Pistons in the NBA veteran’s stead.
Elsewhere, Hamilton had, perhaps, the best game of his NBA career against the Knicks, dropping 21 points on 5 three-pointers. He didn’t have much luck rebounding-wise, but if he can drag Len out towards the arc, the Nets will like their chances under the rim against Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender, two rookies.
3. Will we see more Randy Foye?
Randy Foye has been limited since returning from injury, averaging just 14.5 minutes in his two games this season. Although he’s not going to win a game for the Nets, he’s a steady hand at their suddenly barren guard positions. As Yogi Ferrell and Sean Kilpatrick will need to relentlessly chase the speedy guards, Foye’s ability to spell the young guns will go a far way towards winning this game for the Nets.