Well, at least Bojan Bogdanovic didn’t want to lose the season series against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Bogdanovic, in perhaps the finest quarter of his NBA career, dropped 17 points on a perfect 6-6 from the floor. He nailed two unconscious three-pointers, backed down smaller players, and outscored the entire 76ers team by a point. Elsewhere, the Nets combined to shoot 5-17, so not only was Bogdanovic’s outburst a luxury, it was an absolute necessity.
However, the Nets were able to hold the beaten-up Sixers (Holmes, Grant, and Covington all were out for Philadelphia) to just 23%, their second-lowest total for an opponent in a quarter all season. Thaddeus Young hauled in 8 rebounds in 10 minutes while also leading the team in assists with 3.
The second quarter reigns were handed over to Markel Brown, Shane Larkin, and Sean Kilpatrick — three speedy guards that gave the defense-deficient Sixers fits. After the Nets fell behind as many as 19 points last Friday, they found themselves ahead by 20 (!!) at many instances before halftime. Larkin’s active hands helped him snag 2 steals, while Brown’s confidence continues to rise and the two paved the way with 8 points each off the bench.
When Bogdanovic finally checked back in with 6 minutes left in the half, he wasted no time pulling the flaming hot trigger. Reminiscent of one of Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, or Mirza Teletovic’s burning hot streaks, Bogdanovic, who didn’t play last week against the Sixers, injected some serious life into this meaningless late-season game.
Let’s be real — there were 10 other Nets players tonight, but there’s really only one thing left worth talking about: Bojan in flames. Permanent flames. Burn down the building flames. Unconscious, unstoppable, and unbeatable flames. As if to say his 24 points were too mortal-like, he tacked on another 14 effortlessly in the third quarter.
Brook Lopez, who we haven’t mentioned over the first 275 words of these grades — a record by my account, rebounded from some early struggles while Sean Kilpatrick continued to fire away. But enough about them, right? Bogdanovic started the fourth quarter after sitting for just 3 minutes and immediately hit one of his classic mid-range flares for 40.
A 9-0 run from Philadelphia and an eerily similar scenario to Sunday’s meltdown against the Milwaukee Bucks had Tony Brown anxious about another potential fourth quarter hiccup. While the Nets ran their offense through Bogdanovic and Kilpatrick, the Sixers cut the lead to just 12 with 6 minutes to go.
However, it just ended up being too much Bogdanovic and Kilpatrick, all capped off by a non-desperation splash via Lopez from behind the arc. Yup, you read that all correctly — this game had everything.
Career nights, a D-League takeover, and one flat-footed three-pointer from the center later, the Nets had evened up the season series against the Sixers.
Take a bow, Bojan, you earned yourself a standing ovation tonight.
The stats: 18 PTS, 7-17 FG, 10 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL
Brook Lopez struggled tonight, but the Nets didn’t need him. Lopez, who started 1-6 from the field, couldn’t get his typical push-bunnies to go against Nerlens Noel. Although his +21 was a team-high in the first half, he didn’t do much more than clean up loose opportunities under the rim.
Thankfully, they were playing Philadelphia. Thankfully, they had Bojan.
C+ for the struggles, A+ for the three + subsequent giddiness = B overall.