The Brooklyn Nets are two games above .500 in mid-January.
Let that sink in.
The Nets are without question one of the Eastern Conference’s most exciting young teams. Today, Brooklyn faced off against the Sacramento Kings — who are equally as fun and equally as youthful as the Nets.
Trailing the Kings at the half, the Nets used a massive third-quarter offensive barrage to silence Sacramento. D’Angelo Russell — coming off a 40-point performance against Orlando — showed no signs of fatigue. His effort this afternoon led the Nets to their fourth consecutive victory.
The Nets — who got off to a dreadful start Friday against Orlando — changed their gameplan to an aggressive attacking style. Brooklyn, particularly Rodions Kurucs, got to the rim at will in the first. The rookie put up eight points in the opening quarter — six of those were in the paint. But the Kings matched Brooklyn’s energy, as the Nets ended the quarter up 29-23.
Both the Kings and the Nets have outstanding scoring benches on the year and, early on, it was much of the same story. The Kings challenged Brooklyn’s Spencer Dinwiddie, DeMarre Carroll, and Ed Davis with Bogdan Bogdanovic, Justin Jackson, and Marvin Bagely Jr. And in the first half, Sacramento outscored Brooklyn’s bench 30-18, partly thanks to their nearly league-leading pace. The Nets, generally the dominators in this statistic, were taken aback by their inability to depend on the bench.
Trailing 60-55 at the half, Brooklyn would need to do a better job contesting Sacramento’s shots as the visitors shot 52% from the field. And despite out-rebounding the Kings by eleven, the Nets held a field goal percentage under 40 — yikes!
However, as we all know by now, a five-point halftime deficit doesn’t scare Brooklyn. And at this point, one could argue that a halftime deficit is preferable to a lead for the Nets.
D’Angelo Russell seems to agree.
The newly-crowned Eastern Conference Player of the Week caught fire in the third, scoring 14 points. Russell powered the Nets to a 93-85 lead at the end of the third — they outscored the Kings 38-25 in the quarter.
Thankfully, the fourth quarter was no different. With a strong defensive effort, Brooklyn buried Sacramento. The Nets allowed nine points in the fourth, propelling them to a 29-point victory margin — 123-94.
Since December 7th, the Nets own the best record in the NBA (17-5).
Sitting at 25-23, the Nets are set to rematch the Magic on Wednesday night in Brooklyn. And if they play as they did this afternoon, a win shouldn’t be hard to come by.
The stats: 31 PTS, 12-25 FG, 7-14 3PT, 4 REB, 8 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 31 MIN
In the absence of Caris LeVert, D’Angelo Russell has established himself as the Nets’ superstar.
His 40-point effort Friday night — including a game-winning three — tied his career high.
After leading Brooklyn to a 3-0 record last week, Russell was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week. The 22-year-old averaged 28 points, seven assists, and shot 53% from deep.
His performance tonight was no different.
Russell scored 31 points — his eighth game this season scoring over 30 — and didn’t turn the ball over once.
If D’Angelo Russell isn’t an All-Star, who is?
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) January 21, 2019
The stats: 11 PTS, 3-12 FG, 1-5 3PT, 4-5 FT, 3 REB, 6 AST, 3 TO, 28 MIN
Over the past two games, Spencer Dinwiddie has found his old self.
And it’s a welcome sight.
This afternoon, Dinwiddie couldn’t quite find his groove on the offensive end. But that didn’t stop him from being effective, as Dinwiddie racked up six assists and finished with a solid plus-16.
Dinwiddie will look to take advantage of Orlando’s much weaker backcourt on Wednesday night.
The stats: 8 PTS, 3-5 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2-2 FT, 12 REB, 1 AST, 4 TO, 23 MIN
After finding his stride late against Orlando, Jarrett Allen sure hoped his success would translate against the Kings.
Spoiler: It did.
The Fro turned in another solid outing, finishing a basket shy of a double-double.
Allen held Willie Cauley-Stein in check, allowing the Sacramento center to grab just six boards.
The stats: 16 PTS, 7-10 FG, 0-2 3PT, 2-2 FT, 2 REB, 1 TO, 23 MIN
Rodions Kurucs looked like he wanted to forget his performance against Orlando — where he scored two points in just 11 minutes of action.
Air Latvia poured in eight points in the first and was under control while driving towards the rim — a facet of his game that has steadily improved this season.
Kurucs played one of his best games of the season this afternoon, and will hopefully make this season’s Rising Stars Challenge.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 21, 2019
The stats: 19 PTS, 8-14 FG, 3-4 3PT, 7 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 1 TO, 29 MIN
Joe Harris needs to be in the three-point contest.
His consistency from beyond the arc continued this afternoon as he poured in 19 points on 3-for-4 from deep.
After going 4-for-13 from the field against Orlando, it’s nice to see Harris bounce back so effortlessly.