Close games have defined the 2019-20 Brooklyn Nets’ season. Even when leading late, the Nets have often found a way to let the opposing team back in the game. Brooklyn — to the frustration of Nets faithful — could seemingly never bury its opponent.
Wednesday night was different.
For the better part of four quarters, the Atlanta Hawks did not yield to the superior Nets team. It took Brooklyn until the halfway mark of the fourth quarter to finally snuff out Atlanta’s flame.
Four Nets scored 20+ points on Wednesday — Spencer Dinwiddie, Garrett Temple, Taurean Prince and Jarrett Allen. Temple led the team with 27 points — his career-high as a Brooklyn Net. The starters, single-handily, overwhelmed the Hawks, minus Trae Young’s 39 points. Brooklyn’s starting five combined for 107 points.
Once again, the Nets showed that injuries to key players cannot hold them back of the win column — or the playoff standings.
The Nets struggled early against a woeful Hawks team — who entered the night at 5-16. Since Kyrie Irving went down, Brooklyn’s offensive output has been exclusively on the backs of the five starters. The Nets overcame their early woes behind a 15-point first-half from ex-Hawk Taurean Prince. Atlanta welcomed Prince back with open arms, honoring with a tribute video.
Brooklyn outscored Atlanta 34-21 in the second quarter — giving the Nets a nine-point lead at the half. The Hawks — notably second-year star TYoung — had an answer for nearly every Net basket in the third quarter. Brooklyn’s lead seemed to stabilize between eight and nine points for the majority of the second half. The back-and-forth nature of the third quarter continued until about midway through the fourth.
The Nets played to Atlanta’s biggest weakness — frontcourt strength. Brooklyn out-rebounded Atlanta 53-35. The Nets grabbed 18 offensive rebounds, helping them to a large portion of second-chance buckets.
Atlanta is really missing John Collins — who provides scoring, rebounding, and athleticism. He is a match-up nightmare for opposing forwards, but is suspended 25 games for PED use.
Atlanta shot the ball exceptionally well against the Nets — 53 percent from the field — but still could not overcome the undermanned Nets. The Nets shot well from all areas — 50 percent FG, 45 percent 3PT and 89 percent FT.
With the win, Brooklyn climbed back above .500 (11-10).
The Nets are coming off a disappointing loss to the Miami Heat on Sunday night. Brooklyn outplayed Miami until the final minutes, but the Heat closed the game on a 10-0 run to defeat the Nets.
Irving, sidelined with a shoulder injury, missed his 10th consecutive game on Wednesday. It seems Irving will not return until late December, at the earliest.
Spoke with both multiple #NBA sources and orthopedic specialists. The most optimistic expected Kyrie Irving to be out at least another week or two. Most pessimistic intimated there could be more to this than meets the eye, & more issues down the road. #Nets
— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) December 4, 2019
ICYMI: Kenny Atkinson is now the longest-tenured head coach in New York after the New Jersey Devils fired head coach John Hynes, the previously longest-tenured coach, on Dec. 3.
The Nets will face the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night before heading home for a game against the always tough Denver Nuggets.
The stats: 24 PTS, 10-22 FG, 0-4 3PT, 4-6 FT, 6 REB, 5 AST, 2 STL, 7 TO, 34 MIN
Spencer Dinwiddie has put the team on his back since Irving went down with a shoulder injury.
Dinwiddie’s performances are eye-opening. He simply finds a way to get the job done each game. Without Dinwiddie, the Nets would not be floating around .500.
Dinwiddie struggled to score in the first half, but in typical Dinwiddie fashion, he did not let a poor performance define his game.
Dinwiddie is playing at an All-Star level, and has yet to show signs of slowing down.
The stats: 13 PTS, 5-11 FG, 1-3 3PT, 2-2 FT, 3 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 1 TO
What else can be said of Joe Harris?
Entering tonight’s game against Atlanta, Harris is averaging career-highs across the board (PTS, REB, AST). Not to mention his stellar three-point shooting — 44.2 percent.
Harris was the lone member of the starting five not to reach 20 points, but still played effective and productive minutes.
The Nets can always count on Joe.
The stats: 20 PTS, 8-11 FG, 4-4 FT, 13 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 3 BLK, 1 TO, 28 MIN
Jarrett Allen played one of his worst games in his young career against the Utah Jazz on Nov. 12.
Since then, the Fro took a gigantic — and quite unexpected — leap forward in production and efficiency.
Allen recorded yet another double-double tonight. He asserted his dominance on the glass and in the paint.
JARRETT WITH THE DENIAL 🤚🤚🤚🤚🤚 pic.twitter.com/NaulaZlULh
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) December 5, 2019
Jarrett Allen has proven himself a legitimate force in the NBA.
The stats: 23 PTS, 9-15 FG, 5-7 3PT, 6 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL, 1 TO, 31 MIN
The Utah Jazz drafted Taurean Prince 12th overall in the 2016 NBA draft. Less than a month later, the Jazz traded him to the Hawks in a three-team deal. The trade include Jeff Teague and George Hill. Prince went on to play three seasons as a Hawk — averaging 11.4 PTS, 3.8 REB, 2 AST. He also shot 38 percent from beyond the arc.
In his first game against him former team, Prince came out firing. He scored 15 points in the first half — leading the team.
Prince did not top his scoring output in the second half, but still played efficient minutes on both ends of the floor.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) December 5, 2019
Needless to say, Prince did not experience any homecoming struggles.
The stats: 27 PTS, 10-16 FG, 6-9 3PT, 1-1 FT, 4 REB, 3 AST, 2 TO, 34 MIN
Temple is the prototypical 3-and-D wing that is a staple of any competitive basketball team in the NBA.
Garrett Temple has flourished since entering the starting five for the injured Caris LeVert. Even when LeVert returns, Temple may remain in the starting lineup.
On Wednesday, Temple had his best game as a Net. Temple scored 27 points — his most in Brooklyn. Temple has shown an ability to lead Brooklyn’s offense when Dinwiddie is on the bench, and he is fulfilling the playmaker role that should technically belong to Pinson and Musa.
Performances like these will surely make Temple a mainstay in Brooklyn’s starting five.