The Nets’ home stand got off to a good start on Sunday, with a much-needed 87-83 victory over the visiting Detroit Pistons. It was not pretty, but after some tough losses, the elusive win fit the bill just right for the Nets. Head Coach Lionel Hollins summed it up perfectly postgame.
“It’s really interesting how the league is,” Hollins said, “Last night (at Cleveland) we played great and we lost. Tonight we were very inconsistent and we had maybe an eight or nine minute stretch of playing well, and we come away with a win.”
Thaddeus Young (19 points, 10 rebounds) continued his impressive play, notching his seventh double-double of the season. Last season, in 76 games with Minnesota and Brooklyn, Young reached double digits in rebounding only four times. Coming into the season, rebounding looked to be a glaring flaw for the Nets; so far Young’s 8.7 grabs a game have been invaluable.
Tonight, the Nets (4-13) welcome in the Phoenix Suns (8-9), losers of four straight games before opening a six-game-in-nine-day road trip with a 107-102 victory in Toronto over the Raptors Sunday night. The Suns received 51 points off their bench, including a season-high 20 from ex-Nets forward Mirza “Fearza” Teletovic.
Third-year head coach Jeff Hornacek is trying to get his team back to the level of two seasons ago, when they tallied 48 victories and a playoff berth. Last year, in large part to a shuffling roster and disarray, the Suns suffered through a 39-43 season; the team’s optimal potential has yet to reveal itself this season.
What the Suns can do is play fast and score. They lead the league in possessions per 48 minutes at 100.4, and rank third in points at 106.2. The backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight has combined to average 44.1 points and 11.8 assists per game. Other than those two, there’s no telling what players will emerge on a given night, as reflective of Hornacek’s ever-changing rotations. Second-year small forward T.J. Warren has been the biggest contributor off the bench, averaging 12.7 points on 53.7 percent shooting.
Markieff (not Marcus) Morris is having a similar season to his twin brother that visited Barclays Center on Sunday. Starting all 17 games, Morris is averaging 12.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, but shooting only 39.7 percent.
Center Tyson Chandler, playing his first season in Phoenix, missed the game in Toronto with a hamstring injury and is questionable for tonight’s game. The 15-year veteran is averaging 5.5 points and 8.8 rebounds in 24.1 minutes.
What to watch for: The return of FEARZA! After averaging just two points in a little over seven minutes per game the first seven games, Mirza Teletovic has gone on a scorching tear for the Suns, mostly behind the arc. In his last ten games, Teletovic has shot a fiery 28-for-60 (46.7 percent) from three point range, including 6-for-7 in Toronto on Sunday. His newly defined role as long-range sniper seems to suit the fourth-year forward, who was caught out of position many times in three years with the Nets. Teletovic was streaky during his three seasons in Brooklyn, but was always liked for a variety of reasons. The once fan favorite should be well received from the home crowd tonight.
Tip-off is at 7:30 EDT at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.