The Philadelphia 76iers started tonight hungry to win their first road game, but the Brooklyn Nets were determined to let them starve. Ultimately, this game was the embodiment of ‘Brooklyn Grit’.
But to say that the game began ugly would be a total understatement.
The Nets couldn’t buy a basket, shooting 5-28 in the first quarter — a dismal 18 percent from the floor. Brooklyn also struggled to contain the Sixers’ potent offense, giving them 24 shots at the free throw line by halftime.
At the same time, however, the Nets forced 17 turnovers, allowing them to actually take the lead even as their shots failed to fall. The main reason that they didn’t carry a double-digit lead into the second half was the rebounding differential, 31-14 in favor of the Sixers.
After the break, the Nets shot a much higher percentage, especially in the paint. Sparked by D’Angelo Russell, they found an offensive groove to bust open the lead, even scoring 41 points in the third quarter — a season-high. Bucking the recent trend, the third was their strongest showing in quite some time.
In the end, Brooklyn suffocated the Sixers for the remainder of the game and, most importantly, never gave them a way back in. While the Sixers did grab more rebounds by the final buzzer, the Nets were the ones dominating in the paint, outscoring the Sixers 70-40. That huge gulf, combined with 39 points on 28 turnovers, pushed the Nets well over the top.
The Sixers may eat against most teams, but not tonight against the Nets.
The stats: 20 PTS, 8-20 FG, 1-3 3PT, 5 REB, 2 AST, 4 STL, 2 TO
Caris LeVert continues to ball out — nothing new here.
While he started off slow with the rest of the team, he was the first to consistently find the bottom of the net. He put the team on his back to carry them through the bumpy first half. LeVert continued his string of impressive performances, even if he did cool down slightly in the second half.
The stats: 5 PTS, 2-9 FG, 1-6 3PT, 1 REB, 2 STL, 1 TO
Allen Crabbe had a rough night, to say the least.
Though he played the second most minutes in the first half, he failed to produce much of anything, only a pair of steals and fouls. He had a plus-minus of minus-1 in a half where the Nets outscored the Sixers by 4.
Hopefully, he can find his shot from beyond the arc in future games.
The stats: 21 PTS, 10-21 FG, 1-6 3PT, 2 REB, 6 AST, 1 STL, 1 TO
D’Angelo Russell made it happen tonight.
He was the catalyst of the Nets’ 11-0 run in the third quarter that blew the game open. He routinely made pinpoint passes to the open man in rhythm and took much-improved care of the ball from previous games. His midrange game was also potent as he got shots off before Joel Embiid was able to contest. If the Nets get this version of Russell every night, they’ll be strong moving forward.
The stats: 15 PTS, 5-7 FG, 10 REB, 1 STL, 2 BLK, 0 TO
Jarrett Allen came ready to battle.
He was not afraid to go toe-to-toe with Joel Embiid, even after being pushed around in the paint early on. He aggressively hunted down putbacks and easy lay-ins, while also effectively crashing the glass, grabbing five offensive rebounds.
The stats: 21 PTS, 9-14 FG, 6 REB, 3 AST, 0 TO
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson easily notched his best performance of the season yet.
While he was super efficient on offense, his greatest impact was arguably on the defense end. He even played some minutes at the five against Embiid in a small-ball lineup. When everything was said and done, Hollis-Jefferson posted the highest plus-minus of the night at plus-27.