Nets bounce back against the Wizards, 115-104

A-

Final: 11/16/2018

W 115 – 104

Dinwiddie 2

The Brooklyn Nets looked to stop their slide down the standings, following three-straight losses after starting 6-6. In an attempt to bounce back from recently-disheartening performances, the fans were hoping for a strong showing against the Washington Wizards, one of the few teams below the Nets in the conference hierarchy.  Despite their 2-9 start, a three-game winning surge had been keyed by the return of Dwight Howard. Given the loss of Caris LeVert, the Nets needed to take care of business against struggling teams like Washington.

Instead, the Nets came out of the gate looking lethargic. They committed four quick turnovers in the first five minutes and D’Angelo Russell was the only player able to create on offense, putting up 13 points in nine minutes. This prompted head coach Kenny Atkinson to make a drastic substitution, bringing in five new faces in an attempt to bring the team back to life. Those important second frame shifts included significant minutes for rookie Rodions Kurucs, who had mostly played in fourth quarters so far this season.

The lineup change proved very effective as the bench unit outscored the Wizards’ 35 to 13 to take a slim two-point lead into halftime. The sudden trouncing was primarily led by Spencer Dinwiddie who finished the night on top with 25 points. The strong efforts from Russell and Dinwiddie in the first half covered for weak shooting performances from Joe Harris, Jared Dudley, and Allen Crabbe as the trio struggled for a combined 0-for-9 from deep.

Once those shooters found their stroke in the third quarter, however, the Nets began to blow open the lead. They wouldn’t look back for the rest of the contest after outscoring the Wizards by 10 in the third quarter and only added to it in the fourth. It was nearly a complete turnaround from their game against the Miami HEAT on Wednesday, surprisingly enough. While there was a good deal of individual defensive mistakes, the overall effort was consistent and effective — maybe they should play the Wizards every night then.

If the Nets can keep up this level of cohesion and effort without LeVert, then the season may not be lost just yet. Brooklyn’s game tomorrow night at home against the Los Angeles Clippers will be a good benchmark against a soaring, overachieving playoff contender out west. Can the Nets come out strong like they did tonight against the Wizards, or will they revert to their poor performance against the Heat?

Only time will tell.

D'Angelo Russell

A-

The stats: 23 PTS, 8-16 FG, 1-4 3PT, 3 REB, 6 AST, 2 STL, 4 TO

D’Angelo Russell’s game looks really pretty when it’s clicking…

And, boy, was it clicking tonight.

Russell was the only starter who played at a high level from the get-go, thankfully, as he saved the Nets from another disastrous start. Once the rest of the team woke up, his play looked even better and he was able to distribute in crafty ways to engage his teammates, such as this baseline pass to DeMarre Carroll.

Rodions Kurucs

B

The stats: 9 PTS, 4-8 FG, 1-2 3PT, 3 REB

Rodions Kurucs is already looking like another of Sean Marks’ signature value picks.

Putting Kurucs into the game early on was the perfect cure for the Nets’ lackadaisical play. The Latvian forward honestly plays like he has bees in his shorts and I swear that’s not a weird thing to say. Kurucs never stops hustling while on the court and it’s clear why Atkinson is keen to give him more playing time. It also doesn’t hurt that he fits very well into the run-and-gun offense of Brooklyn. The ankle injury might have set him back, but he’s here to stay.

Spencer Dinwiddie

A

The stats: 25 PTS, 8-13 FG, 3-5 3PT, 4 REB, 8 AST, 3 STL, 1 TO

It’s hard to overstate Spencer Dinwiddie’s importance for this team off the bench.

He brought the intensity and energy that the starters were sorely lacking, switching things up completely for the second unit. Dinwiddie consistently makes the smart play, thus making him the go-to ballhandler in tight late-game situations. The only thing missing tonight was more playing time alongside Russell — that, of course, should come in time. His first-half performance was incredible — the man is an absolute animal.

Jarrett Allen

B+

The stats: 16 PTS, 5-11 FG, 6 OREB, 12 REB, 1 STL, 2 BLK, 0 TO

This game was a perfect example of how far Jarrett Allen has already come in this league.

Fans who watched the team last year might remember — if your brain hasn’t blocked it out — the traumatic night that Dwight Howard put up a historic 30 points and 30 rebounds on the Nets. While there was a lingering fear that onlookers might be subject to the sequel tonight in Washington, Allen proved just how much he has grown as a player in his sophomore season.

His defensive presence around the rim has vastly improved and the stats support this as opponents shoot some of lowest field goal percentages around the rim against Jarrett Allen. The fro’d assassin has also expanded his offensive game and become harder to guard, a sight for sore eyes, and he finished with the third-highest point total on the team tonight. Of note, all of these improvements left him with the best plus-minus on the team at plus-13. The sky is the limit with this guy, sheesh.

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