Don’t throw your computers out the window just yet — those are not typos! Those are bonafide totals and an absolute dissection of the NBA’s worst defensive team.
18-26 from three. 26 assists, 56% shooting from the field and, best of all, a convincing victory at home.
On the night that was billed as a Brook Lopez-DeMarcus Cousins showdown, it was actually a showdown straight out of 2009 — Rajon Rondo vs. Joe Johnson. En route to a 33-25 lead after one quarter, Johnson was 5-6 from the field with 13 points, 3 threes, and 4 assists. Nearly mirroring him was Rondo, leading the Kings with 11 points, 4 assists, and 2 steals.
After the 6-7 effort from three-point range in the first, the Nets followed it up with the athletic Larkin and Markel Brown forcing the issue in the second, pushing the lead as high as 10. And yet, as the world still turns, the sun still sets, and the Nets’ second unit still plays defense at a subpar level, Brooklyn blew it as Cousins, much like he did in their November matchup, took over.
But, somehow, the usual mistakes were completely neutralized by their scorching streak from downtown, so not only did they hold on to the lead, it grew. The good times kept rolling in the second half and beyond, spurred on by Johnson’s 5-assist, eyes-in-the-back-of-his-head third quarter. Remarkably, the Nets pushed their lead to 20 and scored more than 100 points in three quarters for the first time since December 2013 (per YES Network).
From start to finish, this was a three-point shooting clinic for Brooklyn — hitting a season-high 18, completely mitigating their poor 22-turnover mark. But, believe it or not, the Nets are starting to flesh out the offense here under Tony Brown — as their plays highlighted little screens, movements, and drop-offs that led to great looks and, most importantly, less isolations.
With the Philadelphia 76ers on tap tomorrow, could the Nets be on the verge of another elusive winning streak? If they play like they did tonight, they’ll be a tough out for anybody.
The stats: 26 PTS, 11-21 FG, 12 REB, 3 AST, 1 BLK, 3 TOV
Solid if not spectacular, Lopez proved that he could play the 3rd fiddle with no problem. After a cold 1-6 start, Lopez settled down against Cousins, he collected loose rebounds and feasted whenever Kosta Koufos was defending.
He wasn’t the star of the show, but he was great as usual.