The Brooklyn Nets continue to impress in the month of march after a road win against the struggling Atlanta Hawks moved themselves just a win away from five hundred in the month of March (7-8). The Nets first win streak of the season was snapped at just two games in a road loss to Washington but they quickly found themselves back in the win column in a Sunday matinee affair with the shorthanded Hawks.
Atlanta was without three starters in the game, Paul Millsap, Thabo Sefolosha, and Kent Bazemore, but had Long Island Nets assignee Taurean Prince starting at power forward. For the Nets it’s the second devastating loss they’ve handed an Eastern Conference playoff team this week after Brook Lopez walked off the Nets against the Pistons.
Brooklyn jumped out to a hot start as the Hawks looked more primed for a regular seven o’clock game than the one p.m. tip at Phillips Arena. The Nets bench, who had a huge game against the Suns Thursday, came in with the Nets down 14-10, and finished the first quarter on a 22-6 run to finish the quarter, and continued the pace into the second frame, as it turned into a 33-7 streak.
Dwight Howard, one of the premier rebounding bigs in the league feasted in the paint, recording a double double before the half, bringing Atlanta back into the game.
Brooklyn basically cruised to the finish after that, with their bench contributing forty-six, compared to just seven from the Hawks. Of course Atlanta being without three big starters, their normal bench scorers were moved into the starting lineup, but the Nets do deserve credit where it is due. The bench has been good lately, to say the least.
Brooklyn entered the forth up ten, and closed the book on it as Brook Lopez put the Nets up fourteen with under five minutes to go. Lopez entered the game seven off the Nets record for most career field goals, and he took control of the record just like he took control of the game in the latter stages. Lopez passed Buck Williams, who played eight seasons with the Nets in the 1980’s, where as Brook is in his ninth season.
Sunday was Archie Goodwin’s first game of his second ten day contract, he played just six minutes and scored two points. He hit his only shot of the afternoon after blowing past Ersan Illyasova before finishing the layup off glass. Another newish Net that has continued to contribute is K.J. McDaniels, who scored his forth game in a row in double digits, while finishing the game a plus twenty-one (tied with Spencer Dinwiddie and Trevor Booker for Nets high).
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson continues to impress at power forward, grabbing thirteen rebounds and scoring eleven, although he had a rough day from the field. The Hyphen (Ian Eagle trademark) hit three of thirteen, but drilled clutch free throws, five of six on the day to seal the deal.
A causal fan may look at the win and immediately turn to the Hawks missing starters, and no doubt that helped contribute, but the Nets took advantage of the situation, something the team can build one. If the Nets were to fall, it would have been a much more demoralizing loss knowing Atlanta was without their three starters.
The win was just the second road win versus and Eastern conference team this season, with the other at Madison Square Garden, just a short bus ride away.
The Nets return home now for a Tuesday night meeting with Dario Saric and the Philadelphia 76ers where they look to move to 8-8 in the month of March, and pick up their second win streak of the season.
The stats: 23 PTS, 7/17 FG, 7 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 4 TOV
Brook Lopez finished the game with a Nets high twenty-three points, while hitting a pair of three pointers, and seven of his eight free throws. He had a strong day on the offensive side of the ball, but didn’t fare to well defending Dwight Howard, who nearly finished with a twenty-twenty game. Nets fans need not worry about that, Lopez isn’t a great rebounding big anyways, and Howard regularly puts up those numbers. Lopez hit some big shots down the stretch, and that’s exactly what the Nets need from him, someone to go to in crunch time and he slammed the door shut.