Here we are, after eighteen games and the Nets have finally won two in a row.
That’s a winning streak and, boy, does it feels good.
Despite seven first quarter turnovers, the Nets lead at the half 51-42 thanks to the quality chemistry between Brook Lopez and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and a couple of highlight reel plays from Thomas Robinson. On the night of Mirza Teletovic’s return to Brooklyn, one of the Nets’ most popular bench players over the last three seasons, it was the new reserve member in Robinson that stole the show. Following a chase-down block on Suns’ rookie Devin Booker, Robinson corralled a loose ball and released the Nets’ most emphatic slam of this early season.
But, in the second half, the wheels fell off rather quickly and those initial good feelings were erased by the blurs of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, joined by a couple signature Teletovic three-pointers along the way. Phoenix, who came into tonight’s game ranked 26th in OPP at 105.2, locked Brooklyn down in the third quarter and took at the lead at the buzzer on an absurd Bledsoe step-back, fadeaway three.
It looked like one of those games that would slip away in typical Nets fashion, but the combined efforts of Shane Larkin and Wayne Ellington were determined to not let that happen. That leaky third quarter defense that allowed 31 points suddenly tightened up and they scrapped their way to another exciting finish. With a chance to ice the game with five seconds left, Lopez bricked an ugly shot off the backboard, but the Suns couldn’t get a shot off with four seconds left as Jack poked it away from Knight.
Two in a row with the Knicks on the horizon? Yes, please.
The stats: 23 PTS, 10-20 FG%, 6 RBS, 2 ASTS, 1 BLK, 2 TOs
Without Tyson Chandler anchoring the already poor Phoenix defense, Brook Lopez was tasked with scoring on Alex Len, which he did in absolute spades. Len is no defensive slouch, but without Chandler’s fifteen years of experience, there were just far too many ways for Lopez to score.
On a night where Thaddeus Young struggled, Lopez’s efforts fueled the Nets’ improved second half effort. All in all, a nice little warm-up before the Lopez twins battle on Friday across the river.
The stats: 12 PTS, 4-9 3-PT%, 5 RBS
After three seasons with the Nets, Mirza Teletovic returned to Brooklyn for the first time since leaving for Phoenix over the summer.
Although Lopez absolutely destroyed him on the two possessions he was guarded by the Bosnian sharpshooter in the first half, Teletovic hit back with two three-pointers in the Suns’ hot third quarter — but that’s not important.
Last January, Teletovic checked himself out of a game in Los Angeles due to shortness of breath; later, he was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs. The potentially-life changing condition shocked the fanbase and Teletovic missed every game from February to April, unsure if he’d ever wear a Nets jersey again.
Medically cleared and healthy, it’s always nice to see him hit a couple of three-pointers, even if it’s against the guys in black and white now.
Welcome home, Mirza.