If the Brooklyn Nets saw Monday’s box score between the New Orleans Pelicans and New York Knicks, then they breathed a collective sigh of relief prior to Thursday’s game vs New Orleans. Anthony Davis, the Pelicans star power forward, coming off a forty point, eighteen rebound effort vs the Knicks did not dress in the first meeting of the season between the teams. To say Davis is the engine that moves the Pelicans is an understatement, as Davis has lead New Orleans in scoring in the last ten games.
While the Pelicans were missing their power forward, Brooklyn saw theirs return as Trevor Booker returned to the lineup after missing the Nets game vs Atlanta Tuesday with a left hip contusion.
The teams will face off just once more this season, and it comes in just over a week. Eight days from now, the Nets and Pelicans will face off in New Orleans, the home of this year’s NBA All-Star game, (#NBAvote Jeremy Lin) to help send Lin there. New Orleans sits at 2-3 in their last five games, with all three losses coming in a row, sandwiched by a pair of wins vs the Knicks.
The Nets had lost seven in a row, which tied the record for the longest losing streak in the NBA this season, with five of those losses in deficits of ten or more points. Brooklyn was still looking for their first win of 2017, with the last victory coming back on boxing day against the Charlotte Hornets. Remember Randy Foye’s game winner, that game.
The third quarter Nets showed up in the fourth quarter instead, as Tyreke Evans was unstoppable in the frame, and the Nets couldn’t hang onto the ball if their lives depended on it. New Orleans completed the New York sweep, as they walked into Barclays Center without their all-star and handed the Nets an eighth straight loss 104-95
Defense was non-existent on either side in the first quarter, as New Orleans held a 35-31 lead after twelve minutes. The Pelicans, without their star, shot sixty percent from the field and five of eight from three. Brooklyn was around sixty percent shooting for much of the quarter, but fell to forty-six to end the frame. New Orleans’ Jrue Holiday scored a game-high ten points, while Bojan Bogdanovic lead the Nets with eight.
Trevor Booker dunking on Omer Asik pic.twitter.com/aosp69c2Ns
— The Brooklyn Game (@TheBKGame) January 13, 2017
Brooklyn started the second on a 6-0 run, and put together another 8-0 run mid-quarter as they doubled up New Orleans 16-8 in the first seven minutes of the frame. As it turned out the Nets defense wasn’t absent from the game, it just arrived a little late, forcing the Pelicans into 6/23 shooting in the period. The Nets outscored New Orleans by a 26-16 margin, turning a four-point deficit into a six-point halftime lead. Jrue Holiday lead all scorers with thirteen, and Brook Lopez had a Nets high eleven.
The game was in striking distance for both sides for the entirety of the first half, with the biggest lead of night being Brooklyn’s with eight, New Orleans lead by as many as four. With Anthony Davis out of the lineup, the Nets took the ball to the rim with ease in the first half, outscoring the Pelicans in both points in the paint (34-20) and second-chance points (11-4).
Nets fans have held their breath in anticipation of the third quarter all season long. They have the worst net rating (-6.2) by almost four points to twenty-ninth place Minnesota (-2.9) and trimmed that margin down Thursday. Both teams scored twenty-two, so the Nets carried a 79-73 lead to the fourth quarter. Both Brook Lopez and Sean Kilpatrick lead the Nets with fifteen points, Bogdanovic and Caris LeVert added ten of their own.
The Pelicans started the fourth on an 8-3 run to trim the Nets lead to 82-81 with more than nine minutes to go in the game. Tyreke Evans forced Joe Harris into fouling him on a three, then connected on an and-1 later in the frame. Evans scored 29 points off the bench in the game. New Orleans went on an 8-0 run late in the fourth to take a 99-94 lead with 1:41 remaining as the Nets called timeout after a Terrance Jones open dunk. Isaiah Whitehead never returned after leaving the game with a strained left knee in the third quarter, and Sean Kilpatrick took over at point guard, where things unraveled. The Nets turned the ball over down the stretch and threw away a very winnable game against a western conference non-playoff team without one of the best power forwards in the league, falling 104-95
New Orleans finished the game on an 11-1 run to take over and outscored Brooklyn 31-16 in the quarter. Brook Lopez scored a Nets high of twenty points, but also turned the ball over six times, while New Orleans was lead by the bench contributions of Tyreke Hill’s twenty-nine and Terrance Jones’ twenty-four.
The stats: 20 PTS, 9/17 FG, 6 REB, 3 AST, 1 BLK, 1 STL, 6 TOV
Brook Lopez likely would have drawn the assignment of Anthony Davis on both ends of the floor, so he took advantage of his opportunity versus Omer Asik and Alex Ajinca with Davis out. Lopez shot just 1/5 from three in the game, but took his game inside and grabbed six rebounds. Turnovers down the stretch killed the Nets game, and Lopez had a team high six of them.
The stats: 10 PTS, 4/8 FG, 3 REB, 1 AST, 0 BLK, 2 STL, 0 TOV
How can you not love Caris LeVert? The rookie scored eight points in the first half including jumping into the passing lane on a Pelicans inbound, taking it the length of the floor and drawing free throws. LeVert is becoming more comfortable with the NBA speed and skill, as he has shot the ball more consistently. The rookie could grow into a lengthy stat sheet stuffer, while still being able to defend. Take a good look fans, because he could be the future of this franchise.
The stats: 15 PTS, 6/10 FG, 2 REB, 2 AST, 0 BLK, 0 STL, 0 TOV
Joe Harris had the jumper going on Thursday, shooting — percent starting at shooting guard. Harris sliding into the starting lineup and contributing, has allowed Kilpatrick to come off the bench and provide from there, a much more comfortable role. Harris averaged 2.5 points in two years with Cleveland, but he can score.