The lead was down to 13 in the third quarter after the Nets led by as many as 24. Spencer Dinwiddie missed a floater, and the Pelicans had a shot to inch closer.
The ball ended up in Anthony Davis’ hands, who fueled New Orleans’ bursts throughout the game. He went up for a second-chance layup to cut Brooklyn’s lead to 11, but then met Jarrett Allen for the second time that night.
“Oh, the Fro!”
THE FRO ✋✋The Brow pic.twitter.com/KN4EZS0bLZ
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 3, 2019
That block turned into a new ball for Brooklyn, which left Joe Harris’ hands for a surefire three.
Brooklyn’s groove was back right away, the dominant offensive output that was on display from tip-off.
That exchange between Brooklyn and New Orleans was a small display of the various contributions the Nets had in a night the home squad jumped to a 20-point advantage just four minutes into the second quarter. Coming off back-to-back losses and three days’ rest, the Nets showed strengths in ball movement, three-point shooting, lane scoring and, most noticeably, bench contribution.
From the jump, Brooklyn’s bench was stellar. Compared to the Pelicans’ bench, production was not close, as the Nets sported a 55-5 bench advantage. The entrance of the bench squad in the first half is what saw Brooklyn really shoot ahead of New Orleans and stay there throughout the game.
While seven Nets registered double-digits in the game, six of them made at least two three-pointers each. Brooklyn’s three-point shooting was strong suit, posting a 16-31 (51.6 percent) mark as a team.
If the Nets seemed like they could not miss, or if they needed a boost, the three-point shot was there. It was a consistent threat for Brooklyn.
The main force that drove Brooklyn besides its bench was starting man D’Angelo Russell. He showed confidence and poise, handing out eight assists by halftime and recording a double-double four minutes into the third quarter.
In what was at times a game of runs, the Pelicans gave their tests. The Pelicans went on a 15-1 run to cut the deficit to single digits with six minutes left to play. The Nets then went cold and could not find production from the bench.
What came next? A block by Rodions Kurucs on Anthony Davis, a dish from Russell to Harris for a driving bucket. Then after another stop, Harris came up with the second-chance bucket off a missed Russell three.
When contributions can come from all around, Kenny Atkinson is a happy man.
Still, neither Atkinson nor Nets fans could relax through the end of this one, as the Nets nearly blew yet another late lead to the Pelicans.
It was close, but after a season-high 73 points in a half and Lumber Joe consistently coming with the big bucket down the stretch, Brooklyn held on for the win with a team effort.
Davis finished with a monster 34 points and 26 rebounds after nearly leading New Orleans in a comeback.
Coming off a 9-6 December, Brooklyn is undefeated in 2019, 7-1 in its last 8 home games and now has revenge for blowing a late lead to the Pelicans in October.
The Nets would have not won this game a month or two ago.
For those on playoff seed watch: If the Pistons lose to the Grizzlies tonight, the Nets will hold the eighth seed in the East, so cross your fingers.
New year, fresh legs, can’t lose.
The stats: 22 PTS, 9-21 FG, 2-8 3FG, 5 REB, 13 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 35 MIN
D’Angelo Russell put up one of his best nights of the season in terms of both scoring and sharing the ball. From the jump he was distributing and scoring effectively in-rhythm, making his signature elbow jumpers with a rainbow arc and recording his third double-double of the season.
While Russell did not score as easily in crunch time, he found his guy in Joe Harris who helped seal Brooklyn’s win. Russell was the clear leader, got late minutes and found his teammates, and that showed in bounds with his confidence tonight.
As Russell said after the game, “Guys are hungry.”
The stats: 21 PTS, 9-16 FG, 3-4 3FG, 2 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 2 TOV, 29 MIN
If it were not for Joe Harris, the Nets may have lost yet another late lead to the Pelicans. Thankfully for Nets fans, Harris was clutch!
His shots and second-chance buckets put New Orleans’ comeback on ice and gave Brooklyn some wiggle room. It is fun watching Harris work, and is there a reverse off-the-glass layup that he can’t make?
All hail Joe Harris.
The stats: 10 PTS, 3-6 FG, 4-4 FT, 11 REB, 1 STL, 2 BLK, 31 MIN
Put Anthony Davis on Jarrett Allen’s BLOCKED list. Twice!
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) January 3, 2019
Not to mention another double-double for Allen. Anthony Davis is a tough test, but Allen still found his room to shine tonight.
The stats: 6 PTS, 3-3 FG, 0-2 FT, 12 REB, 1 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 17 MIN
Ed Davis was a difference-maker from the start, and he did a little bit of everything with his rebounds, steals and block.
He may not put up as many minutes as his teammates, but Davis arguably played as large of a role as any Net on the court against the Pelicans.
The stats: 18 PTS, 5-12 FG, 2-3 3PT, 6-6 FT, 4 AST, 3 TO, 25 MIN
Russell may have taken on more of an offensive contribution between the two point guards tonight, but Spencer was still there when needed. Whether it was a driving two-handed slam or a three-pointer, Dinwiddie was reliable.
Dinwiddie leading the bench was especially key to Wednesday’s quick start and sustained performance, taking advantage of a weaker Pelicans bench rotation.
The stats: 12 PTS, 5-11 FG, 2-4 3FG, 4 REB, 5 AST, 2 TO, 24 MIN
A to Shabazz for his contributions tonight.
A+ to Ian Eagle for his call of Napier’s “Sha-buzzer beater!”
These are the moments we live for.