Here’s a story for you tonight: Anthony Davis is a freak. He’s a monster, beast, animal, and the Western Conference’s starting center in next month’s All-Star Game. It’s his fourth selection in four years and he’s currently averaging 28.8 points, 12.1 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game. And he didn’t feature in the Brooklyn Nets’ first competition against the New Orleans Pelicans eight days ago — the Nets still lost that one, despite racking up 50 points in the paint.
But with Trevor Booker and Sean Kilpatrick resting for the night, could the Nets make any negligible difference against the All-NBA stud? The onus then would fall upon the Nets’ youngsters and their growing confidence — Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Isaiah Whitehead, and Caris LeVert — as Lopez was most preoccupied with defending the Brow.
Early on, a blowout looked like it was on the cards after Davis’ easy 10 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists, but a late 8-0 run keyed by Quincy Acy (!) and Caris LeVert (!!), put the Nets down by just 3 points following a Terrence Jones buzzer-beater at the first quarter’s end.
Spurned on by a hot start to the second quarter, Hollis-Jefferson, Whitehead, and Randy Foye all sat at +17 with 7 minutes left in the half, pushing the Nets up as much as 51-40. And, in all honesty, you’re unlikely to break down a Davis-led squad without some superstardom and the Nets leaned on a full team effort as they forced the Pelicans into timeout after timeout.
At the half, the Nets scoring tallied up as such, in perhaps the franchises’ best-shared effort of the entire season: Lopez, 12, Caris LeVert, 10, Randy Foye, 8, Bojan Bogdanovic, 7, Quincy Acy, 7, Hollis-Jefferson, 7, Joe Harris, 5, Justin Hamilton, 4, Spencer Dinwiddie, 4.
The Nets brought some much-desired defensive intensity in the first half, something that certainly stunted the outputs of Tyreke Evans (2-8), Jrue Holiday (2-9), and Buddy Hield (0-1) — so the visitors just needed to outscore the unflappable Davis to take a 66-54 lead into the break.
Oh, but the worrisome third quarter, right? Wrong. I can’t believe how wrong you were! Silly! Keep the faith! The Nets continued cooking with gas through Lopez’s nimble footwork and some three-pointers from Harris and Bogdanovic. Pushing the lead to as much as 20 points and Davis limping, the Nets manufactured some of their best basketball of the entire season.
Lopez cooked from all over the court, the Nets started 19-20 from the free throw line, and they even played like a team with renewed confidence. Once Dinwiddie banked in a three-pointer in the third quarter, it was clear that the Nets would run away with their most impressive victory of the season.
8 players in double-figures! 70 bench points! 50% from three! 32-25 from the line! Acy with 12 points! Where does the madness start and where did it end?! Listen, the Nets are still the last team in the league without double-digit victories, so we’re going to go ahead and enjoy this one:
A+ grades all around, boys, well deserved.
The stats: 23 PTS, 8-15 FG, 8 REB, 3 AST, 3 BLK, 1 TOV
I suppose you can say that Brook Lopez didn’t slow down Davis (22 points, 9 rebounds) — but who can? Lopez did his usual thing on the offensive end and contested enough non-Brow shots to make a valuable contribution in the paint.
Lopez does some insanely nimble stuff — things that seven footers just aren’t built to do, and I’m all about it.
He was never going to body the All-Star, but he helped ensure that if the Pelicans won, it’d be by Davis’ volition alone.
The stats: 8 PTS, 3-5 FG, 2 REB, 3 AST, 0 TOV
Joe Harris was well on his way to a sneaky good Joe-Joe game before an injury in the late second quarter forced him out briefly. His gimpiness didn’t stop him from hitting a second half three-pointer to start things, but he’d sit the rest of the night.
He’s had a tough run as the starting shooting guard, but tonight was a solid effort nonetheless.
The stats: 12 PTS, 4-6 FG, 7 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 3 TOV
The stats: 17 PTS, 6-6 FG, 3-3 3PT, 5 REB, 6 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 3 TOV
Caris LeVert is winning over more Nets fans by the game and tonight was no different. Although he uncharacteristically turned the ball over 3 times, he shot a perfect 6-6 from the floor and chipped into with a little bit of everything.