Nets show up in Chicago despite missing Irving, LeVert

A-

Final: 11/16/2019

W 117 111

It was all hands on deck for the Brooklyn Nets as they rolled into the windy city on Saturday night to face off against the Chicago Bulls. With both Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert out due to injury, they needed the backups and bench to play at a high level in order to end their five-game road trip on a high note.

Luckily for Brooklyn, Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie came up huge to more than make up for what the team was missing as the Nets ground out the Bulls 117-111.

When the game started, it looked like there had been a mix-up with the feed. It appeared that the 2018-19 Brooklyn Nets had been reborn, with abundant ball movement and pick and rolls getting the whole team involved offensively. Add in excellent ball security, and that combo led to the Nets outscoring the Bulls 30-19 in the first quarter.

But Nets fans could not get too excited — things got a little rocky from then on.

Brooklyn could not stop fouling. Chicago shot nearly 20 more free throws than the Nets before they began to intentionally foul at the end of the game. This also landed much of the roster in foul trouble, giving more opportunities for the depth of the squad to be displayed. In addition, the Bulls were more determined when it came to offensive rebounding, posting a 17-5 advantage throughout the contest.

Those two factors made it hard for Brooklyn to get any real separation, resulting in being out-scored by the Bulls 37-20 in the second quarter and yet another tight game down the stretch.

The difference Saturday night compared to previous contests was a combination of competition and competence. The Bulls are not on the level of the Denver Nuggets or Utah Jazz. The Nets also had more cohesion and flow in their offensive sets.

Brooklyn’s determined defensive effort was somewhat overshadowed by the overzealous fouls, but it was still important. If the Nets are fouling, at least they are trying to some extent, which is more than what can be said for some earlier games.

And boy, did they need that effort. The Bulls refused to go away quietly, hitting back-to-back clutch threes to keep their hopes alive. In a new twist, Brooklyn’s free-throw shooting carried them through to finally put away Chicago and end their road trip 2-3.

This game was not pretty. However, Brooklyn basketball at its core is not meant to be pretty — it is meant to be tough and resilient. Brooklyn basketball is showing up and performing even when missing some of your brothers are missing. While being shorthanded, turning this game around was an important accomplishment for a team needing a boost. 

All in all, it was a good night for Brooklyn basketball.

Joe Harris

A+

The stats: 22 PTS, 8-15 FG, 2-8 3PT, 4 REB, 8 AST, 2 STL, 0 TO

Joe Harris is one of the most underrated players in the league.

It sounds crazy to say that about a player who won the three-point competition at All-Star weekend, but how many players could step up when their superstar point guard goes down and carry their offensive load like Lumber Joe did tonight? And he did it all without turning the ball over once.

Praise be to Joey Jesus.

Jarrett Allen

A

The stats: 11 PTS, 5-5 FG, 7 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 2 BLK, 0 TO

Jarrett Allen has quietly been improving leaps and bounds over the course of this season.

While he did not post an exceptional night in any one area, he was above average at every aspect of the game. He finished with power around the rim, moved his feet well on defense, and took care of the ball in this heavy-motion offense. We’re ready to say it: The Fro is back.

Nicolas Claxton

B+

The stats: 8 PTS, 4-6 FG, 0-2 3PT, 2 REB, 2 AST, 0 TO

Is there anything that Nicolas Claxton can’t do?

If there is, we have not seen it yet.

Spencer Dinwiddie

A

The stats: 24 PTS, 5-11 FG, 0-4 3PT, 1 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 2 BLK, 4 TO

Running the Nets’ offense is like riding a bike for Spencer Dinwiddie.

While he posted the highest-scoring quarter of his career in the fourth with 20 points, he would have had an even more impressive stat line if he had not found himself in early foul trouble. The offense was humming like a well-oiled machine under Dinwiddie’s steady hand, and that same hand is what helped them ice the game when the Bulls began to intentionally foul him in the closing seconds.

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