Frankly, I hesitated on writing really serious game grades for this powerhouse performance between the two Eastern Conference juggernauts, the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers. I mean, think about, if the Nets were to lose, it’d be all memes, just like this:
And if they did win, it’d just be considered taking care of business, right? So, I was torn — live journaling? Poems? Just the regular recap? But before I could even really consider any other option, Brook Lopez made it an easy decision, as he started off a scorching 3-5 from the floor and racked up 9 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, and a block before Kenny Atkinson even went to his bench.
Elsewhere, Jeremy Lin still isn’t a starter, but he’s still buzzing around and making any Net he’s on the court with better. Supporters are getting a bit antsy that Lin isn’t back with the opening lineup yet, but if he’s making Joe Harris and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson better, it’s tough to complain.
Yet, even with the Nets’ 32-point quarter, the Sixers earned 30 of their own and the cellar dwellar race from the basement was officially on.
While Bojan Bogdanovic had to quell his desire to go for 44 points again, the Nets had trouble scoring without Lopez on the floor and the former All-Star and was the only one in double-figures in the first half. Thankfully, it was Isaiah Whitehead that would save the Nets’ behinds until Lopez’s return.
And truthfully… that was about it. Nothing about tonight was new or focused — Lopez was fantastic, the defense was tragic. Lopez had 20 points in the first half, nobody else had more than 9. Lopez had 2 mega blocks, but the Sixers scored 54 first half points.
You’ve been here, they’ve been here, let’s just get to the meat of it all.
With 8 minutes left in the third quarter, Whitehead finally joined Lopez in the double-digits club, but a hot start gave way to some strong minutes from Joel Embiid (33 points) and Ersan Ilyasova (20 points). Even with Justin Hamilton returning from the injury report, he didn’t feature and Luis Scola and Anthony Bennett took turns pacing Lopez — but as the Sixers chipped into a 9-point deficit, the Nets could’ve certainly used more scoring punch off the bench.
But, for once, the Nets survived the third quarter woes, even taking a 3-point lead into the final frame.
Yet, those woes just carried over to the fourth quarter as Embiid, T.J. McConnell, and Dario Saric willed the Sixers to a 6-point lead, their largest of the night yet. Whether it was a sloppy pass from Sean Kilpatrick or Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, or Luis Scola and Brook Lopez struggling with the Philadelphia big man, all the Nets’ former good fortune was gone in a matter of minutes.
Following his 19-point first half, Lopez managed just 3 (!) second half points — which is, uh, nope. But, hey, where he struggled, Lin and Harris were more than willing to pick up the torch. In Harris’ best game of the season, he filled it up from downtown and hit at 5-9 clip, successfully filling in for both Kilpatrick and Bogdanovic at an efficient clip.
But with 2 minutes left in the game, the Nets found themselves down 102-98 and in danger of helping the Sixers snap an 82-game streak of losing when trailing after the third quarter. After a ridiculous non-call against Trevor Booker, a big-time three-pointer from Lin kept the game alive.
Shortly after, Lin stole the ball three times in a minute-second span, but the Nets just came up empty — which is disappointing, considering their two, three, and four great looks at the lead. A pair of free throws from Embiid would push the lead to three and a whole bunch of free throws laters would ice it — despite some debauchery of the final inbound of the game.
The Nets have lost to the Philadelphia 76ers.
The stats: 19 PTS, 7-13 FG, 5-9 3PT, 2 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 2 TOV
Best game of the year for Joe Harris.
The stats: 22 PTS, 6-14 FG, 9 REB, 8 AST, 1 STL, 4 BLK
The Dr.Jekyl and Mr. Hyde version of Brook Lopez reared its ugly head again tonight in Philadelphia. After 19 first half points, Lopez would score just 3 the rest of the way.
Certainly some of the blame falls to the other players and coaching, but it’s still a mystery as of why they struggle to rely on the things that actually work well.
8 assists though is Lopez’s highest tally since 2010 and this must’ve been his first triple-double alert of his career — well done!