The Nets headed into Wednesday’s home matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers on a four-game losing streak, the longest of the season. The team’s previous three games saw Brooklyn trailing by as many as 20 points in each game. Coming after a poor effort against the Knicks on Tuesday, Brooklyn finally returned home, debuting their new “City Edition” jerseys.
Brooklyn started off the game much like their previous losses – in a hole. The team’s defense struggled early, with the offense again looking stagnant to match with no stop to Philly’s attack. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons were thorns in the Nets’ side early, scoring 9 and 10 points respectively. The Nets were able to bring the gap to 4 at the end of the first, with D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie converting at the free throw line.
The second quarter started with D’Angelo Russell taking over, scoring and distributing to give the Nets a quick lead. He sank three straight three-pointers, igniting the Barclays Center crowd.
He's just getting started. https://t.co/ixrxIBOEz0
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) February 1, 2018
But keep in mind the Nets’ damage came with Simmons and Embiid on the bench. With the two on the court, Philly would take back control. For example, Simmons threw down a LeBron-esque hammer and toyed with the Nets’ defense en route to 18 first half points.
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) February 1, 2018
But the Nets kept the pace through teamwork. Brooklyn headed into halftime down one, 65-64 against the 76ers. To combat Embiid and Dinwiddie, Brooklyn was led by 17 and 14 from the playmaker duo of Russell and Dinwiddie.
Brooklyn was able to keep up with Philadelphis for most of the third quarter. Strong shooting helped the Nets keep pace, with Quincy Acy and Allen Crabbe looking comfortable on the perimeter. Jarrett Allen did this against Joel Embiid too…
.@_bigjayy_ is doing it all tonight 💪
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) February 1, 2018
Former Sixer Jahlil Okafor played some nice minutes in the third quarter, showing more and more confidence and comfort. He also played solid defense against Embiid. Also off the bench, D’Angelo Russell continued to play the best basketball since his return. Brooklyn finished the third quarter on a strong 11/18 shooting, but still only holding a narrow lead over the 76ers.
Brooklyn and Philly continued to trade baskets and leads in the fourth quarter. With about 7:00 left in the fourth, Brooklyn took a 10-point lead with an 11-0 run. But the Sixers continued to chip away, going tit-for-tat with their opponents. Joel Embiid was fed, muscling his way through the Nets defense – the lead was within six to close the game.
With a minute left, Quincy Acy notched a huge block after Jarrett Allen lost the ball under the rim. DeMarre Carroll sank free throws to maintain the Nets’ cushion. Brooklyn was able to secure defensive stops in the clutch, notching the win 116-108.
For the Nets, it was their first Atlantic Division win of the season. It also snapped a four-game losing streak for the Nets, with many positive signs on the second half of the back-to-back. With Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert still out, it was a strong win against a playoff (and Super Bowl) hungry Philadelphia team.
The stats: 22 PTS, 8-15 FG, 2-5 3FG, 16 MINS
D’Angelo Russell is back (hopefully.) In hands down his best game since his return, Russell got hot in the second quarter, making five shots in a row, and even sinking a heat check three to give the Nets the lead and make the Barclays crowd erupt. Russell continued his strong play in the second half, with seemingly everything he did causing genuine excitement. While he may still be on a minutes restriction, Russell looks like he’s regained the touch.
The stats: 16 PTS, 5-6 FGM, 12 REBS, 5 OREBS
Jarrett Allen continues to be Mr. Efficient for the Nets. In only his second start, Allen held his own, notching a double-double. He even tried (keyword “tried”) his best to defend Joel Embiid throughout the game. While the rookie’s 18 made field goals streak may have been snapped during the third quarter, Allen continues to impress even against the NBA’s best competition.
The stats: 27 PTS, 13-15 FTM, 4 ASTS, 33 MINS
Dinwiddie stepped up, yet again. In a close game, Dinwiddie was decisive and attacked. He drew contact inside and outside, sinking his free throws when needed. In the fourth quarter, Dinwiddie provided some calm for the Nets, controlling the ball. He made the most out of every Nets possession. So can we get Spencer Dinwiddie #NBAVote to be a thing again?