Just one day after suffering a tough loss to the Orlando Magic, the Brooklyn Nets returned home to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers. Without Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn still managed to come out on top. Against the Cleveland freaking Cavaliers, at that.
The Nets looked all out of sync early on in the game. They missed their first four shots, including some easy layups. Maybe just judging from the matchup and the fact that the Nets had played the previous night, you thought the game would be ugly. Well, if you thought that, you were not wrong for the first five minutes of the game, as the team only scored two points.
Their dry spell soon broke, however, thanks to two three-pointers by DeMarre Carroll. Allen Crabbe and Trevor Booker added to this 12-2 Nets run, as Brooklyn went on to take a 16-15 lead. (BY THE WAY, RONDAE HOLLIS-JEFFERSON BLOCKED LEBRON JAMES. YES, THAT HAPPENED.)
Caris LeVert also had a couple of nice moves in the first after blowing an easy layup of his own. The Nets, shockingly (or maybe not if you never doubted them), still held a 26-23 advantage after the first 12 minutes.
Brooklyn once again started off slow in the second period, missing their first six shots. Fortunately, the Cavs also struggled to score, with the fast pace the Nets normally play at dwindling more by the second. It was a back-and-forth, tight affair for most of the quarter, with a few notable highlights, including this LeBron James hammer. All of the Nets just stepped out of the way to let him have that one. Ouch.
Still, at halftime, Brooklyn had a slight 55-52 edge. Yes, without Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell.
Plus, this may be unusual for the Nets, but they were not the team struggling with turnovers. Through two quarters, Brooklyn only committed four turnovers, while Cleveland turned the ball over 13 times.
Out of the locker rooms, the Nets continued off their first half momentum. Crabbe, after shooting only 1-of-7 from downtown the prior night, knocked down two consecutive triples in the third. Brooklyn was up by as much as 13 points in the quarter and held a sizable 84-73 lead entering the final period.
Things started getting out of control for the Nets toward the beginning of the fourth, as a couple of treys from the Cavs sparked an 8-0 run and brought Brooklyn’s lead down to 87-81. The brief run was silenced by another trey by Joe Harris though, and Brooklyn quickly went back up by double digits.
Unfortunately, another large Cavs run (10-0), guided by the notorious LeBron James and Jeff Green, brought Cleveland within one point. Great time for the Nets to take a timeout, right? (They did.)
One minute later though, Cleveland notched its first lead for the first time in what felt like forever, thanks to a Kevin Love shot from behind the arc. Thirteen. Unanswered. Points. The Nets found themselves in another nail-biter.
Much of the remainder of the game appeared almost like a three-point clinic, with each team responding to one another. A trey from Spencer Dinwiddie tied the game at 100. Kyle Korver answered with another one. Carroll did, too. Knotted up at 103.
With 1:15 to go, the Nets could not get the ball inbounds, and turned it over on a five-second call. That luckily did not prove to be too fatal, as a Dinwiddie three-pointer and a Hollis-Jefferson layup in transition brought Brooklyn back up by four. What followed was probably the craziest 43 seconds of the entire season.
The Nets had so many chances to seal the deal in the final 43 seconds, but a missed free throw each by Carroll and Hollis-Jefferson, as well as a missed pair of free throws by Booker kept the Cavs within breathing distance. Fortunately, LeBron was not particularly keen at hitting his free throws either, and the Nets did just enough (thanks Spencer) to squeeze out of this one with the victory.
The stats: 18 PTS, 7-16 FG, 3-9 3PT, 1-2 FT, 7 REB, 4 STL, 1 TO
DeMarre Carroll is not a salary dump! DeMarre Carroll is not a salary dump! DeMarre Carroll is not a salary dump! OK, I hope saying it three times drills it in your head.
The stats: 19 PTS, 5-12 FG, 2-2 3PT, 7-8 FT, 6 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 3 BLK, 4 TO
The stats: 10 PTS, 5-14 FG, 0-5 3PT, 4 AST, 3 TO
We forgive you for your blown layup in the first, Caris, because you had a decent night otherwise. It’s too bad you couldn’t join the three-point party, though.
The stats: 19 PTS, 6-14 FG, 4-10 3PT, 3-3 FT, 2 REB, 3 AST
It’s a miracle! Allen Crabbe’s shooting stroke is back! Just kidding on the miracle part, but yes, he’s got the hot hand again.
The stats: 11 PTS, 4-9 FG, 3-7 3PT
Joey Buckets has come up pretty big for the Nets, even if his name isn’t tossed around as much. Four knocked down field goals, with three of them being shots from downtown? I’ll take that any day.
The stats: 22 PTS, 7-13 FG, 4-8 3PT, 4-4 FT, 5 REB, 6 AST, 2 TO
That Spencer Dinwiddie three with 43 seconds remaining and the final two free throws pretty much sealed the deal, so enough said. “Under control,” as Ian Eagle put it.