Nets win streak comes to a screeching halt in D.C. as Wizards dominate

C

Final: 03/24/2017

L 108 129

Two’s a run, three’s a streak, right? The Brooklyn Nets went into D.C. on their first win streak of the season, and winners of five of their last ten. Brook Lopez hit the Nets’ second game-winner of the season in a win over the Pistons, and then they scorched the Phoenix Suns in a 28-point victory last night. Jeremy Lin returned and played well, Isaiah Whitehead showed emotion with a clutch and-one, and we saw a ton of athleticism from K.J. McDaniels.

The Wizards came in off two important games, they fell in Boston and were unable to close the gap on the Celtics, but pulled off a big win against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday to spread some distance between them and both the Hawks and Toronto Raptors. The Wizards sit half a game up on the Raptors, and tonight is their game in hand.

Since the trade deadline, when the Nets flipped shooter Bojan Bogdanovic to the Wizards on February 21st, they are 5-11, pretty good in comparison to 15-56. Bogdanovic is averaging fourteen points with the Wizards, same as he was in Brooklyn, but is doing so shooting more efficiently from both two and three-point range.

The Nets started the game just about as well as the Suns did against them the night before, starting the game on a 13-4 run, with Jeremy Lin scoring five as well as dishing an assist. Otto Porter Jr. responded with his own personal 5-0 run, showing why he may be getting a max contract this season whether it’s from the Wizards or the Nets who were also mentioned to be interested in him. Washington went on a 15-3 run late in the first quarter to take a nine-point lead into the second quarter. Both teams lead by as many as nine in the frame, but the Wizards were up 32-21 after twelve minutes thanks to twelve points from John Wall, Rondae “double sleeves” Hollis-Jefferson lead the Nets with six.

The second quarter was basically a reverse of the first quarter with Washington coming out firing on all cylinders thanks to the momentum they built in the first. The Wizards started on an 11-4 run to extend their lead to fourteen. Washington finished the frame outscoring the Nets by twelve, and lead Brooklyn 63-42, although the Nets had been down by as many as twenty-eight. John Wall led the game with twelve while Jeremy Lin scored ten, Brook Lopez scored six and grabbed six rebounds. Brooklyn was going to need the Wizards to pull a Nets in the third quarter to come back in the game.

On Thursday, the Nets had six bench scorers in double figures, the first time the franchise have ever done that. The 81 bench points are the most a Nets bench has scored since January 9th, 1987 when they scored 88, and they outscored the Suns’ bench by 59, the largest differential in the NBA this season. Friday, the Nets bench got pumped by the Wizards’ second unit and, in the first half, they were outscored 33-14.

One of the few bright spots for the Nets this season has been the development of rookies Caris LeVert and Isaiah Whitehead. LeVert’s length has caused havoc of the defensive end.

The Nets came out of the half with a new energy, in one sequence Randy Foye ripped the ball away from John Wall, the Nets scored, then on the inbound Rondae Hollis-Jefferson stole it and set up Jeremy Lin who was fouled. Washington would not be so easy to let Brooklyn back into the game as they went on a 6-0 run highlighted by a Bradley Beal and-one. Although the Nets were outscoring Washington in the quarter, it seemed to be the opposite with that run. Kenny Atkinson was looking for answers and has clearly become more confident in K.J. McDaniels who went on a personal 6-0 run to bring the Nets back within fourteen, they were down twenty-one headed into the half. They scored thirty-nine in the quarter but allowed Washington to score thirty-four and could not claw back into striking distance.

Brooklyn shot 16-for-22 in the frame but just could not stop John Wall, who sliced and diced through the Nets defense. Wall had a game-high 22 and Beal had nineteen through thirty-six minutes. Washington just missed out on the one hundred point plateau in three quarters as Bogdanovic missed a three at the buzzer, but they led the Nets 97-81. Hollis-Jefferson led Brooklyn with nineteen points, Lopez had just six points and seven rebounds.

The Wizards put it in cruise control in the fourth quarter, but their bench had it going on Friday, scoring just about half of the Wizards’ points in the game in thanks to Brandon Jennings. Another bright spot for the Nets was Justin Hamilton, who hasn’t been seeing the most minutes as of late but has produced when his name has been called, scoring 20 on 6-for-9 shooting.

The Nets streak came to a screeching halt in as Wall and the Wizards walked away with a 129-108 win — try saying that ten times fast. John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 41 of the Wizards 59 points from the starters and their bench was lead by double-digit scorers Brandon Jennings, Ian Mahinmi, and, of course, Bogdanovic.

The Nets are next in action in Atlanta on Sunday with an afternoon matinee against the Hawks.

Brook Lopez

C

The stats: 6 PTS, 3-8 FG, 7 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 0 BLK, 2 TOV

Tough night for Brook Lopez, he hit just three of his first eight shots, including missing a pair of three-point attempts. The rebounding numbers were a nice change because Lopez is averaging just over five this season, but his number one priority needs to be scoring — the Nets need that more than anything else.

Caris LeVert

B-

The stats: 4 PTS, 2-4 FG, 2 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 0 BLK, 1 TOV

Caris LeVert flashes are the most beautiful thing for a Nets fan, and on Friday he had a couple. First, he paused to fake out both Otto Porter Jr. and Marcin Gortat on route to the bucket, then read a pass, ran from the baseline to the three-point line to intercept it, and then took it coast-to-coast. Other than his athleticism, his basketball I.Q. is the rookie’s most impressive part of his game. As it turned out in Washington, those two highlights were his only scores.

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