Tonight’s game between the Brooklyn Nets and Phoenix Suns went from an 18-point Phoenix lead in the third quarter, to an eight-point Nets lead in the fourth and finally an 18-2 Phoenix run to win the game, 122-114.
Entertaining? Yes. But not the outcome the Nets wanted, letting up their effort and dropping the last home game before a five-game west coast swing.
What ended up defining the night for the Nets were defensive stops, or the lack thereof. They were able to apply that pressure in the second half of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth, but the Suns found their ways to force the ball to the rim.
Brooklyn put up a 35-point frame in the third, but the Suns’ 35-point fourth quarter in response put the Nets at bay.
Up until Brooklyn’s 23-2 run in the second half, the only player providing consistent offense for Brooklyn was D’Angelo Russell. Outside his effort, the team was shooting close to 30 percent at points in the first three quarters. Russell put up a quick 20 points in the first half and went on to drop 33 points on the game. Trusting his offensive instincts went a long way for his first high-scoring game since tweaking his knee.
Where Russell was unsuccessful was in the primary point guard role. The Nets thrived when Dinwiddie was controlling the ball, as Russell could think about his shooting before passing.
Phoenix went on its 18-2 run in the fourth quarter when Russell was subbed in for Dinwiddie on a timeout. Dinwiddie waited three minutes for a dead ball to be subbed back in, to no avail.
Brooklyn made a last ditch effort through the end of the fourth quarter to snag the lead. The Nets had defensive stops and even forced a five-second violation. Allen Crabbe got a shot off, but it was no good. In other offensive sets, Phoenix’s defense proved too much.
Devin Booker (32 points) and Mike James (24 points) led the way for the Phoenix Suns, having consistent contributions all night. The Nets could not keep up. Brooklyn was also out-rebounded 66-44 on the night, a struggle that has established itself throughout the season.
The Nets also only had seven turnovers on the night, a low total compared to recent struggles. The Suns in comparison had 18 turnovers, but Brooklyn did not capitalize.
The loss marks Brooklyn’s third straight following the team’s win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now, the team goes on a five-game western road trip.
Game one of the trip? That comes against Brook Lopez and the Lakers at 10:30 p.m. EST on Friday.
That one might be worth staying up for.
The stats: 6 PTS, 3-6 FG, 0-2 3PT, 0-1 FT, 5 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 19 MIN
He did not make a three-pointer, but Joe Harris made his presence felt tonight. His minutes were a positive for Brooklyn, grabbing boards and staying active on defense.
His role may change night-by-night, but Harris has shown he is a reliable and effective man in second-team lineups.
The stats: 15 PTS, 5-10 FG, 3-4 3PT, 2-2 FT, 4 AST, 1 TOV, 2 STL, 22 MIN
Give Spencer Dinwiddie the ball at the one, and he’ll gladly take it. Brooklyn made its third-quarter run under the hand of Dinwiddie, himself draining two straight threes that had Ian Eagle making Halloween puns.
"SPENCER DINWIDDIE PUTS THE PUMPKIN IN THE HOOP!" – Ian Eagle.
Watch #NETSonYES as we enter the 4th qtr.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) November 1, 2017
Dinwiddie has been consistent in his impact on the court – he can score, distribute and let Russell focus on his offense.
His impact was further shown in what happened when he was off the court, as the Suns made their game-winning run with him on the bench. He could not be subbed in time to stop the bleeding.
Would Brooklyn have won if he stayed in the game? Nobody will ever know, but the end result might have been a bit closer.
The stats: 33 PTS, 11-21 FG, 2-5 3PT, 9-11 FT, 6 REB, 4 AST, 1 TOV, 29 MIN
D’Angelo Russell kept the Nets in this game throughout the first half nearly single-handedly. His 20 first-half points gave the Nets life as the Suns drained shot after shot with no end in sight.
Still, Russell was the leader on the court when the Suns erased Brooklyn’s efforts to take the lead. He made his way to the line and drained his shots.
Russell remained adamant, though, as he forced a steal to try and ignite a comeback, but by then Brooklyn went cold.
If the team as a whole did not take so many contested shots, the guard might have seen more overall success in leading the team to victory.
The stats: 21 PTS, 8-16 FG, 0-1 3FG, 5-7 FT, 7 REB, 1 AST, 2 TOV, 1 STL, 2 BLK, 31 MIN
RHJ just keeps getting better on offense. His 21 points tonight are a career-high, and his seven boards and two blocks help show the all-around role he played in the game.
Along with Russell, RHJ helped Brooklyn stay alive and the first half in trying to find a rhythm. The starting unit as a whole has to set that.