Spurs held to 85 points as Nets’ playoff push presses on

A

Final: 02/25/2019

W 101 – 85

The fun in watching the Nets play comes from seeing each player blossom in his own role and play in stride with the rotation on the floor. 

Brooklyn shone in those roles on Monday night as the Nets held the Spurs to 85 points, the second-fewest points Brooklyn has allowed in a game this season, and won their second straight behind a fluid offense and adaptive defense. 

The playoff push is in full effect. 

Against a San Antonio team that entered Monday’s game going 1-6 on its road trip and coming off a loss to the Knicks on Sunday, the Nets set the tone early. D’Angelo Russell filled the role of the leader and all-star caliber contributor, and brought the aggressive pace in finding his teammates and shooting the open shot.

Russell first had the Nets attacking the paint, but then added the threat from three that the Nets brought throughout the night, draining two from distance and adding a pretty rainbow floater that brought the oohs and aahs. 

It was clearly in the Spurs’ gameplan to allow Brooklyn to shoot the three-point shot, which the Nets jumped at with open arms. The Nets took turns hitting three bombs early, but that also led to a lull when the team missed 10 straight from distance and made just nine threes in the first half. 

Playing the role of three-point champ and drought stopper, Joe Harris was the man to stop Brooklyn’s bleeding when the Spurs went on brief offensive bursts. His 5-of-6 mark, alongside D-Lo, led the team in a 19-of-50 performance from three. 

Alongside Joe, Caris LeVert played into his role of crafty possessions and having the ability to carry his team when needed. LeVert went on a 12-0 personal run to end the first half for the Nets, giving Brooklyn a 14-point lead at halftime while the Nets held the Spurs to 38 first-half points. 

Later, LeVert came up with the big shot again. While the Spurs were threatening on a 13-2 run in the fourth quarter, LeVert cooled San Antonio off and splashed a three from the top of the key, giving the Nets a 15-point lead with just over three minutes to go. 

As he becomes more comfortable with each game, LeVert brings an ease and clutch gene the Nets missed since he went down with his injury. With the threat he brings, LeVert is the weapon he was to start the season and fits even better in the Nets’ offense now that everyone has developed into their niche. 

Assisting on 24 of their 35 shots and making 19 threes, the Nets beat the Spurs for the first time since 2014, having gone 0-7 to the Spurs prior. Minus San Antonio’s run in the fourth, Brooklyn notched a comfortable and confident win at home as the Spurs struggled to find consistency. 

LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan combined for 49 points, but the Spurs showed fatigue on the second half of a back-to-back and finishing up a road trip. They had chances down the stretch to pounce on Brooklyn, but nothing was falling on a 4-of-24 performance from three and 36.5 percent shooting from the field. 

It was not a high-scoring affair, but the Nets got the job done almost as convincingly as they have all season. 

With the Nets needing all the wins they can get in the final stretch of the season, it is refreshing to see the players shining within their roles. D-Lo continues to be confident, feed his teammates and pull up from pretty much anywhere. Joe brings his three-point threat and hustle, and Caris LeVert is giving the Nets the weapon they missed, both with his shot and assisting others as well. 

Add Rodions Kurucs’ aggression, a strong bench rebounding presence and the rest of the squad that keeps up the pace, the Nets are executing the gameplan — and it’s especially fun to watch when it’s not a nail-biter. 

While the Nets did not put up as much offensive contribution as is expected of them, the team notched a critical win as it faces a difficult upcoming schedule. 

Understanding what it takes to get each win and improving within their rotations — the playoff push presses on. 

D'Angelo Russell

A-

The stats: 23 PTS, 9-19 FG, 5-11 3PT, 7 REB, 8 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 3 TO, 36 MIN

As Ian Eagle said post-game, D-Lo brings an All-Star presence with him. He is critical to the Nets getting off to strong starts, and he does it both with his own shot and setting his teammates up for success. 

Did we mention he can make some BOMBS? 

D-Lo could have been a bit more consistent with his shot against the Spurs, but from a near-triple-double to bringing the energy to dumping water on Joe Harris’ head, D-Lo continues to be the leader the Nets need and thrive on. 

Caris LeVert

A

The stats: 15 PTS, 5-14 FG, 2-5 3PT, 3-3 FT, 5 REB, 7 AST, 1 BLK, 27 MIN

It was encouraging to see both Caris and D’Angelo thriving in the game at the same time. The chemistry between the two is starting to shine, and Caris is another player on the floor that can make a big shot when D-Lo’s shot is not falling. 

The big shot on Monday came from Caris when he made a three to keep the Spurs from threatening and cutting the deficit to single digits in the fourth quarter. That came after Caris went on a personal 12-0 run to close out the first half and keep the Spurs at bay. 

Caris brings a big threat to the floor, and with Spencer Dinwiddie still out, it brings relief to the Nets when they need a hot hand. And the assists he dishes are just as huge. 

Joe Harris

A

The stats: 15 PTS, 5-7 FG, 5-6 3PT, 0-1 FT, 1 REB, 3 AST, 1 TO, 31 MIN

Here is a stat: Joe is 19-of-26 from three in his last five games, per YES Network. 

Let that sink in for a bit. 

It’s great, but not that surprising the man who now holds the highest three-point percentage in the league. 

Joe doesn’t miss an open shot, but as Kenny Atkinson said post-game, Joe needs to take more contested shots as well, because he’s that good. Shooting 5-of-6 from three is great, but with a hot hand like that, the Nets could use more attempts from Joe. 

Still, Joe has great timing with his shots in stopping opponents’ runs, and Joe brought that again Monday against the Spurs. We just are left to wonder what he can do if he gets more shots up. 

DeMarre Carroll

B+

The stats: 7 PTS, 1-6 FG, 1-6 3PT, 4-4 FT, 12 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 2 TO, 27 MIN

While DeMarre could not get his shot from distance to fall, his double-digit rebounding contribution was big against a strong interior presence like Aldridge. The Nets needed those rebounds to halt the Spurs’ threat in the fourth, and DeMarre led the way alongside Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis in that department. 

The Nets made up for DeMarre’s lack of offensive contribution, and when he’s rebounding well, the Nets are a well-oiled machine. 

Jarrett Allen

B

The stats: 9 PTS, 4-4 FG, 1-4 FT, 8 REB, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 27 MIN

Jarrett had a quiet game battling against Aldridge, but still made an impact with a near double-double. Combined with DeMarre and Ed Davis, the Nets put up a 51-47 rebounding advantage. 

Jarrett also answered the call when he got the ball, finishing his four shots. But with the Nets focused on the three offensively, Jarrett was able to contribute on the boards and even added a steal and block. 

On a night where threes were flying, Jarrett’s contribution inside was just what the Nets needed. 

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