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Nets rally in the second half and snap 3-game losing streak, 98-88

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Gather around. It’s time for another story about ‘Brooklyn Grit.’

The Nets entered this game against Memphis having lost three straight games, while missing Jeremy Lin, D’Angelo Russell and Allen Crabbe due to injury. In the second quarter, they lost Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to a right ankle sprain. Things looked tough and they were only looking tougher.

And yet, they fought and handed Memphis its eighth straight loss, 98-88, Sunday night in Memphis.

This game got off to perhaps one of the ugliest starts of Brooklyn’s season. Memphis forced them to play a slow, halfcourt offense type of game. Things got even uglier in the second quarter when RHJ attacked the hole, fell awkwardly and turned his ankle. He was down grimacing in pain and headed to the locker room.

This means Jeremy Lin, D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson were all out for this one - or at least a majority of it. There’s a point where this ‘next man up’ thing becomes redundant.

But the Nets kept fighting.

The game was tied at half, but the Nets charged out of the locker and went on a 15-2 run to start the second half and took a 13-point lead (62-49). The Nets went up by as many as 19 and led by 14 entering the fourth. They outscored the Grizzlies, 32-18, in the third quarter.

What changed?

The Nets shifted the pace in their favor, as they began to push the ball and shoot a LOT of three-pointers. That’s how the Nets want to play - not how the Grizzlies want to play who rank 28th in the NBA in pace.

Of course the Nets had to give us a little scare in the fourth. Memphis started on a 12-3 run and cut the deficit down to five, but Trevor Booker and Joe Harris scored five straight points for the Nets, bringing them back up double digits.

They never looked back from that point on.

The defense played the best its been all season, allowing Memphis to shoot just 40 percent from the field. The Nets have struggled with stretch bigs all season and it looked that way in this one. Marc Gasol had 16 points in the first half, but scored only two in the second.

DeMarre Carroll was the leader Brooklyn needed him to be, with a season-high 24 points on a season-high four 3-pointers to go along with six rebounds. In place of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Trevor Booker stepped up and finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, one steal and a blocked shot. Joe Harris, who started in place of Allen Crabbe, scored 13 points on four 3-pointers.

The increased pace in the second half opened up the perimeter for Brooklyn. They shot an efficient 13-of-29 from deep and scored 23 points of turnovers. Despite being out-sized down low, they won the rebound battle, too.

“I was happy. It got a little dicey, and we got it together,” Kenny Atkinson said. “Spencer [Dinwiddie] did a real good job in the second half organizing us, slowing down a little; great job by him and the whole group. Obviously we had some guys out. Rondae was out at halftime. That’s why we have 15 guys. Great team win.”


This game represented everything Atkinson and the Nets have been preaching in terms of style of play and culture. They were already depleted with three of their better offensive weapons out with injury. Moreover, they were struggling and lost Hollis-Jefferson to an ankle sprain. Even when things don’t seem to be going their way, they claw, scratch and fight you until the very end. No matter who is playing or who they’re playing against.

Before the Nets entered the locker room at half, Atkinson grabbed Trevor Booker and Caris LeVert. He wasn’t just speaking to them – he was applauding them for their energy and effort. It was a special moment to capture. Kenny’s back was against the wall and he needed his guys to answer strong.

They came out and put up a 32-18 third quarter. Kudos to Kenny Atkinson and the coaching staff.



Brooklyn: D’Angelo Russell (knee), Allen Crabbe (sore lower back) and Jeremy Lin (knee).

Memphis: Mike Conley (achilles), Wayne Selden (quad) and Brandan Wright (groin).


The Nets are now 7-12 on the season with a matchup against James Harden and the Houston Rockets in a second night of a back-to-back. This game represented a lot for this team and its culture. They showed who they are and didn’t back down despite playing without four of their better players.

Still, there has to be some concern around Hollis-Jefferson, who has dealt with ankle injuries in the past. He has become the heart of this team.