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Russell, Nets come up big late and snap 4-game losing streak, 98-92

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets practiced the basics and went back to doing what they did the first five games of the season. They needed it.

And at the end of the night, they didn’t necessarily play their best game, but they came together and grinded out a 98-92 victory over Phoenix to snap a four-game losing skit. It’s their first road victory of the season.

The Nets led most of the way put couldn’t fully pull away. Then, D’Angelo Russell came in at the 9:02 mark with just 21 minutes to his name and put on a clinic. He created offense and scored 13 of his 23 points in the fourth and dished three of his eight assists as well.

"You get tired of losing after a while and this is something to build off of,” Russell said post-game. He later added, “Everybody played their part in terms of running the system,” a major point of emphasis at Sunday’s practice.

The entire offense operated through DLo late, but ultimately it was the defensive stops late that propelled Brooklyn. Devin Booker fouled out with 2:37 left and capped off a disappointing night for Phoenix.

It wasn’t easy nor was it pretty. Brooklyn squandered a 16-point lead in the second quarter. Joe Harris lifted them and kept them afloat in the half where he scored 14 of his 18 points on the night. Then, they squandered a 10-point lead in the third quarter.

The Nets went over the foul limit less than 2 minutes into the 4th quarter. Timofey Mozov fouled out after only 16 minutes of action. With Trevor Booker and Jarrett Allen already out, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson leaving at halftime with a right hip contusion and Mozgov fouling out, Brooklyn’s weakness was glistening. Quincy Acy, coming off an injury, and Tyler Zeller were the only bigs left for Brooklyn.

Still, Russell stepped up as a leader and facilitator in the fourth. He dictated the pace and created for both himself and his teammates. He shot 8-of-13 from the field but also turned the ball over five times. He looked much more composed in the offense.

It was one of those games where you couldn’t tell if the Nets played well or if the Suns played bad. Almost everybody struggled on offense. They got the win despite the loss of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson who left at halftime with a right hip contusion.

It may sound crazy to say after 10 games, but the Nets needed a win in the worst way.

The Nets were a little better on the glass and had their best defensive game of the year – the only game they’ve allowed less than 100 points. They didn’t shoot particularly well, 40 percent from the field and 8-of-32 from deep. However, Phoenix shot 35 percent and committed 17 turnovers to 13 assists.

Caris LeVert was moved to the bench as he entered Monday shooting 42 percent from the field & 22 percent from three. He attacked the rim and played solid defense, but he struggled to execute with a 2-for-8 shooting night. He grabbed five steals and played solid defense on Devin Booker.

Allen Crabbe was promoted after a 25-point night in Los Angeles, and stepped up and with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting. DeMarre Carroll finished with a double double of 14 points and 11 rebounds. Tyler Zeller filled in a big role and scored 12 points in 17 minutes.



Kenny Atkinson held his guys accountable all night. He called more timeouts when the team would have mental lapses and sat guys down to talk about certain things that they did wrong, especially if was due to poor shot selection. At one moment, he subbed D’Angelo Russell out for 21 seconds just to talk to him... after a questionable shot. It showed growth and leadership from Atkinson, who had the Nets practice ‘the basics’ of the offense, similar to training camp.

“It wasn't the prettiest game ever played in the NBA. It was a lot of tugging and clawing,” said Atkinson post-game


Joe Harris recorded a season-high 18 points in a game that didn’t see much offense. He’s been one of Brooklyn’s most consistent players, known as a three-point specialist who looked awfully versatile on Monday, on both ends of the court.


Trevor Booker missed his second straight game with a back injury. Jarrett Allen missed his third with a foot injury, which is not believed to be serious. Just cautious.

No word on Hollis-Jefferson injury other than it’s a hip contusion. RHJ came out at the beginning of the third quarter to try things out but sat the rest of the way. He says he hopes to play Tuesday night vs. Phoenix.


The Nets (4-6) will play the Denver Nuggets (5-5), Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET.

For a different perspective, visit the Bright Side of the Sun.