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¡Hola Mexico! Caris LeVert carries Nets to 100-95 victory over OKC

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Utah Jazz v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Live from Mexico City, playing in a 22,300-seat arena, 7,300 feet above sea level, the Brooklyn Nets and Oklahoma City Thunder played the first of two global games this weekend.

They gave the fans a good one.

In a defensive battle, yes defensive battle, the Brooklyn Nets (10-14) snapped Oklahoma City’s 3-game winning streak with a 100-95 victory, Thursday night. The Nets converted on just one field goal in the final 4:38, but their defense propelled them to victory after holding OKC to just 16 points in the fourth quarter.

Caris LeVert was the player of the game on both sides of the ball and on either team. He earned his first career double double and posted a career-high 10 assists to go along with 21 points, five rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots. He played well defensively, especially his defense on Russell Westbrook in the fourth quarter.

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The flow of the game seemed off from the start. The Nets like to play fast, but you could tell the altitude was affecting their ability to push the ball.

Things only got tougher, but the Nets kept fighting.

Spencer Dinwiddie picked up his fourth foul in the early stages of the second quarter in less than seven minutes of playing time. Keep in mind: The Nets were extremely limited with ball handlers. Jeremy Lin, D’Angelo Russell and Isaiah Whitehead are all hurt. Sean Kilpatrick was waived earlier in the day.

It gave more responsibility to Caris LeVert who thrived in his role as point guard. LeVert helped Brooklyn weather the storm and cut a 16-point deficit down to nine at half. Given the circumstances, the Nets were fortunate to be down single digits.

They fought and continued to do so.

As a result, they began to get more and more comfortable as the game went on. They fastened the pace and jumped out on a 14-4 run to start the second half and took a one-point lead – their first lead since 1-0. Still, OKC took a 5-point lead entering the fourth, but the Nets chipped away.

It became a seesaw battle early in the fourth quarter up until the Nets went on a 9-0 run and took an eight-point lead. It was their game to lose.

Oklahoma City answered with a 7-1 run and cut the deficit down to three, but the Nets answered with a mini run of their own and put home the dagger on a monstrous dunk from Spencer Dinwiddie. The Nets dared OKC to take this game from them as they finished the final 4:38 with just one field goal, but it spoke volume for their defense.

The Nets held OKC to 38.8 percent shooting and held Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony to a combined 15-of-47 shooting.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson finished with 17 points, while Tyler Zeller chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds. Allen Crabbe nailed four 3-pointers and Jarrett Allen came up with two nice blocks.

The Thunder played without Paul George, while the Nets played without D’Angelo Russell.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT

BILINGUAL KENNY!

FAST PACE IN HIGH ALTITUDE

The Nets are currently top-3 for league’s fastest pace, which makes for an interesting two games to see how they deal with the high altitude of Mexico City. They’re 7,382 feet above sea level, 2,100 feet higher than Denver - the highest city in the NBA. Luckily the performance team is experienced with these type of issues

“Our performance team is giving them a bunch of [instructions]. Zach Weatherford has experience with the Olympic team and Dan Meehan has experience at altitude,” said Atkinson, referring to the team’s director of player performance and head of strength and conditioning. “I can’t tell you our secrets because I don’t want the enemy to know, but I do think we have things in place that will help our guys.”

DeMarre Carroll was optimistic about it.

“Hey, we’re going to try to. That’s what we’ve been training [to do],” Carroll said. “We trained all summer for it, to be in the best shape, to be one of the best-in-shape teams. So hopefully it’ll affect them more than it affects us.”

This is the 25th anniversary of the first game held in Mexico. The NBA has played 26 games in Mexico dating back to 1992 – the most games played outside of the U.S and Canada.

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The Nets will finish this two-game trip with a game against the Miami Heat on Saturday. This was a big test for the young Nets. They played with a pretty depleted lineup and closed out a tight game in a high pressure situation. They took a step in the right direction today and that’s all you can ask for.

For a different perspective, head on over to Loud City.