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Carroll, LeVert lift Nets over Miami in DLo’s return: 101-95

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Miami Heat v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The hype entering this game surrounded D’Angelo Russell, but the Nets reminded us that, when they win, it comes collectively. There is no ‘one-man show.’

Brooklyn finally snapped their four-game home losing streak with a 101-95 victory over the Miami Heat, Friday. They entered Friday having lost three straight, four straight at home and six of the last seven. They snapped Miami’s three-game winning streak, as DeMarre Carroll lifted the team with a career high-tying 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting.

The Nets trailed by as many as 16 in the third quarter, but as it was too early to count them out, as we’ve learned so often this season. Whiteside subbed out and they finished the quarter on a 12-0 run and cut the deficit down to two entering the fourth.

They carried the momentum into the fourth quarter and made it a 26-8 extended run, giving them their first lead since the first quarter. DeMarre Carroll did all he could to lift Brooklyn. He scored eight straight points late in the fourth and the Nets never looked back.

It was all tied up at 91 apiece with less than two minutes remaining. Everybody was thinking big shot DLo for this one, but instead it was Dinwiddie and LeVert who hit the big buckets. LeVert drove to the hole and put Brooklyn up four. On the next possession, he hit a mid-ranger to put Brooklyn up six with 34 seconds left.

They’ll begin a five-game road-trip in Detroit on Sunday.

It was another tough start for Brooklyn. Carroll was the only player in double figures as they trailed by 10 at half. The offense was bad, but the interior defense was even worse. It’s been a reoccurring issue. Hassan Whiteside had a near double double with 15 points and eight rebounds in the first half alone.

He finished the night with 22 points and 13 rebounds, a credit to Brooklyn’s defense for containing him in the second half.

Miami’s defense was solid in the first half. They played Brooklyn’s ball-handlers tight and frustrated them all night. But the Nets stayed persistent and ultimately prevailed, outscoring the Heat 58-42 in the second half and 34-26 in the fourth quarter.

LeVert anchored Brooklyn late and scored 12 points and five assists in 27 minutes. Dinwiddie started the game 1-of-5 from the field, but finished the night 6-of-12 with 15 points and six rebounds.

DEFENSE WINS GAMES

When the Nets hold their opponent under 100 points in the last two seasons they are 11-1 this season. Even last season, with their 20 wins, they were 6-4 when holding the other team to less than 100.

“We made plays, but more importantly we got stops,” Kenny Atkinson said post-game. “We really locked down defensively. That’s a good team, a top 4 team in the East. They’re playing really well,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We struggled big-time in the first half, did not look great. But we held them to 16 points in that third quarter. That changed the game.”

RUSSELL RETURNS

After missing the last 33 games due to a knee injury, DLo finally made his return. The 6’5” guard went down on November 11 vs. Utah, then after further examination, needed arthroscopic surgery on his knee six days later.

He finished the night 0-of-5 from the field in 14 minutes, looking a bit rusty, as expected.

He checked in at the 4:28 mark of the first quarter to a loud ovation from the Brooklyn crowd.

He did have a couple of nice passes, as more than one fan pointed out: a pick-and-pop pass to Acy to cut the Miami lead to 11 with 4:07 left in the third, causing the Heat to call a timeout; and a bullet pass to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson for the slam to cut the lead to two with 17.7 left in the quarter. The Heat again called a timeout.

LeVert said post-game that DLo’s encouragement helped the Nets come back from that big deficit.

“[Russell was] obviously rusty, which is normal. His second [half] he was much better,” said the coach. “You could see he got in rhythm. He’s got a feel as a quarterback, as a point guard of getting guys shots.”

A return to early season form will help the Nets. In 12 games, Russell averaged a career-high in each of the following:20.9 points, 5.7 assists, and 4.7 rebounds on 47 percent shooting.

***

The Nets improved to 17-29 on the season and will begin a tough road-trip on Sunday. Although Russell didn’t necessarily go off, it was good to see him back out there with the team. It’s even more refreshing to see them get a W.

For a different perspective, head on over to Hot Hot Hoops.