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VOTE LEVERT! Nets blowout Suns in Phoenix, 104-82

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

Behind yet another All-star-like performance from Caris LeVert, the Brooklyn Nets (5-6) defeated the Phoenix Suns (2-7), 104-82, Tuesday night at the Talking Stick Resort Arena. LeVert scored 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting in 32 minutes. He also had the defensive assignment on Devin Booker and held him to just 6-of-21 shooting.

D’Angelo Russell chipped in 15 points and six rebounds, while Jarrett Allen tallied 10 points, nine rebounds and five assists in 24 minutes. Brooklyn’s bench scored 37 points on the night, led by Spencer Dinwiddie with 12 points and also had five assists.

LeVert has now scored 20 or more points in seven of 11 games this season. Last year, he did it six times in 71 games.

For the Nets, it was a win in the first game of a brutal four-game road-trip that continues with Denver on Friday —and Golden State on Saturday— as well as their second straight 20-point win and third victory in four games.

It was as close to a “must-win” as it gets in November. They’re now 5-6 on the season with their first win streak of the season. And they’re in seventh place in the conference.

They started the jump in the third.

The Nets held a double digit lead as they did for most of the first half, but Phoenix came back punching and cut the deficit down to five. That’s when Brooklyn historically folds.

Tuesday was different. Instead of collapsing, they answered with two fast breaks in a row — the final one capped off with a Jared Dudley to a three-pointer by LeVert to put Brooklyn back up 13.

They entered the third with a 10-point lead and sealed the deal when they took a 16-point lead with a little over five minutes left in the game. They never took their foots off the gas pedal and outscored Phoenix 28-16 in the fourth quarter.

It was capped off by a nifty move from Joe Harris which Ian Eagle referred to as “The Scruff Rider.”

Harris finished the night with 11 points but had a very uncharacteristic 1-of-6 from three.

Brooklyn’s defense forced 20-Phoenix turnovers (their second straight game with 20 or more), which led to efficient offense in the open floor. Their ball movement was as stellar with 22 assists to 10 turnovers. Although they failed to make Phoenix pay from the perimeter (25%), they beat them in every other aspect of the game.

For Phoenix, DeAndre Ayton led with 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Booker put home 20 points on a poor shooting night.

“I think we’re a maturing team. We’re getting mentally tougher, especially on the road,” Kenny Atkinson said. “We’re growing up in terms of our physicality on the defensive end. I think that’s our mental maturation; I think it’s physical maturation. Ed Davis was outstanding. He’s a physical player, and sometimes, that’s contagious.”

Atkinson also had praise for his other veteran, Jared Dudley, giving him an A+ so far “not only (for his) mentorship, but we’re obviously starting him and he’s contributing… he’s doing it in the locker room and he’s also doing it with his play, because he doesn’t need the ball in his hands.”

Dudley said he’s proud of what he’s been able to do after the Suns gave up on him and pressed him to accept a buyout, which he refused to do.

“For me, it was showing myself and the league that I could still play,” Dudley told Greg Logan before the game. “ ... when you’re not doing your job for a year or two, people think, ‘Is the team wasting money on him? Can he still play? Is he out of shape?’ For me to spend the summer I did and get into tip-top shape, I could go to the bench next week or whatever and [I showed] I’m an NBA player.”

Meanwhile, his former teammate Booker was embarrassed over his and his team’s performance.

“It sucks, man. We thought last game (a dramatic win over Memphis Sunday) would be our step forward, and we definitely took a step back tonight,” Booker told local media. “We didn’t protect home court. Came in here and got (blown) out in front of our fans, so it’s embarrassing.”

CARROLL RETURN LOOMING?

DeMarre Carroll hasn’t suited up this season due to right ankle arthroscopy, but it sounds like he’s getting closer. Head coach Kenny Atkinson said Monday that Carroll went “pretty hard today” in practice and said he’s “getting real close” to a return.

The Nets can use him. They don’t have many stretch bigs on this team and you can be sure that Kenny is going to use him at the four.

DINWIDDIE’S KICKS: TRIBUTE TO MUHAMMAD ALI

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For a different perspective, head on over Bright Side of the Sun, our sister site on SB Nation.

NEXT UP: Denver Nuggets on Friday at 9pm ET.