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D’Angelo Russell leads the charge as the Nets defeat the Pelicans, 126-121

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New Orleans Pelicans v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — As the Brooklyn Nets closed out the New Orleans Pelicans in Brooklyn, fans in section 114 aka “The Block” chanted, “We want playoffs!”

And for a few hours Wednesday, the Nets moved into eighth seed in the East, the result of their 126-121 win over the Pelicans. Then, after the Pistons beat the Grizzlies later Wednesday, the Nets dropped back into ninth, a half game out.

Still, the narrative on the season has completely shifted in the span of a month. At this time a month ago, the Nets had lost their sixth straight game and would go onto lose eight straight.

Now, following a stretch in which they won 10 of 13, the Nets are back and looking to make a playoff push. Yeah, they have their own pick, but winning is more fun and better for the culture, for free agent purposes and for everybody to believe in what they’re building.

“Guys are hungry,” D’Angelo Russell said after the game. “Guys are hungry for opportunity and as soon it’s presented to them, they take advantage of it. That’s what this league is about.”

They snapped a two-game losing streak with the victory over the New Orleans Pelicans (17-22), at Barclays. They trailed by one with 5:06 left in the first quarter, but a Spencer Dinwiddie layup put Brooklyn up one with 4:38 left in the quarter and they never looked back.

Instead, it was a balanced attack throughout, led by D’Angelo Russell who finished the night with 22 points and 13 assists — eight coming in the first half, which tied a career-high for most in a first half.

The barrage started in the first and then carried into the second, when Brooklyn went on a 21-9 extended run which gave them a 24-point lead and 73 points — the most they’ve scored in a half this season.

They sustained the lead in the third quarter after scoring 32 points and hit the 100-point mark entering the fourth for the fourth time this season — a new franchise record. It was an 18-point lead after three.

Then, New Orleans made their run in the fourth — a 19-8 spurt that brought them within seven with less than six minutes remaining. Fortunately for Brooklyn, Joe Harris scored two straight buckets and brought Brooklyn back up 11 with 3:30 remaining. Pelicans then got it within five with 30 seconds lefts, but it was a bit too late.

“I don’t want to get carried away, but I like our trajectory and I’m very pleased. We had a bunch of guys out and we’re still able to pull out some games,” said Kenny Atkinson after the game.”

The Nets assisted on 27 of their shots and nailed 50 percent of them on the night. They also shot an impressive 16-of-31 (51.6%) from three. Most impressive, the Nets bench outscored the Pelicans 55-5. That is not a typo.

“Losing Caris (LeVert) and Allen Crabbe and Rondae (Hollis-Jefferson) and I just think, like I said before the game, we’re a deeper squad and we’re a better squad,” Atkinson explained.

Seven different Nets finished in double figures led by Russell. The others? Harris (21 points), DeMarre Carroll (19 points), Dinwiddie (18 points), Shabazz Napier (12 points), Jarrett Allen (10 points, 11 rebounds) and Rodions Kurucs (10 points).

For New Orleans, Anthony Davis had another monstrous night with 34 points and 26 rebounds. They shot 52 percent from the field, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Brooklyn’s scorching offense.

Do I hear... playoffs?

For post-game audio, click here.

JARRETT ALLEN DOES IT AGAIN ... AND AGAIN

Add Anthony Davis to the ever-growing list of All-Stars who’s had his shot blocked by the Nets 20-year-old center.

CRABBE INJURY WORSENS

Last week, Kenny Atkinson reported that Allen Crabbe had practiced 5-on-5 for the first time in weeks ... but also noted he had a hard time. His knee was still sore.

Wednesday, the Nets updated Crabbe’s situation and it wasn’t good news. In a statement, the organization noted that Crabbe’s sore knee is the result of a bruised fat pad. He will be re-evaluated in another one to two weeks, when his return-to-play protocol will be determined.

Asked before the game if surgery is possible for Crabbe, Atkinson said, “No, we haven’t gotten to that point yet. It will be a re-evaluation in a week to 10 days and go from there.”

LAST MATCH AGAINST NEW ORLEANS

To review and revenge.

Ed Davis was involved in a controversial technical foul call at the end of Brooklyn’s 117-115 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans in their last match up back in late October.

Davis is a veteran leader among the young group of Nets. When Solomon Hill entered the Nets’ huddle with two seconds left, Davis gave him a light push with his forearm, garnering a T from the officials.

“But he a certified clown for the flop. Like I said it was a dumb play by me, I entertained a clown and that’s what happens. I don’t think it should’ve been a [technical foul], but I put it in the refs hands and they made that call. The clown won the battle.”

THE RUN

The Nets are now 10-3 since the end of their eight-game losing streak four weeks ago tonight.

—They’ve beaten four playoff teams: the first, third and eighth seeds in the East and the fourth seed in the West.

—Five times they’ve hit 125 points, including the win over the Pelicans.

—Caris LeVert has missed all 13 games, Allen Crabbe has missed 10. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has missed two.

—The Nets are 10-3 since Rodions Kurucs last had a DNP-CD.

A BIT OF HISTORY

In the 2016-17 season, the Nets won their 18th game on April 2.

In the 2017-18 season, the Nets won their 18th game on January 21.

The last time a Nets team won its 18th game this early was in the 2003-04 season. That squad, like this year’s, notched their 18th win on January 2.

TREVEON GRAHAM BACK PLAYING

The Nets assigned Treveon Graham to Long Island Wednesday for his first game action since going down with a hamstring strain in October. Graham played 25 minutes in Long Island’s 123-107 victory over the Erie Bay Hawks at Nassau Coliseum.

The 6’5” swingman scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds, shooting 6-of-11 overall, 2-of-5 from deep. He also had three steals and an assist.

Here’s video of Graham’s highlights.

DINWIDDIE’S KICKS

For a different perspective, take a look at The Bird Writes, our Pelicans sister site on SB Nation.

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Next: The Nets will face the Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis on Friday, 8pm.