“There’s no panic here.”
Those were the key words Kenny Atkinson used before the match up with Chicago — one in which he would be missing his top two scorers: Kyrie Irving (shoulder) and Caris LeVert (thumb).
Atkinson has used the phrase, “next man up,” phrase so much since taking over, almost to the point where it’s become their identity. Spencer Dinwiddie has been the poster boy for that phrase.
And with good reason. Final score: 117-111, Nets.
The Nets did a lot of Nets things in the game. They played well to start the game and took an 11-point lead into the second quarter. They played great defense, limited turnovers (two) and held Chicago to 21 percent shooting with seven forced turnovers.
Then again, they let Chicago come storming back with a 14-3 run to tie the game less than five minutes into the quarter. By the 5:36 mark, they picked up their first lead and ran with it. Chicago didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but they scored 37 in the second quarter and got to the free throw line at will, hitting 38-of-41 on the night.
Contrary to most games this season, it was Brooklyn who had to dig themselves out of a small hole in the second half. Perhaps they’re better served that way.
The guys who needed to step up — struggled to stay on the floor. Dinwiddie, Garrett Temple and Taurean Prince all picked up four fouls before the fourth quarter started. Brooklyn trailed by four entering the fourth with a hungry Dinwiddie waiting for his chance to get back in the game.
In his first game as a Net, Iman Shumpert came up huge with five straight points to tie this thing up. Then, DeAndre Jordan gave the Nets their first lead since the second quarter following a monster put-back slam off a missed free throw.
Dinwiddie had just four points entering the fourth. He committed silly fouls and turned the ball over four times in his first start of the season. But then he woke up. With the Nets up by four, Dinwiddie hit a tough layup in traffic, then hit free throws on the ensuing offensive possession.
The Nets went up by nine with 10 of 13 points coming off the point guard’s hands. He finished the night scoring 20 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter —a career-high for points in a fourth quarter for Dinwiddie.
The Bulls refused to go down without a fight. They hit three consecutive three-pointers to keep this thing within two with nine seconds left. But the Nets converted their free throws late — a theme in this game throughout. Dinwiddie hit 14-of-15 at the line, while the Nets hit 27-of-31.
The Nets took the Bulls by the horn and won this game by a final score of 117-111, which snapped a three-game losing streak.
No, the Nets are not a better team without Kyrie or LeVert, but if Saturday’s game taught us anything, it’s that the Nets are built on winning games by a concerted team effort, not one man’s heroics.
Sure, Dinwiddie can be labeled as the “hero” but others stepped up to keep the Nets afloat all game.
Joe Harris was spectacular, finishing the night with 22 points and a career-high eight assists on 8-of-15 shooting. Jarrett Allen sat the entire fourth quarter, but had an impressive showing with 11 points, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting. Even guys like Theo Pinson and Dzanan Musa — both who spent most of their time with Long Island last year — stepped up.
Now, it’s time to...
The five-game West Coast trip wasn’t exactly easy. They squandered a few games and lost Caris LeVert to a thumb injury and Kyrie Irving to a shoulder injury. Coming home might be the best thing for them — sleeping in their own beds and getting fired up behind the home crowd.
They’ll spend the next week in New York City, with one game at Madison Square Garden.
Monday: Home against Indiana.
Wednesday: Home against Charlotte.
Friday: Home against Sacramento.
Sunday: Away at Knicks.
Kenny Atkinson didn’t say whether Irving would be available Monday, but noted the All-NBA guard had been hurting for last two games.
“Definitely played through some pain starting after the hit in Utah and I think he gutted it out against Denver quite honestly. We all thought it was the best interest to give him a game here.”
YOUR NEWEST BROOKLYN NET: IMAN SHUMPERT
Iman Shumpert was signed immediately after the LeVert news. The Nets have a void in the guard area given the recent injuries and they hope that Shump can bring some intensity on both sides of the ball. He spoke with Michael Grady of YES Network prior to his debut with Brooklyn, discussing the process of being a free agent.
“I had a lot of good talks with teams, thinking about going over the water (overseas),” said Shumpert. “It was a humbling experience. It was a good chance for me to not have to conform to a role in my summer workouts; play the game I love how I grew up playing it.”
Then, he touched on Kenny Atkinson, who was his assistant coach during his time with the Knicks.
“I’m so happy for him every time I see him, talking to him, extended conversations... [It] was so great to walk into that breakfast meeting and see him, just give him a hug and be back on his side.”
KURUCS TO LONG ISLAND
On Sunday morning, the Nets announced that Rodions Kurucs, who hasn’t played in a week, has been assigned to Long Island for their game vs. the Windy City Bulls, which starts at 3 p.m. The assignment will give him a chance to play and hopefully get him out of his funk.
Kurucs has had a tough time of it as of late. He was arrested on September 3 on domestic assault charges, based on a complaint by his ex-girlfriend. Then, after averaging 23 minutes a game in preseason, he’s played poorly, averaging 2.4 points in 11 minutes a game. Nicolas Claxton has taken his minutes of late and looked good.
The 6’10” Latvian spent some time in the G League last season before he broke out and played solid minutes for the Nets, averaging 8.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and playing annoying defense in 55 games.
His next hearing on the assault charges is Tuesday in Brooklyn. We should know by then how the prosecutor’s case is proceeding. No word on the NBA’s internal investigation.
THE SIGN IS BACK!
Ahh... Kenny’s infamous sign to stop the three ball. How’d he do? The Bulls nailed a three right after this video. Hold it higher, Kenny!
For a different perspective, head on over to Blog-a-Bull, our sister site on SB Nation.
Next up: Indiana Pacers at home, 7:30 PM ET.
- Box Score: Brooklyn Nets 117, Chicago Bulls 111 - NBA.com
- Recap: Brooklyn Nets 117, Chicago Bulls 111 (Video) - NBA.com
- Nets Post-Game Plus (Video) - Nancy Newman & Frank Isola - YES Network
- Ruocco and Kustok on Nets’ team win (Video) - Ryan Ruocco & Sarah Kustok - YES Network
- Atkinson on success to end trip (Video) - YES Network
- Harris on Nets’ road victory (Video) - YES Network
- Allen talks beating the Bulls (Video) - YES Network
- Wear Brooklyn At? (Video) - YES Network
- Shearn talks Shumpert addition (Video) - YES Network
- Nets beat Bulls 117-111 without Irving - Robbie Weinstein - AP
- Nets pull away late, take down Bulls - Reuters
- Spencer Dinwiddie leads depleted Nets to crucial win - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Forgotten Nets back up coach’s trust in Kyrie Irving’s absence - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- The Kyrie-less Nets turn in their best game of the year vs. Bulls - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Dinwiddie carries the load as Nets end trip with win - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Theo Pinson helps to lead strong bench attack for Nets - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Banged-up Kyrie sits out a game for Nets - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie takes over late in Kyrie Irving’s absence against Bulls - Eric Woodyard - ESPN
- NETS 117, BULLS 111: BROOKLYN CLOSES OUT ROAD TRIP WITH WIN IN CHICAGO - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- Gallery: Nets vs. Bulls - Brooklyn Nets
- NETS VS. BULLS: JOE HARRIS, JARRETT ALLEN, AND KENNY ATKINSON TOP QUOTES - Brooklyn Nets
- Zach LaVine scores 36, but the Bulls fall to the Nets 117-111 despite not facing Kyrie Irving - Shannon Ryan - Chicago Tribune
- Bulls lose to undermanned Nets, but insist they will stay the course - Joe Cowley - Chicago Sun-Times