The Brooklyn Nets are showing us exactly who they are — and who they’ve been under Kenny Atkinson.
First, it was Caris LeVert who went down with a thumb injury. Surgery followed. Then, Kyrie Irving went down with a shoulder injury. No timetable has been revealed for his return. And so, Kenny and the Nets have been forced to step up in adversity — the same way they did it last year.
Brooklyn improved to 12-10 on the season following a 111-104 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night. They improved to 8-3 without Irving and 6-0 on Fridays.
It was a total team effort from the guys in black-and-white. Neither team budged through the first three quarters, a back-and-forth battle with plenty of three-pointers and very little defense.
Then, the second unit stepped up and gave Brooklyn all the momentum they needed. David Nwaba (13 points) rallied the troops on both sides of the ball, providing a much-needed spark off the bench. DeAndre Jordan (16 points, 13 rebounds) brought the toughness they needed on both ends, showcasing his importance with dunk after dunk, block after block. Iman Shumpert didn’t set the box score on fire, but he was a hound on the defensive end.
All of this carried the Nets on a 12-0 run, giving them a 14-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. At that point, the Hornets went more than five minutes without a bucket. A game that once looked like a stalemate suddenly turned into an eye-opening victory for the Friday night Nets.
Ultimately, it was the defensive effort that won them this game. They entered the fourth with just a two-point lead and contained Charlotte to 20 points in the fourth quarter.
They never budged from that point on. Charlotte brought it within seven with 2:32 remaining when Jordan tipped in a bucket off a Spencer Dinwiddie missed three-pointer. The Nets came up with a stop on the other end, and Joe Harris sealed this thing with a gritty layup in the lane to put them up 11 with 1:54 left.
Joe Harris was one of six Nets players to score 10 or more points, finishing the night with 22 points and six three-pointers.
Harris started right where he left off from last year’s three-point competition, nailing his first three of four looks from deep. Taurean Prince was right there with him, finishing with 16 points, while Jarrett Allen recorded 14 points and 10 rebounds — his seventh straight game with double digit rebounds. Dinwiddie never found much of a rhythm on the offensive end, so he adjusted his game and became the lead facilitator with 12 assists.
The Nets dished out a season-high 35 assists on 42 made field goals — their fifth time this season finishing with 30+ assists; the sixth straight game in which they’ve recorded 24 or more assists.
Furthermore, they recorded a season-high-tying 32 points off 19 Charlotte turnovers, out-rebounded the Hornets by 15 and won the bench battle by 12 points.
This is Nets basketball under Kenny Atkinson. The ball is moving and guys are stepping up in roles they weren’t expected to have prior to the season. Atkinson deserves a ton of credit for the work he’s done in terms of bringing out the best in whatever he has.
Not to mention, he stayed true to his words from the past and stayed with the hot hand when it mattered most. Allen was having a great game, but the Hornets simply had zero answers for Jordan. So, he kept his rising star on the bench for most of the fourth and let Jordan rock out. It paid off.
Again, THIS is Nets basketball. They’re sticking to the principles that got them to this point and they’re winning as a result. Maybe they aren’t better without Kyrie and Caris the way folks have been saying. Maybe they’re just better when their backs are against the wall and they’re forced to play Brooklyn Nets basketball.
It’s brought the best out in them.
FROM NETS PR:
Since assuming the starting point guard role with Kyrie Irving out (10 games): Spencer Dinwiddie is one of six players averaging 24.0+ ppg and 7.0+ apg, joining Luka Doncic, James Harden, LeBron James, Bradley Beal and Trae Young.
THE SHOT MAKERS, PART I: JORDAN AND ALLEN
The Nets two centers, DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen, both came away with double-doubles Friday, Jordan with 16 and 13 and Allen 14 and 10. They also shot a combined 13-of-17. And no wonder. Jordan is the NBA’s all-time shot-maker, shooting 67 percent over 11 seasons while Allen leads the NBA this season at 67.1 percent, bringing his career percentage to 60.0 percent. Indeed if Allen had enough field goals to qualify, he and Jordan would be No. 1 and No. 2 ALL-TIME in field goal percentage.
Allen, by the way, is second in the NBA in dunks, behind only Giannis Antetokounmpo.
THE SHOT MAKERS, PART II: JOE HARRIS
And from three, Joey Buckets has been on fire, as Steve Lichtenstein of WFAN tweeted...
In #Nets last 2 road wins, Harris has averaged 17.5ppg, 2 rpg, 4.5 assist, 0.5 turnovers, & 1 steal per game while shooting 54.2/63.6/100% from floor/3/FT line. Made some huge plays when opponents were keying on Dinwiddie.— Steve Lichtenstein (@SteveLichtenst1) December 7, 2019
Harris was 6-of-8 vs. Charlotte (see below) Friday. For the season, Harris is now eighth in 3-point percentage at 45.7, not that far below his league-leading 47.4 percent last season. Harris is also eighth ALL-TIME in 3-point shooting at 43 percent and third among active players, behind only players with the last name of Curry.
FROM THE VAULT:
JOE HARRIS LOVES CHARLOTTE!
KENNY ATKINSON ON DAVID FIZDALE BEING FIRED BY KNICKS
“It doesn’t make you feel good as a colleague, and a friend quite honestly. I know it’s part of this business,” said Atkinson. “But he’s an excellent coach. He’ll be back for sure.”
Jordan, who played for Fizdale last season, had his own thoughts after being informed of the firing by Nets media.
“I didn’t know that. I don’t look at social media on game days. That sucks,” Jordan said before the Nets’ win.
“Obviously, I haven’t seen or heard the story. I love Fiz. He treated me well when I was there and my family. He’s a great motivational guy, he’s competitive. Obviously, he was down there [in Miami] and they won some championships. So, that’s unfortunate. That sucks.”
For a completely different perspective, head on over to At the Hive. our Hornets sister site on SB Nation.
Next up: Denver visits Brooklyn on Sunday for a 3 PM ET battle.
- Box Score: Brooklyn Nets 111, Charlotte Hornets 104 - NBA.com
- Recap: Brooklyn Nets 111, Charlotte Hornets 104 (Video) - NBA.com
- Nets own paint in win vs. Hornets (Video) - Sarah Kustok & Ian Eagle - YES Network
- Atkinson talks on win over Hornets (Video) - YES Network
- Jordan on impressive road win (Video) - YES Network
- Harris on defensive effort (Video) - YES Network
- Wear Brooklyn At? (Video) - YES Network
- Atkinson on Allen’s rebounding (Video) - YES Network
- Harris, Jordan lead Nets past Hornets, 111-104 - Richard Walker - AP
- Nets run away from Hornets in second half - Reuters
- Nets turn in complete performance to beat Hornets - Brian :Lewis - New York Post
- DeAndre Jordan, Atkinson sound off on David Fizdale firing - Brian :Lewis - New York Post
- Nets ‘D’ help in win over Hornets - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Nets’ Jordan, Atkinson feel bad for Fizdale - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Nets, Barclays Center remain stronger than ever - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- NETS 111, HORNETS 104: BALANCED BROOKLYN ROLLS PAST CHARLOTTE IN FOURTH - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- Nets’ inside game overwhelms Hornets, despite Graham’s six 3-pointers - Rick Bonnell - Charlotte Observer