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Nets snap three-game skid with 135-130 win over Nuggets

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NBA: Denver Nuggets at Brooklyn Nets Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — In China, 2019 is the Year of the Pig which symbolizes fortune and luck. Call it fortune, call it luck — call it whatever you’d like, but the Nets had a lot of it on Wednesday against the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.

The Nets led 55-54 in the second quarter. They weren’t playing bad but they just needed that jolt from somebody to get over the hump. That somebody was Joe Harris, who nailed two consecutive three-pointers en route to a 17-6 run to close out the half.

They never trailed again, out-scoring the Nuggets, 42-25, in the second with a balanced attack from everybody. Then, they continued the rout, taking a 21-point lead to start and finish the third quarter.

The Nuggets made it close in the end, cutting it to six, but the Nets never folded. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson put the dagger home with a dunk to put the Nets up eight with 25 seconds left. The arena erupted in a long, sustained “Brook-lyn” chant as fans headed to the exit.

Final: Nets 135, Nuggets 130.

The Nets (29-27) ended a three-game losing streak, while defeating the 37-17 Nuggets for a second time this season, one of only two teams to sweep Denver. The Nets entered the night just three games ahead of the nine-seed Pistons. The 29th win is the most the Nets have tallied since 2015 when they finished 38-44 and made the playoffs.

It all started with the ball movement. The Nets dished out a season-high 36 assists, led by D’Angelo Russell who finished the night with 27 points, six rebounds and 11 assists — his sixth double-double this season, which sets a new career-high in a season. He has now scored 20+ points 15 times in his last 19 games.

“I’m here,” he said after hitting two straight three-pointers.

He nailed six on the night, another part of his game that has improved dramatically this season.

Then DeMarre Carroll, who finished the night with 18 points, nine rebounds and a career-high tying six assists. Coming off the bench with him was Shabazz Napier, who finished with a career-high 11 assists.

As a result, the Nets nailed 19 three-pointers on 34 attempts. They went 5-of-42 in the last game and hit a combined 15 in the prior two games. They also scored 108 points entering the fourth after scoring just 94 and 89 in the two previous games.

Russell hit six, Treveon Graham (16 points) hit four, Harris (17 points) hit three and both Carroll and Napier hit two apiece. And hey, can’t forget Allen Crabbe who played seven minutes after missing the last 26 games who hit one. Rodions Kurucs, who’s been in a bit of a slump had one as well.

Overall, the Nets shot 51 percent from the field, 56 percent from three and 73 percent from the free throw line.

The Nuggets, meanwhile, dropped 130 points on 51 percent shooting, but Nikola Jokic was pretty quiet all night. He only attempted six shots entering the fourth and finished with 25 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists on 8-of-13 shooting. The line is nice, but the Nets will take him attempting just 13 shots any day of the week.

It was a playoff atmosphere on a Wednesday night in Brooklyn... The way it should be. Here’s to hoping it’s the Year of the Pig for them, too.

POST-GAME AUDIO HERE.

PLAYOFF RACE

The Nets entered the night just one game ahead of the Hornets as the six seed in the East — three games ahead of the nine-seed Detroit Pistons. Brooklyn entered Wednesday on a three-game losing skid which made things a little more interesting with the All-Star Break right around the corner. Below are the games to watch for:

By Thursday at midnight, the Nets were two games ahead of both the 7 and 8 seed and three and a half ahead of the nine seed.

ALLEN CRABBE RETURNS

After missing 26 games over a month and a half, Allen Crabbe finally returned to action vs. Denver. He played 13 minutes, scored five points on 2-of-5 shooting, including a three that got the crowd roaring. He also handed out three assists.

No official word on when Caris LeVert will return but he practiced again Wednesday with the Long Island Nets. Might he return Friday night vs. the Bulls? Don’t bet against it.

TRADE DEADLINE APPROACHES

No word yet on what Sean Marks is up to, but it may be to stay the course, let the team get healthy. The most prevalent rumor is that the Nets have an interest in Nikola Mirotic of the Pelicans. No word on who might be sent to New Orleans.

The deadline is 3 p.m. Thursday.

JOEY BUCKETS IS HEADED TO CHARLOTTE

Finally, the NBA announced that Joe Harris would be participating in the three-point contest during All-Star Weekend. Harris will be the fourth Net to appear in the three-point contest, joining Joe Johnson (2014), Anthony Morrow (2012) and Drazen Petrovic (1992).

He’s shooting 45.3 percent from three, but has hit a bit of a lull for his standards over the last five games, shooting just 6-of-21 entering Wednesday.

Let’s also not forget this awesome video the Nets made:

CELEBRATING CHINESE NEW YEAR

The Brooklyn Nets celebrated the Lunar New Year as part of the NBA Chinese New Year Celebration 2019. Throughout the night, the Nets featured special in-game elements, fan giveaways, musical performances, special content, dancers, food, courtside signage and concourse decorations. 2019 is the Year of the Pig which symbolizes fortune and luck (hopefully it rubs off on the Nets.)

DLo gave it his best shot offering a Lunar New Year greeting...

Later, Russell revealed yet another side to his personality.

Not so fast, a former teammate tweeted.

The Brooklyn Nets will participate in the NBA China Games 2019 this October in two preseason games against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 10 and October 12. Minority-stake owner, Joe Tsai, was born in Taiwan and is on the board of NBA China. He and his wife, Clara Wu, sat courtside.

For a different perspective, head on over to Denver Stiffs, our sister site on SB Nation.

***

Next up: The Bulls at home on Friday, 7:30 p.m. The Bulls are likely to be showing a different line-up. Earlier Wednesday, they traded Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker to Washington for Otto Porter.