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Nets snap 3-game losing streak with most lopsided victory in (Brooklyn) history, 127-88

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NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Brooklyn Nets Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Hello Brooklyn, how ya doin’? Been a long time.

Coming off three straight losses, all with playoff implications, Monday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks was an absolute must-win for the Brooklyn Nets. And they answered the call... and then some.

Unlike the past three games in which they were blown out of whatever building they were playing in, the Nets flipped the switch and put a beat down on the Mavericks (27-36), 127-88, Monday night at Barclays Center. The Nets improved to 33-33 on the season and tied the Pistons for the six seed.

One game after their biggest margin loss of the season (29 points), the Nets answered with their biggest margin of victory in (Brooklyn) history.

This game looked much different than the past three losses to the Wizards, Hornets and Heat. The Nets moved the ball (29 assists), dominated the paint battle (56-22) and simply hit their shots, finishing with a 42 percent clip from three and 57 percent from the field.

It’s a little different when you’re making shots and forcing the opposition to inbound the ball, opposed to missing shots and letting them run out on the break.

“It was really about the two things we emphasized before the game, defense and rebounding,” Kenny Atkinson said after the game. “I thought we defended much better tonight and we secured rebounds... This helped our spirit. Good team win.”

There’s more to it, like others not named D’Angelo Russell stepping up. Teams have adjusted against Russell by forcing the ball out of his hands and letting somebody else step up. Russell sat most of the first half due to foul trouble, but DeMarre Carroll, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert all stepped up off the bench.

Carroll finished with a season-high-tying 22 points, while Dinwiddie chipped in 16 and LeVert 18. As a whole, Brooklyn’s bench out-scored Dallas’ bench 68-31.

Russell still finished the night with 13 points, 10 assists and two steals. Russell also extended his franchise record streak of games with at least one three-pointer made to 45 — second-longest active streak in the league, trailing only Paul George’s 52-game streak.

He also notched his eighth double-double of the season. He had eight double-doubles in his first three seasons combined.

The Nets trailed 15-13 in the first quarter, then turned on the jets and never looked back. They finished the first half with a 52-32 advantage and took an 18-point lead entering the break, their largest lead at halftime this season. It was a 38-17 extended run that really put them over the top.

They took a 25-point lead in the third quarter and a 44-point lead in the fourth.

... And that was that.

The scouting report was out on the Nets. Teams knew what they needed to do to take them out of their rhythm and it worked up until Monday. Kenny Atkinson re-adjusted and started Rodions Kurucs at the 4 while others simply stepped up.

“We trust coach’s moves. At this point in the season, he makes plays, he makes calls, we’ve just got to go with it. I thought today, it was great. I think we may have figured out some type of recipe, just keeping guys going and everybody in attack mode,” Russell said after the game.

Kurucs, who was an integral piece during the seven-game win streak, finished with 19 points and six rebounds with a plus-20 on the night. He matched his season-high with five 3-pointers made (on seven attempts). Guess the adjustment worked.

“I play my game. I think it’s just my game and my game never changes,” Kurucs said.

Other than Dwight Powell (20 points), the Nets did a good job of containing the Mavericks. They held them to 36 percent shooting (27 percent from three). The biggest part, perhaps, was containing Dallas inside. And in the battle of the two best international rookies, Kurucs outscored Luka Doncic, 19-16.

We’ve hit the point of the season where this needs to become the regular thing for the Nets. Why? Because every game is a must-win game. Just take a look at the standings.

Post-game audio here.

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PLAYOFF RACE

It’s officially crunch time. Brooklyn’s three-game skid entering Monday’s game against the Mavericks put them in a tough position — one in which we’re calling almost every game a “must-win.” Here’s where the Nets stood Tuesday morning: They’re tied with the Pistons for the six seed with a two-and-a-half game advantage on the eight, nine and ten seeds, held by the Magic, Hornets and Heat.

FAREWELL TO DIRK

Dirk Nowitzki played his last game vs. the Nets Monday night and every time — EVERY time — he moved from the bench to the scorer’s table, the crowd gave him a rousing ovation. At game’s end, with the Nets more than comfortably ahead, Mavericks players who didn’t pass to him got roundly booed. He didn’t have a great game. We aren’t going to mention the stats, but here’s how fans reacted when he finally scored.

Good for you, Dirk. Good for you, Brooklyn.

STRETCH 4... FROM LONG ISLAND?

It’s no secret that the Nets need a stretch 4 in the worst possible way. They want to play to their advantage, which is playing small and spreading the floor. The only problem with that is they don’t have any bigs that can hit the three ball! Oftentimes it feels like they’re playing 4-on-5.

And the defense isn’t nearly good enough to endure this style of ball.

“We’ll see. We have to look at it,” Atkinson said on Saturday. “My job as a head coach is to help these guys out of these struggles. If that means a lineup change, we’ll do it. If that means sticking with the same guys, we’ll do it. It’s something we have to talk about, and put everything under consideration.”

Net Income (and Randy Foye) may have a solution... Okaro White.

Oh yeah, he was born in Brooklyn.

DLO X D-WADE

One of the very few positives that came from the Nets’ 29-point blowout against the Heat came... after the game. D’Angelo Russell and Dwyane Wade exchanged jerseys in a nice moment for the two.

Remember, Wade and Russell had a nice moment at All-Star Weekend. Wade told him, “You know you’re one of the best in the game, right?” Then he later added, “Whatever you did to get here... do more.”

ASTRONETS

For a different perspective, head on over to Mavs Moneyball, our sister site on SB Nation.

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The tanking Cavs are in town on Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. game.