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.
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.
Barclays Center explodes for Dirk Nowitzki’s first basket of the game. pic.twitter.com/Fsq6pAwvl6— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) March 5, 2019
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.
Re: @owhite10 Randy Foye, broadcasting for YES Network on Feb 24, said he didn’t expect White, who’s played 54 games with Heat and Wizards, to be in the G League for long. He expects the 26-year-old to get a call-up. He also said Nets had been tracking While before signing him.— NetsDaily.com (@NetsDaily) March 4, 2019
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.”
For a different perspective, head on over to Mavs Moneyball, our sister site on SB Nation.
The tanking Cavs are in town on Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. game.
- Box Score: Brooklyn Nets 127, Dallas Mavericks 88 - NBA.com
- Video: Brooklyn Nets 127, Dallas Mavericks 88 - NBA.com
- Nets Post Game Plus: DAL@BKN (Video) - Nancy Newman - YES Network
- Eagle and RJ on blowout Nets win (Video) - Ian Eagle & Richard Jefferson - YES Network
- Carroll on Nets’ win over Dallas (Video) - Michael Grady - YES Network
- Atkinson on ending losing streak (Video) - YES Network
- Wear Brooklyn At? (Video) - YES Network
- Atkinson on Nets’ losing streak (Video) - YES Network
- Nets crush Mavericks 127-88 to end three-game skid - AP
- Hot-shooting Nets rout Mavericks - Reuters
- Lineup changes spark Nets to historic Brooklyn rout - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Kenny Atkinson is buzzing around NBA: ‘Elite, fabulous’ - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets snap skid in big way with 39-point win over Mavericks - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Kristaps Porzingis’ transition to Mavericks going well, says coach Rick Carlisle - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Tim Hardaway Jr: ‘Mind-blowing’ Knicks gave up on Porzingis and me too soon - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- NETS 127, MAVERICKS 88: CARROLL SCORES 22 AS BROOKLYN STOPS SLIDE - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- WITH CRABBE AND KURUCS IN, LINEUP SHUFFLE HELPS LIFT BROOKLYN NETS - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- Following Mavs’ worst loss of the season, Rick Carlisle closes locker room to relay ‘private’ message to team - Brad Townsend - Dallas Morning News