As if you didn’t already know, but the Brooklyn Nets only go as far as Caris LeVert takes them.
Sunday was perhaps the biggest game of the NBA’s resumption and the Nets answered the call, thanks to the new “Big 3” of Caris LeVert, Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen who combined to score 83 points on the night. Harris said the trio feel they have to step up. They are three of the four longest serving players on the roster.
“We anticipate playing a lot of minutes here throughout,” said Harris. “We’re in the position where we are just a little bit limited in terms of our roster. Guys are still trying to get incorporated into (Jacque Vaughn’s) philosophy.
“It’s not an easy transition for a lot of these guys to come in, whether they’ve been quarantined for however long, come in, get practice reps, get themselves back into basketball-playing shape, and then pick up everything that we’ve been doing for a majority of the season.”
In a game they needed to have in order to avoid early thoughts of a playoff fallout, the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Washington Wizards on Sunday, 118-110. The Wizards are seven games back of the Nets for the eight seed, but given the current rules, they can force a play-in tournament against the Nets should they cut it within four games.
After the game, LeVert told reporters how veteran Jamal Crawford told his teammates, “This proved that we can take a punch.”
“Jamal (Crawford) was preaching it all game. He said, ‘This proves we can take a punch.’ They were beating up on us, especially at the start of the game, even in the 3rd quarter, 4th quarter, we were down. We took a punch, we overcame adversity, and we won...
“We realized we really needed the win out there,” said LeVert. “Guys who have been here – myself, JA and Joe – we kind of took it into our own hands and said we can’t lose this game. We just went in there and gave it everything we had.”
As of now, even if the Nets lost the rest of their seeding games and finished 1-7, the winless Wizards would have to go 3-3 the rest of the way for there to be a play-in tournament. Even it there was a the play-in tournament, the Nets would only have to win one game, the Wizards, two.
Both teams were completely depleted for the resumption. They each suffered double digit losses in their first game back, the Nets to Orlando and the Wizards to Phoenix.
Nobody said it needed to be pretty.
The Nets entered the fourth quarter trailing by two. Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert were in double figures at that point, just barely keeping the team’s head above water. It was the first time the duo had scored 20 points in the same game together.
But the Nets needed to get help elsewhere.
Joe Harris started the fourth with a bank-three, followed by an and-one from Garrett Temple and a 3-pointer from Chris Chiozza. Brooklyn led by five with 10:43 remaining, but Washington immediately answered with a 7-0 run.
But ultimately, it was LeVert and Harris who propelled Brooklyn to a late victory. They scored 12 straight points, 16 of 18, which gave Brooklyn its largest lead of the night (eight) with 2:17 remaining.
Caris LeVert finished strong with 34 points and seven rebounds — 25 of the 34 coming in the fourth quarter. He hit 8 free throws to aid his decent shooting night.
Joe Harris matched a season-high with 27 points and moved passed both Vince Carter and Kerry Kittles in Nets history for most 3-pointers in a season, currently sitting sixth all-time. It was also the 56th straight game in which Harris has hit a 3-pointer.
Jarrett Allen matched a season-high with 22 points, while matching a career-high 10-made free throws. He also grabbed 15 rebounds. After his third dunk on the night, Allen set a Nets single season record for most dunks in a season. It was also his 27th double double of the season and his fifth career 20-point, 15-rebound game, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, four of them this season. The only problem? His defensive assignment, Thomas Bryant, went off for 30 points and 13 rebounds, but Vaughn said that was the plan, cede Bryant the outside while protecting the paint
“Obviously I want to protect the paint [and] I want to go out there and contest Bryant. It’s hard juggling the two; but I want to follow the game plan,” Allen said. “The game plan was for me to go and contest the shots at the rim and the guards to have my back to go get Bryant.”
The Nets didn’t shoot particularly well (42 percent), but they hit 31-of-37 from the free throw line, marking just the third time this season that the Nets made 30+ free throws in a game.
Jamal Crawford was out for a second straight game - five if you include the three scrimmage games. Brooklyn is currently on the cusp between the seven and eight seed, pending results from the Magic-Kings game.
They’ll face the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday. If they stay in the eighth spot, we’ll be seeing these two in a first round matchup.
A QUICK WORD
Some called it morally and ethically wrong that the NBA had a bubble with readily available testing right in the middle of Orlando. Are they wrong? Not so much, in my opinion. With that being said, Adam Silver and the NBA have done a wonderful job with the resumption of the season, assuring players’ safety with the ‘bubble’ and with everything else. From the social justice fight down to virtual fan engagement, it’s just another example of the NBA’s smart, progressive stance on the game and life — a model that all other sports should learn from.
Look at the MLB. I love baseball as much as the next guy, but what’s happening is simply dysfunctional... and dangerous. The NBA’s plan has checked off nearly every box in its resumption. Kudos to the ones at the top who made it possible, and kudos to the players for committing. They aren’t perfect, just ask Lou Will. But they’ve done a damn good job.
Let’s just hope it stays that way.
CRAWFORD SITS AGAIN. WHY?
Crawford sat in all three scrimmages and will now sit the first two regular season games.— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) August 2, 2020
Puzzled... Nets need a win & there’s 6 games left. He can’t play 10 min? https://t.co/57Z9hzHE62
“It’s a mutual conversation between Jamal and I and the performance team,” Vaughn said of Crawford, who worked out before the game and will get another workout Monday.
“Then we’ll continue to just have a conversation of where he is. And at the end of the day it’s definitely going to boil down to the competence and care for the athlete. We want him to feel comfortable, have that relationship feel comfortable with him producing on the floor.”
IRON MAN JARRETT
Allen played 38 minutes. the most he has ever played in a non-overtime game. And Allen is the only Net to play in 66 games this season.
AS SPONGE BOB MIGHT SAY...
For a different perspective, head on over to Bullets Forever, our Wizards sister site on SB Nation.
Next up: Nets play the Bucks at 1:30pm ET on Tuesday.
- Box Score: Brooklyn Nets 118, Washington Wizards 110 - NBA.com
- Game Report: Brooklyn Nets 118, Washington Wizards 110 (Video) - NBA.com
- Ian Eagle on the Nets playing in the bubble (Video) - Sarah Kustok - YES Network
- Jacque Vaughn on Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen (Video) - YES Network
- Caris LeVert on Nets’ fourth-quarter surge (Video) - YES Network
- Joe Harris scores 27 vs. Wizards (Video) - YES Network
- Jarrett Allen on doing his job (Video) - YES Network
- Michael Grady and Frank Isola on Nets’ win (Video) - YES Network
- Wear Brooklyn At (Video) - YES Network
- Caris LeVert’s 34 lead Nets past Wizards, 118-110 - AP
- LeVert (34 points) dominates fourth, lifts Nets over Wizards - Reuters
- Nets essentially punch NBA playoff ticket with win over Wizards - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets adjustments allowed Caris LeVert to dominate Wizards - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets mix it up to beat Wizards in second game of NBA restart - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Nets lean on ‘Core 3′ for huge win over Wizards - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- The Nets defense succeeded by leaving the Wizards’ Thomas Bryant wide open - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- NETS 118, WIZARDS 110: CARIS LEVERT, JOE HARRIS, JARRETT ALLEN LEAD BROOKLYN WIN - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- GALLERY: NETS VS. WIZARDS - Brooklyn Nets
- Wizards’ playoff chances take a hit despite Thomas Bryant’s big game - Ben Golliver - Washington Post