It’s the year 2020. The Brooklyn Nets are facing the Milwaukee Bucks without Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Nicolas Claxton, Wilson Chandler, Caris LeVert, Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen.
What if I were to tell you the Nets took down Giannis Antetokounmpo and the no. 1 seed Bucks? Because they did. Final score: 119-116. With the Magic loss to the Pacers, the Nets are back in seventh, a half game ahead of Orlando and farther away from a play-in tournament with the Wizards.
Where do we begin? How about at the end?
The Nets had just four players from their opening day roster available for a duel against Milwaukee: Garrett Temple, Rodions Kurucs, Dzanan Musa and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and yet, they found themselves up by five after Garrett Temple hit a 3-pointer, followed by two 3-pointers from TLC which put Brooklyn up 115-110 with 2:31 remaining.
TLC, their leading scorer, had fouled out and the offense was cold after nailing 14-first half 3-pointers. He finished with a career-high 26 points.
The score was 115-114, Nets, with under a minute remaining.
Following a miss, Tyler Johnson grabbed a huge offensive board and put back nets up three. Milwaukee answered and suddenly it was 117-116, Nets lead, with 30 seconds left. They brought the clock down slowly, then pursued: Chris Chiozza handed it off to Garrett Temple, who pump-faked a three, went under, and nailed the game winning mid-ranger with 6.7 seconds left.
Brooklyn did all they could on the other end. Milwaukee was confused and Jeremiah Martin, who was stellar on the defensive end all night, poked the ball loose out of Donte DiVenzo’s hands, forcing a last-second heave that wasn’t even close.
Nets win... NETS WIN.— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) August 4, 2020
Final: 119-116 pic.twitter.com/QTCqTVgsTC
Nobody expected things to go the way they did. As a matter of fact, the Nets were 18.5 point underdogs in Las Vegas! How big of a deal was that...
As Darren Rovell of Action Network noted, somebody got rich...
Two big bets came through on Nets moneyline at @BetMGM books.— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) August 4, 2020
$600 on Nets at 13/1 paid out $7,800
$400 on Nets at 13/1 paid out $5,200
And among them, apparently, was Haley O’Shaunessey of The Ringer...
SOME PERSONAL NEWS pic.twitter.com/vHFGetBXhK— Haley O'Shaughnessy (@HaleyOSomething) August 4, 2020
And the Nets success redounded worldwide, or at least that’s what The Ringer would have us believe...
It started early.
Jamal Crawford checked into the game late in the first quarter, marking his 20th season in the NBA, while also becoming the oldest player to suit up for the Nets organization, beating out Uncle Cliffy, Clifford Robinson, who played for the Jason Kidd Nets in New Jersey.
He was a difference maker immediately: two nifty assists, a 3-pointer and then another assist to close out the first quarter on a 10-0 run — 40-34 lead for the Nets after one.
Not long after, Crawford checked out with a hamstring injury, hurting his leg on what appeared to be a simple handoff. He did not return to the game and took him a while to return to the bench as well. It’s uncertain if when he will play again. Hamstring injuries do not go away without rest.
Jacque Vaughn did say post-game he hoped to see JCrossover on the court again this season.
Not long after Crawford, Donta Hall , the rookie big man got into a little altercation with Giannis Antetokounmpo, the reigning MVP. Okay, Hall tossed him to the side and out of bonds. A little lip-reading made it the funniest confrontation between a Nets big man and an MVP since Mirza Teletovic and LeBron James faced off back in January 2014.
Doing my best to read lips and this is what I gathered: “I’m gonna f— you up!” Giannis yelled at Donta Hall when he got up. Ref gets in the middle, Giannis looked at the ref and said, “I’m gonna f— him up.”— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) August 4, 2020
At that point, it was 42-37 Nets and the Bucks knew they were in a fight. Brooklyn scored 73 points in the first half and led by eight at the half. They shot 14-of-32 from three and assisted on 18 of their 27 made field goals. The 14 3-pointers tied a franchise record for most 3-pointers made in any half.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot led with 17 points, while Justin Anderson chipped in 11. The half was highlighted by this monster slam from Anderson:
Credit to Jacque Vaughn and his young players, who were hitting on all cylinders while throwing in different defensive schemes to throw off the Bucks. They incorporated a 3-2 zone and even showed a matador full-court press at times.
The Nets went up by as many as 11 early in the 2nd half. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Chris Middleton were on the bench to start the second half, and it remained that way for the rest of the night. Brooklyn jumped out on a 9-0 start and gained their largest lead of the night at 11.
The rest is history, and perhaps the biggest win for the Nets this season and the biggest win for Jacque Vaughn as head coach. Vaughn is now 4-1 since replacing Kenny Atkinson back in March with wins over conference leaders Lakers and Bucks. Vaughn said even though he held out three starters, one of the Nets key tenets got them through it.
“We talked about, and will continue to talk about, the ball movement,” said the head coach. “The mentality of shoot it, drive it, pass it. Thirty assists again, you really have to give credit to the guys for being unselfish and passing the basketball and putting trust in their teammates.
“We didn’t necessarily say, ‘Caris (LeVert) is not playing, Joe (Harris) is not playing, we have to move the ball more.’ But I think overall as a team we knew to be successful we’d have to get downhill and get to the paint and create opportunities for others.”
Brooklyn matched a season-high with 21 three, tied a season-low with seven turnovers, dished 30 assists on 43 made field goals, had six players in double figures and 10 players with at least one assist.
-Luwawu-Cabarrot - career-high 26 points
-Chiozza - 10 points and a career-high 10 assists (first-career double-double)
-Temple - 19 points (5-of-11 3FG).
-Anderson (11 points), Johnson (11 points) & Kurucs (10 points) all reached double figures.
Antetokounmpo finished with 16 points. Off the bench, Kyle Korver led with 13 points.
IT’S TLC’S WORLD
The Bubble Big 3 missed this game, but isn’t it really the Bubble Big 4 with Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot? In the three games so far, TLC has averaged 19.3 points, 3.3 rebounds with a shooting line of 59/52/82. In two of his three games, vs. the Magic and Bucks, he tied then surpassed his career high in points (24). LeVert is averaging a team best 25.5 and Harris 20.5.
And yes, the Nets have the 25-year-old under contract for next season. The deal is non-guaranteed till the off-season, but there are trigger dates for partial guarantees in the off-season then early next year.
Does it get better than this? Hard to tell, but consider this. The Bubble has its benefits. After the game, more than one Net noted that they got some helpful advice from the Rockets who beat the Bucks the other night...
Garrett Temple said the #Nets stayed in the same hotel with the #Rockets. Sitting around the pool, they asked for advice on how undersized Houston beat the #Bucks. Brooklyn clearly took the advice to heart.— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) August 4, 2020
JAMAL CRAWFORD MAKES NETS DEBUT... BUT IT ENDS QUICKLY
After sitting in all three scrimmages and the first two regular season games, Jamal Crawford made his Nets debut, the Nets announced about two hours before tip. He checked in with a little less than five minutes remaining in the first quarter, marking his 20th season in the NBA and becoming the oldest player to suit up for the Nets. His first touch... an assist.
Unfortunately for Crawford and the Nets, he exited the game after five minutes due to a hamstring injury. He finished with five points and three assists.
Jamal Crawford checks in. Not long after... pic.twitter.com/X7AHMb2T4Y— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) August 4, 2020
Here’s what Jacque Vaughn said pregame:
“Jamal [Crawford] has been engaged with the group.. he was always locked in and engaged.”
What has it been like having a player-coach like him around?
“I love having guys who love basketball around the group. Jamal does. You can talk to him about today’s game or you can talk about a game 5 years ago... It’s been awesome having him around.”
It was also about history...
When @JCrossover takes court today vs. Bucks, he'll become eighth player ever to play 20 seasons. Others: Vince Carter, Robert Parrish, Kevin Willis, Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kobe Bryant.— NetsDaily (@NetsDaily) August 4, 2020
And of that group, only four have more than 20 seasons: Carter, Parrish, Willis and Garnett. The Nets also became Crawford’s ninth NBA team.
OH YE OF LITTLE FAITH, PREPARE TO BE INKED!
Two Nets fans WILL be getting tattoos as a result of the win. The Nets —and YES announcers Michael Grady and Jim Spanarkel— put the fans on notice that their promises WILL be kept...
This is Brooklyn. We follow through.— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) August 4, 2020
Looking forward to all the new ink! pic.twitter.com/ih0gCab83b
Or as Sponge Bob might say...
For a completely different perspective, head on over to Brew Hoop, our Bucks sister site on SB Nation. They contend Bucks lost to the Long Island Nets.
Next up: Boston Celtics on Wednesday, 9:00pm ET.
- Box Score: Brooklyn Nets 119, Milwaukee Bucks 116 - NBA.com
- Game Report: Brooklyn Nets 119, Milwaukee Bucks 116 - NBA.com
- Michael Grady and Jim Spanarkel on Nets win over Bucks (Video) - YES Network
- Jacque Vaughn on the Nets’ strong play (Video) - YES Network
- Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot on shooting from the paint (Video) - YES Network
- Chris Chiozza on playing undersized (Video) - YES Network
- Garrett Temple on pace of play (Video) - YES Network
- Giannis watches in 2nd half as Nets beat Bucks 119-116 - AP
- Analysis: In up-and-down season, Nets got a moment to savor - Tim Reynolds - AP
- Crawford makes Nets debut, then leaves with hamstring injury - AP
- Nets hold off Bucks as Antetokounmpo rests after half - Reuters
- Nets stun Bucks for one of biggest upsets in NBA history - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets’ insane upset of Bucks lands bettor $32K - Ben Fawkes - New York Post
- Jamal Crawford’s 20th NBA season may have lasted 5 minutes - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets upset Bucks without LeVert, Harris and Allen - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Jacque Vaughn and the Nets just put the East on notice - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Nets say poolside assist from the Rockets contributed to big win over the Bucks - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- A poolside chat and an upset win: How the short-handed Nets took down the Bucks - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic New York
- Nets (+19) shock Bucks for largest NBA point spread upset since 1993 - David Purdum - ESPN
- Jamal Crawford leaves Brooklyn Nets debut with hamstring issue - Nick Friedell - ESPN
- The Biggest NBA Point-Spread Upsets Since 1995: Nets Set All-Time Mark - Steve Petrella - Action Network
- Brooklyn Nets Score Biggest NBA Betting Upset In 25 Years - Shlomo Sprung - Forbes
- The Backup Backup Nets Shocked the World - Rodger Sherman - The Ringer NBA
- NETS VS. CELTICS: BROOKLYN BRINGS MOMENTUM TO FACE BOSTON - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- NETS 119, BUCKS 116: BROOKLYN KNOCKS OFF LEAGUE-LEADING MILWAUKEE - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- NETS VS. BUCKS: GARRETT TEMPLE, CHRIS CHIOZZA, AND JACQUE VAUGHN TOP QUOTES - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- Nets 119, Bucks 116: Unable to clinch top spot in East against depleted squad - Mike Velasquez - Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel