The Brooklyn Nets are not a team that has enjoyed success on back to backs. Until last night’s 91-82 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn was 0-13 on the second night of back to backs.
It was a pretty ugly game for both teams. Both teams shot under 40 percent from the floor, both teams turned the ball over 19 times, both teams shot under 30 percent from deep, and both teams failed to top 100 points. As Atlanta gears up for the playoffs, a second loss to the Nets in a week is probably the last thing they needed. Brooklyn on the other hand will take a win any way they can get it, no matter how ugly.
Despite shooting poorly, turning the ball over a lot, and failing to score 100 points the Nets should be proud of this victory. For the first time in a long time, the Nets seemed to have control over the game for its entirety. Although Atlanta did take the lead at one point briefly, Brooklyn fought and kept this game out of reach behind another big game from Brook Lopez, Jeremy Lin‘s hot start, and played a complete game.
Brook Came Through Yet Again
Brook Lopez is ending this season on one incredible hot streak and it is leading to victories for Brooklyn. He followed up his 30 point effort Saturday night with a 29 point, five assist, five rebound, five block, two steal game last night. He shot twelve of twenty one from the floor and three of seven from deep in 30 minutes of action.
If there is any player that deserves all the praise for the Nets this season it is Brook Lopez. He has been injured so much in his career and in a season marred by injury for everyone else on the team, Brook remained the lone constant. What makes this all the more incredible is he was doing it while every fan wanted to see him traded. He has reinvented himself this season and by taking his game out to the three point line and away from the physicality of the paint, he has probably added some years onto his career overall.
As the season winds down, Brook is just 60 points away from passing Buck Williams‘ all-time Nets scoring record. With five games left and Brook on a hot streak, he can and will break this record before the season is out. Brooklyn is also two wins away from 20 on the season, a feat that would’ve seemed impossible in January.
Lin Had A Hot Start, Fizzled Slightly After Halftime
While Brook has been setting the world on fire the past week or so, Jeremy Lin has been struggling. Over the past two or three games he has looked a step behind and very frustrated in comparison to his calm demeanor. Thankfully last night was the beginning of his return to old form after his hot start in this game against Atlanta. He ended the game with 15 points, six assists, and six rebounds while shooting five of ten from the floor and two of four from deep.
By halftime, Lin had scored 12 points on five of six shooting from the floor and Brooklyn took a three point lead into the break. The second half wasn’t as kind as the first half, but given how poor he has looked from the floor recently this was a really good step in the right direction. Atlanta has guards and wings that are very good at forcing turnovers and disrupting opponents as they go into their shooting motion, so to see Lin go 0-4 isn’t the end of the world.
What was different about last night as opposed to others is Lin didn’t try to shoot through it, instead he started setting up teammates and focusing on the defensive end. There is a saying in basketball that shooters shoot and that shooters need to just keep shooting through a cold spell, but Lin isn’t a shooter. He is a point guard that can also hit threes, it is very important to remember that.
Lin should be taking 12-15 shots per game and of those 12-15 shots, only three or four should be threes. During this slump he has been taking about five per game and twice he took six. He needs to return to the things that made him the player he is today and in order to do that he needs to drive the lane, facilitate the offense, and be the talkative, natural leader he has always been. The rest will come as it always has.
Brooklyn Was Able To Start Strong And Play A Complete Game
It has been a rare occasion to see the Nets put together a complete game but last night was pretty close to it.
Aside from letting Atlanta creep back into the game and briefly overtake the lead in the second quarter, Brooklyn outscored or tied Atlanta in three of four quarters. The first quarter was won 29-24 by Brooklyn, then the Hawks went on to outscore the Nets 19-17, but the second half belonged to the home team who went on to outscore Atlanta 45-39.
Brooklyn is proving they are learning how to walk away from tight games with victories. Not only have they gotten a taste for victory, but they are played like a team that is trying to prove something. They don’t want to be known as the worst team in the league. They don’t want to be known as the worst team in New York.
These games since the All-Star break have been proof that something interesting really is cooking in Brooklyn. The Nets are 9-10 since March 1st. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that in a different universe where Jeremy Lin never got injured, Brooklyn made the playoffs this year.