The Brooklyn Nets welcomed the Detroit Pistons into town hoping to steal a win despite being down several key players and they did just that.
Without Jeremy Lin, Joe Harris, or Sean Kilpatrick in the lineup Brooklyn was able to hold on to win this game 98-96. After opening up an 11 point lead, the Nets allowed Detroit to tie the game up as time was winding down. With only 2.5 left on the clock, the Nets inbounded and let the second all-time leading scorer in franchise history do the rest.
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) March 22, 2017
Brooklyn was able to win this game behind Brook’s steady hand and heroics, Caris LeVert coming through in crunch time, and Goodwin and McDaniels playing like they want a spot on this team next season. This game almost went a very different way because of how badly Rondae Hollis-Jefferson struggled to contain Tobias Harris
Brook Isn’t The Hero We Want, But The One We Need Right Now
Few players have been more under appreciated by a team’s fanbase than Brook has been by Nets fans. Every season he is on the block and every season fans have such a “meh” attitude about possibly seeing him leave. Last night he proved why he should be treasured.
With Lin and others sidelined, he stayed consistent throughout the game and led the team in scoring. He ended with 29 points on 13 of 24 shooting from the floor and three of nine shooting from deep. In addition to his last second heroics, he pulled down seven rebounds and cut down on his recent turnover woes by only coughing it up once. He stepped up as the leader of the team in a major way and helped deal a major blow to Detroit’s playoff hopes.
With Lin being day-to-day, Brook is going to need to step up as the leader of this team. His play is usually consistent and he seems to be a lead by example type of person, but this is a team of young guys. He should try to be more vocal and demonstrative with everyone like you saw in crunch time tonight. Good things happen when you talk on offense and defense, it is one of the many things veteran point guards (like Lin) bring to the table and that is missing from this team right now.
Caris LeVert Is Growing In Crunch Time Minutes
Rookie Caris LeVert seems to be growing with each and every game. Last night he finished with 15 points on five of eight shooting from the floor and three of four from deep while keeping Marcus Morris in check on the other side of the ball.
His five point swing in the fourth quarter helped seal the deal for Brooklyn. With 1:55 left in the game, he nailed a clutch three off of a Brook assist to push Brooklyn’s lead to seven. After future Net Kentavious Caldwell-Pope nailed a three and sparked a Pistons run, LeVert was able to force a foul on Marcus Morris and nailed both of his free throws to give Brooklyn a two point lead. Without that cushion, the Nets don’t get the win.
LeVert has been getting more and more minutes in the fourth quarter and the experience is showing. He is no longer in a shooting slump, he is defending at a high level, and his confidence is through the roof despite playing on a 13 win team. The future is bright for LeVert. If he keeps developing at this rate, he could be known as the biggest steal in the 2016 draft.
New Additions Goodwin & McDaniels Are Carving Out A Future For Themselves
Sean Marks‘ recent acquisitions have been playing really well as of late. Archie Goodwin, who is on a 10-day contract from the D-League, stepped up in a major way to the tune of 10 points, three assists, and five rebounds on five of ten shooting from the floor. K. J. McDaniels, who was acquired at the trade deadline, played his best game in a Nets uniform to date after finishing with 11 points on four of eight shooting from the floor and two of four from deep.
Both of these young players are fighting for a roster spot and relevance on an NBA team. Goodwin was cut by the Phoenix Suns after being a first round pick and has since been in the D-League while McDaniels has been buried on Houston’s bench since arriving there as a rookie. If this stop with Brooklyn doesn’t work out for either player, chances are they will have to toil in the D-League or Europe until another opportunity arises.
Luckily for all parties involved, things seem to be working out for both players. Goodwin got off to a slow start but has looked good in back to back games. He played an excellent defensive possession against Harrison Barnes last game that was key and since then he has been on a mini-tear. McDaniels has shown promise as a 3&D prospect and plays hard whenever he is on the court. He is slowly finding his footing and is looking like he is getting into a good groove with consistent minutes.
Hollis-Jefferson Struggled To Contain Tobias Harris
One thing that surprised me in this game was how much Hollis-Jefferson struggled against Tobias Harris. Both players have similar builds, Harris having a little more muscle on his frame, but for whatever reason Hollis-Jefferson could not contain him.
Harris started the game on a perfect six for six before finally missing a heat-check jumper late in the shot clock. He ended with 24 points on ten of fifteen shooting from the floor. It didn’t matter if he was driving the lane or shooting jumpers, Harris took Hollis-Jefferson to school and no other Net helped out.
Hollis-Jefferson also struggled offensively, only scoring four points on two of seven shooting from the floor. He pulled in four rebounds and dished out two assists in 26 minutes. Games like this happen for young players, especially ones that are learning a new position like he is. All he can do is take the lessons learned from this game and apply them going forward.