The Brooklyn Nets improved to 4-4 on the season after surviving a 60-point outburst from Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard on Friday night, with the Nets prevailing 119-115.
Although Brooklyn played solid defense in the first quarter, what ensued was an absolute shootout between two offensive juggernauts. Neither team was particularly efficient, but that didn’t stop them from putting points on the board in a hurry.
Damian Lillard was on fire from the second he stepped on the court, and the Nets had no answers for his array of acrobatic finishes and long-distance darts. Thankfully, Portland had just as much trouble containing Kyrie Irving and Spencer Dinwiddie.
As for the supporting stars, Caris Levert and CJ McCollum engaged in what appeared to be an aggressive competition to see who could build a brick house. Neither player ever found a rhythm, though their 32 combined shot attempts might suggest otherwise.
The highlight of the first half was when Nicolas Claxton made his NBA debut. The 2019 second-rounder put his endless motor to good use and put a defender in the spin cycle for his first career points.
It was a neck-and-neck battle for most of the night, but Portland began to pull away in the final frame, building a five-point lead with 5:45 left in regulation. From that point on, it was all Brooklyn Nets.
Irving and Dinwiddie led a 17-2 run that saw their five-point deficit become a ten-point cushion. Lillard responded with 10 points in the final two minutes, but Brooklyn held on to secure the win for their first consecutive wins of the season.
Dame did his best to keep his squad competitive, but 60 points weren’t enough. Brooklyn held the rest of the Blazers in check to a tune of 21-for-64 from the field, and the Nets’ 16 three-pointers made up for their cold shooting inside the arc.
Kyrie finished with 33 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Dinwiddie ended the night with an equally impressive 33 points, five boards, and six dimes.
Jarrett Allen was more than serviceable in DeAndre Jordan’s absence. It felt like the towering center was everywhere, and he racked up 12 points, nine rebounds, five blocks, four deflections, and a steal.
Brooklyn was once again in familiar territory on Friday night. The Nets were in a tight battle down the stretch, an opposing star had a huge game, and Kyrie came to the rescue.
A win is a win. Nobody can erase it from their record. Having said that, this style of play isn’t sustainable. You can’t give up 119 points per game and expect to outscore your opponent with regularity.
On a positive note, Brooklyn committed a season-low 9 turnovers against the Trailblazer, so at least they’re trending in the right direction on one side of the ball. Still, if the Nets don’t shore up their execution, maintaining a winning record is going to be one heck of a task.