It came down the wire, because they all do these days for the Brooklyn Nets.
They get there in different ways, but in the end the they’re going to test just about everybody in the building, inside the lines or out. And after 48 minutes of basketball — sometimes more — the verdict for all their work keeps on coming down to one shot or one stop.
On Friday night against the Toronto Raptors, they got the stop — two stops really, counting the one in the final 10 seconds of regulation — and the shot they needed to get the result they’ve been desperately chasing in a 106-105 win over the Toronto Raptors.
“I think that stop at the end of the game was indicative of who we were all night,” said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. “We fought, we clawed and the basketball gods shined on guys that have been playing good basketball and guys of high character and guys that are together and spirited. So it’s just nice to see those guys in that locker room rewarded for their efforts.”
They pulled this out by everybody playing a part, or playing their specific part. Ed Davis blitzed the boards. Jarrett Allen put up a double-double. Spencer Dinwiddie drove, and D’Angelo Russell pulled up and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson D’d up, especially at the end.
“Felt good. Felt good to get a win,” said Hollis-Jefferson. “Especially against that team being that we fought so hard a lot of games and came up short. Feels good to come out on the good end of things. You know you’ve got to give credit to the team. We stuck in there, we fought, we went down, we went up. Battle of basketball. Some shots didn’t fall. But we kept fighting. Stayed resilient. And that’s that it’s about at the end of the day.”
After Wednesday night’s loss to Oklahoma City, there was apparently a players-only film session. Atkinson referenced it before and after the game, though the players themselves didn’t have much to say about it.
“That’s why you bring guys like that into your locker room, into your program,” said Atkinson. “Guys with great character and great spirit. And they kept their spirit. Even last game, I thought our spirit was off the charts and our togetherness. And then the film session — maybe we’ll have them do the film session the rest of the year. That’ll make my life easier. Sometimes as a coach you try to feed them everything. You coach every little thing and the fact that they can coach themselves and communicate amongst themselves. I can’t take credit for the idea. It was our staff that came up with it, and that’s why we have a great staff.”
The previous six games had featured three two-point losses and a fourth in overtime. They’d been within five points in the last five minutes of seven of the eight losses dating back to Thanksgiving Eve.
Against the Thunder, the NBA’s leading defensive team and winner of 15 of 18 games coming into Brooklyn on Wednesday, there was even a 20-point fourth quarter lead. They just couldn’t win the final minute. And as it repeated itself, that’s what it became all about.
Changing the ending allows a look at the bigger picture from the last week and shows a team that has hung to the end with anybody they’ve taken the court with.
“Yeah, I think it just kind of validates what we were already feeling,” said Joe Harris of the win. “We’ve obviously been able to compete night-in, night-out with everybody that we’ve played against. Toronto up to this point, even now, has been record-wise the best team in the NBA, and they really have been playing the best basketball. For us to come in and get some validation that our process, we’ve been sticking with it, staying consistent, and we were finally able to execute and finish one off.”