BROOKLYN, N.Y. — For the Nets, beating the Spurs was like beating your pops in the driveway for the first time. In this case, it was like beating your pops after he just got back from a long day at work.
San Antonio played the second night of a back-to-back and their eighth straight on the road. The Nets sent them home unhappy, handing them their seventh loss in the last eight, 101-85, Monday night at Barclays Center. The Spurs 85 points were the second fewest the Nets have allowed in a game this season.
For Brooklyn, it was their second straight win and third in their last four, which pulls them two games above .500 at 32-30, good for the six seed in the East.
The Nets trailed ONCE in this game and it was at 4-2 just 2 minutes and 12 seconds into the game. They played team basketball, their style of ball — passing the ball around the perimeter, hustling after loose balls and simply finishing at the rim as the Spurs incorporated a zone defense.
The Nets started just 9-of-28 from three, but allowed the Spurs to score only 38 points — the fewest they’ve allowed in a first half this season. Caris LeVert scored the final 12 points for Brooklyn, looking very much like the old Caris, and gave them momentum and a 14-point lead entering half.
“I am getting there,” said LeVert after the game. “Every game I am getting more comfortable. I am not too worried about it because I know I put the work in. I’m more worried about helping the team win. Seeing where I was just a couple of months ago, it’s a blessing to be out there.”
They kept the rout going in the third and nailed seven three-pointers on 14 attempts after the break, taking an 81-59 lead into the fourth. A 12-0 run capped off by a deep three from D’Angelo Russell, giving Brooklyn a 22-point lead.
“When he’s got it rolling like that you want him to continue to just be aggressive, continue to play with that confidence. That’s what Kenny [Atkinson] instills in all of us,” Harris said after the game. “When D-Lo gets it rolling it’s one of those situations where you just try not to get in his way.”
DLo passed Deron Williams for second place on the franchise’s single-season 3-pointers made list and finished the night with 23 points, seven rebounds and eight assists in 36 minutes.
“The Brooklyn Nets have done a great job this year. They’re just getting better and better,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said afterwards.
The Spurs are ranked first in the NBA for three-point percentage at 40.4. On Monday, they shot just 4-of-24 (17 percent). The Nets on the other hand, finished the night 19-of-50 from three (38 percent).
They assisted on 24 of 35 made field goals and out-rebounded the Spurs by four. Before the game, Kenny Atkinson said Brooklyn’s rebounding woes have “scared” him a bit, but they did it Monday as a collective unit.
The Nets want to emulate everything the Spurs have done over the years and after a two-point loss in San Antonio last month, the Nets showed exactly why they have the same potential.
… Just like the first time you beat your pops in the driveway.
Monday in fact was the first victory over the Nets since December 2014 … and thus, the first since Sean Marks left San Antonio for Brooklyn, aka a milestone.
Wow. Talk about a huge win over the Hornets on Saturday. It didn’t totally separate the Nets, but it gave them a little more breathing room and may have tiebreaker implications should it come down to that. But it’s still close. They’re 1 1⁄2 games over the Detroit Pistons while three games separate them from the eight seed Charlotte Hornets and three and a half from the lottery.
Monday’s Heat loss to the Suns was particularly devastating for Miami’s playoff hopes. They are now 26-33.
CLUTCH NUMBERS IN BROOKLYN
The Nets are 19-17 in clutch situations (with five points with five minutes) — which leads the NBA by three games. It might be a big reason why these numbers are the way they are, but at least they’re good and not bad.
John Schuhmann of NBA.com writes on Twitter how three Nets are in top-11 for most shots made to tie or take the lead in the final minute. His thread:
Kawhi Leonard’s go-ahead dunk last night tied him w/ Spencer Dinwiddie for the most buckets to tie or take the lead in the final minute of the 4th Q or OT this season. pic.twitter.com/booUFBbO4a
— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) February 23, 2019
And then DLo put himself on the map in the Charlotte game alone…
D’Angelo Russell doubled his total of buckets tie or take the lead in the final minute this season, getting Nos. 3 & 4 tonight in Charlotte.
— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) February 24, 2019
Updating… BKN has 3 – Dinwiddie (6), Harris (5) & Russell (4) – of the 21 players who have made 4+ buckets to tie or take the lead in final minute of 4th Q or OT this season.
Other teams w/ multiple guys w/ 4+…
TOR: Leonard (6) & Ibaka (4)
WAS: Beal (5) & Bryant (4)
— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) February 24, 2019
DON’T TAUNT DLO
Twice in last three Nets games, a player on opponents bench has mocked @Dloading “ice in my veins” by pointing to his left arm, Tristan Thompson of Cavs and Miles Bridges of Hornets. At the time of each mock, Cavs and Hornets seemed to have a safe lead.
They did not.
— NetsDaily.com (@NetsDaily) February 24, 2019
The story got enough attention that Bridges had to apologize.
We will forgive Tristan Thompson for not taking a similar tack. He has other things to worry about.
HOW HOT HARRIS? VERY HOT. HOT, HOT, HOT IN FACT
Joe Harris moved into first place in three-point shooting Monday, jumping ahead of Davis Bertans of the Spurs. Harris shot 5-of-6 while Bertans shot 0-of-2. Harris is now shooting 47.9 percent from deep, Bertans 47.1.
It’s a trend. Harris is shooting 19-of-26 (73.1 percent) over the last five games. He is averaging 19.2 points in those five contests.
IMPORTANCE OF COMPETENT OWNERSHIP
It’s rare when you have two owners, nonetheless two from different countries. You have Mikhail Prokhorov from Russia and now minority-stake owner, Joe Tsai, a citizen of Taiwan (and Canada!). Communication, cohesiveness, etc. are so important to run a successful business organization. It all starts at the top.
“We talk about everything well in advance. Every little nuance, every little option that could be there and should be there and probably won’t be there. But they’ve both shown the support we need from a basketball operations department.”
Don’t underestimate this when it comes to free agents considering Brooklyn. They have two competent owners in New York City who are willing to spend. Bigger than people realize.
For another perspective, head on over to Pounding the Rock, our Spurs sister site on SB Nation.
The Nets will face the Wizards at home on Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.