One month back, the Nets were 8-18 and we were discussing tanking … and Zion Williamson.
Now, at the mid-point of the season, we’re talking about the Brooklyn Nets being the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Nets (20-21) won its third straight game with a dominating 117-100 victory over the Chicago Bulls (10-30), Sunday afternoon.
It’s their 12th win in the last 15 games and the first time they’ve won 20 games by the midway point since 2012-2013, the first season in Brooklyn. They didn’t win their 20th game last season until February 26. To add to that, they’re 10-10 on the road.
Kenny Atkinson kept it simple: “We’re getting contributions from everybody. That’s important.”
The Nets had a hard time pulling away in the first half. They took a 12-point lead, but Zach LaVine lifted Chicago on a 14-0 run and a tie ballgame at half.
But then the third quarter started and the Nets started punching.
Behind D’Angelo Russell and Jarrett Allen’s lead, the Nets began the second half on a 12-3 run and took their largest lead of the night at that point at 15, capped off with a Shabazz Napier three-pointer.
The Nets continued the rout as Russell put Chicago out following his sixth and final three-pointer on the night. The Nets went up 104-87 with 6:25 and Russell’s night would be cut short early with a game tomorrow at Boston.
“We’ve been at it a long time… I kind of had to sit back in my seat today because it was running by itself,” Atkinson said. “They knew what to do and they were talking. That’s the ideal scenario for a coach.”
Russell finished with 28 points, five assists, four rebounds to go along with six three’s on 14 attempts. He’s tallied 20+ points in each of the last four games he’s appeared in, matching the longest streak of 20-point games in his career. In those four games, he’s averaging 26.5 points and
He’s averaging 26.5 points and 7.5 assists over those last four.
Allen was a monster inside the paint on both ends, blocking shots and rattling the rim with electrifying dunks. He finished with 19 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots. The two blocked shots extended his season-best streak of games with multiple blocks to five.
Then, it was the bench that got the job done once again. They out-scored Chicago’s bench 52-29, led by DeMarre Carroll, who finished with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Carroll has recorded 18+ points in a career-high four straight games and 20+ points in a career-high two straight.
The Nets assisted on 29 of 42 made field goals. They also nailed 16 three’s on 46 attempts, just how they want to play — or as Kenny Atkinson always says: Whatever the defense gives us.
Zach LaVine led the reeling Bulls with 27 points on the night. They’ve lost four straight games and sit in the basement of the East.
And for the first time in a long time, we aren’t putting the Nets in the “basement” category.
It’s nice watching the Nets have fun. They’re cohesive, work extremely hard and humble in the process. They deserve it.
— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) January 6, 2019
The Nets entered Sunday’s matinee affair as sole controllers of the seventh seed in the East by .001 percent! Things are too close for comfort and Brooklyn is now a half game ahead. While they’re IN right now, they’re also only a game away from being the 10th seed.
TRACKING LONG ISLAND
The Long Island Nets are turning into a G League powerhouse right in front of our eyes. Trajan Langdon and Matt Riccardi have done a very good job of acquiring and managing talent, while Will Weaver, former Nets assistant turned head coach in Long Island, has these guys playing inspired ball.
They’re currently the first seed in the Eastern Conference with a 16-6 record — one game ahead of the Westchester Knicks. The team is coming off a 126-105 victory over Raptors 905 behind a triple double effort from Ohio State alum, Shannon Scott.
Look for Langdon and Riccardi to add at least one roster player this week. Similarly, with Alan Williams headed to China, Brooklyn has an opening for a two-way deal.
NETS ARE HEADING TO CHINA
TenCent, the NBA’s digital partner, confirmed reports that the Nets and Lakers will play a pre-season game(s) in China in 2019. This comes as no surprise since Nets’ minority-stake owner, Joe Tsai, took over just three months back. As for the Lakers? Well, LeBron.
For a different perspective, take a look at Blog-a-Bull, our Bulls sister site on SB Nation.
Next: The Nets will face the Boston Celtics at 7:30 PM on Monday. Yup, another back-to-back!