Nets Edge Suns for Second-Straight Victory
(NEW YORK) — Maybe, just maybe the Brooklyn Nets are a much better team than we give them credit for.
Brook Lopez scored 23 points to help the Nets defeat the Phoenix Suns 94-91 on Tuesday night for their fourth straight win at home. It also marks the first time all season that Brooklyn has won consecutive games.
Brandon Knight led the Suns (8-10) with 26 points, while Eric Bledsoe chipped in 17.
The Nets (5-13) led 51-42 at halftime before the Suns came out firing in the third quarter. Knight led them on a 16-2 run that game them a six-point lead. Bledsoe hit a buzzer beating 3-pointer to give the Suns a 73-70 lead heading into the final quarter.
Phoenix led by nine points in the fourth quarter but couldn’t hang onto the lead as Brooklyn battled back to take control of the game for good. Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington, and Lopez hit some tough shots down the stretch to keep the Suns at bay. Joe Johnson and Thaddeus Young each hit shots in the final two minutes to hold the lead. Trailing by three points with 4 seconds remaining, they couldn’t get a shot off after inbounding in the frontcourt.
Analysis: It was a solid win for the Nets. After heartbreaking losses to Oklahoma City and Cleveland last week, Brooklyn responded with close wins over two up-and-coming teams. The Nets could’ve mailed in their season after a tough start, but they’ve started showing major signs of improvement in recent weeks.
The Nets are just 5-13 through 18 games. Two years ago, they had the exact same record with a roster that featured Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett. They were able to turn things around and advance to the second round of the playoffs. This Nets team doesn’t have nearly as much talent to pull off that feat again, but it’s a long NBA season. Anything can happen over the next five months.
Stellar Bench Play: Larkin and Ellington were huge off the bench for the Nets. Larkin contributed 11 points, eight assists, and five rebounds off the bench. His driving layup with four minutes remaining gave the Nets an 87-85 lead. Ellington scored 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting and has been a more consistent player as of late. Thomas Robinson set the tone in the first quarter with several highlight reel plays.
Mirza’s Return: Suns reserve forward Mirza Teletovic, who spent the past three seasons with the Nets, returned to Barclays Center for the first time since signing with Phoenix during the offseason. The former fan favorite received a warm applause from the crowd upon checking into the game during the first quarter. He finished with 12 points.
No Bargnani: Nets forward Andrea Bargnani missed the game with a left hamstring injury. He was hurt in Sunday’s victory over the Detroit Pistons. Coach Lionel Hollins said after the game that there is no current timetable for his return.
Up next for the Nets is a trip to Madison Square Garden to take on the New York Knicks on Friday night, followed by a six-game homestand.