The Brooklyn Nets finally have a road win this season, jumping that hurdle with a 122-104 win over the Phoenix Suns, led by Sean Kilpatrick, Trevor Booker and even Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, as Jeremy Lin remains sidelines with a hamstring injury.
The key word to take from this win? Teamwork, which was repeated by Brook Lopez in the post game interview. Lopez wasn’t very good in this game, despite showing his improving range and knack for big 3-pointers. He finished with 11 points, but the Nets being able to defer to others, even with Lin still out of the picture, shows that whatever it is that Kenny Atkinson and Sean Marks are trying to build has potential, and might already be working to a certain degree. It obviously helps that the opponents were the Suns, but holding Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker to only 19 points and 6-of-26 from the field is more than just luck and bad shots.
The Nets don’t have the concussed Isaiah Whitehead. No Lin. No Caris LeVert, still not making his NBA debut. No Greivis Vasquez. And they don’t seem too happy about giving Randy Foye or Yogi Ferrell too many minutes? The answer to all the problems is Kilpatrick. Not a point guard, but in the motion offense it’s not that important, and he seems to be getting some good advice from Lin and Atkinson behind the scenes. Kilpatrick finished with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists and when Lin does return, the weakness and inconsistency of Bojan Bogdanovic should push Kilpatrick into the lineup instead of him.
Trevor Booker did his thing, as always. He scored 19 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, added 4 assists. He’s doing a lot of everything, which the Nets need as much as possible of at the current state of business. There’s more help on the glass coming from the outside after the Nets were awful rebounding the ball in the first few games. Booker is a huge part of that, but this specific game, it was the suddenly completely legitimate starter Hollis-Jefferson who stood out.
After posting some awful numbers, Hollis-Jefferson has scored in double figures three times in the last four games (Nets have gone 2-2 in them). He finished with a team high 20 points to go with 13 rebounds. He’s not a changed man. He took only two shots outside the paint, making one of them. He makes his living from very close range. But he’s a lot more aggressive with the ball, which led to 11 free throw attempts, making 10 of them. Rondae himself attributes the change to his new headband swag.
The Nets had yet another terrible third quarter, a problem they can’t seem to shake. But their defensive woes didn’t sink them on this occasion, scoring at least 32 points in each of the final three quarters, which including a 20-4 to close out the game. It puts the Nets at 4-5, with games against the Clippers, Lakers and Thunder coming up. They’ve already broken the away jinx on this road trip, maybe they can evolve a bit further as a team despite the difficult competition they’re going to face in the next few days?
— Greg Logan (@GregLogan1) November 13, 2016
Even if Lin is found to be 100% healthy, I doubt that putting him on the floor to guard Russell Westbrook is the best of ideas. Someone coming off a hamstring injury shouldn’t be chasing one of the more physical players in the league on his return game. The Nets probably would prefer to have more options at point guard during this road trip but for a team thinking about building something and the future, rushing in Lin too soon doesn’t sound like the kind of move you’d expect from a front office committed to the long term plan.