The Brooklyn Nets’ western reunion trip continues tonight with a visit to the Denver Nuggets. It’s the second night of a back-to-back following Monday night’s win against the Phoenix Suns.
The Nets faced both the Nuggets and Suns back in Brooklyn within the last 10 days, so this set completes the season series with both teams before the Nets move on to wrap up their five-game swing against Portland and Utah later this week.
NETS SNAP SKID VS. SUNS
Brooklyn halted a four-game losing streak and picked up its first road win of the season with Monday night’s 98-92 win in Phoenix against the Suns.
D’Angelo Russell led the Nets with 28 points and eight assists, plus six rebounds. DeMarre Carroll had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, Allen Crabbe scored 15 points while shooting 3-for-4 from 3-point range and Joe Harris had 18 points with three 3-pointers.
Russell had 13 points in the fourth quarter as the Nets, trailing 75-74 with nine minutes to go, pulled away for the win. Brooklyn led by as many as 15 points in the first half as Harris scored 14 points before halftime.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game ever played in the NBA,” said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. “A lot of tugging and clawing. A lot of fouls. But we found a way. I thought our defense was good. We had contributions from a lot of guys.”
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson preaches taking care of the basketball, and point guard Spencer Dinwiddie is on board. Against Phoenix on Monday night, Dinwiddie had zero turnovers in 26 minutes while registering seven assists.
That improved Dinwiddie’s assist to turnover ratio to 4.5, fourth in the NBA. In five of Brooklyn’s 10 games, Dinwiddie has had either one or zero turnovers, and has yet to turn the ball over more than twice in a game while averaging 22.5 minutes per game.
SHORT ON BIGS
While forward Quincy Acy returned after missing three games with a groin strain, the Nets were without 6-foot-8 Trevor Booker and 6-11 Jarrett Allen on Monday night. The frontcourt rotation took a further hit for the evening when Rondae Hollis-Jefferson suffered a right hip contusion on the final possession of the first half and did not return.
The injuries have led to more minutes for 7-foot veteran Tyler Zeller over the last week. Zeller has played 15-plus minutes in each of the last three games and had a season-high 12 points against the Suns.
Allen, Booker and Hollis-Jefferson will all be out against the Nuggets on Tuesday night.
ABOUT THE NUGGETS
The Nuggets have won four of their last six, dropping their most recent game to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday, 127-108. That stretch includes a 124-111 win over the Nets in Brooklyn on Oct. 29. With the Nets up 63-60 at halftime, Denver took over in the third quarter and carried a 16-point lead into the fourth quarter. Jamal Murray had 26 points for Denver and Nikola Jokic had 21 points and 14 rebounds.
Denver is ninth in the NBA in making 38 percent of its 3-point attempts, with Gary Harris, Nikola Jokic, Emmanuel Mudiay and Will Barton all over 40 percent. The Nuggets burned the Nets with 55-percent shooting beyond the arc in their previous meeting. The Nuggets don’t fire from three at a particularly high rate though. Their 27.1 attempts per game are 18th in the league.
Getting to the rim is more Denver’s style. The Nuggets are in the top five in the NBA in fast break points per game, second chance points per game and points in the paint per game.
Overall, the Nuggets are featuring a balanced scoring attack, with six players averaging at least 12.2 points per game, led by Joikic’s 15.6. Jokic, the 6-foot-10 22-year-old, is also averaging 11.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.