The Brooklyn Nets wiped out an 18-point third-quarter deficit against the Phoenix Suns, only to have the Suns turn the tables with a comeback of their own in handing the Nets a 122-114 loss at Barclays Center Tuesday night.
With the Nets up 106-98 with under seven minutes remaining, the Suns staged an 18-2 run to regain control of a game they had seemed to let slip away. After Phoenix scored nine straight points to reclaim the lead, 107-106, Caris LeVert answered to give Brooklyn its final lead at 108-107.
LeVert’s basket was the only one for the Nets in a stretch of nearly five minutes. Phoenix followed with another nine straight, capped by Dragan Bender’s 3-pointer for a 116-108 lead with 2:03 to go.
“They just took over,” said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. “We didn’t make plays. I thought our shot selection was iffy. I thought our shot selection was iffy all game. I think we set a Nets record for mid-range contested shots. We have to improve our shot selection and I think that will help our defense.”
THE BIG BROOKLYN RUN
The Nets were down 83-65 midway through third quarter, outscored coming out of halftime for the third straight game after trailing by six at the break. D’Angelo Russell scored, DeMarre Carroll followed with two free throws and an elbow jumper, Tyler Zeller scored inside, and the Nets had creeped back within 10.
Then they picked up speed. Spenceer Dinwiddie accelerated to the hoop for a layup and dished to Allen Crabbe for a 3-pointer. Crabbe knocked down a 17-footer off a handoff and screen from Zeller. Trevor Booker soared into the lane to put back a Crabbe miss from 3.
Dinwiddie then knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers, the first tying the game at 85 and the second giving Brooklyn its first lead since midway through the first quarter.
That made for a 23-2 Brooklyn run, but it didn’t stop there. By the time Rondae Hollis-Jefferson grabbed a defensive rebound and went end-to-end for a layup midway through the fourth quarter, the Nets had outscored the Suns by 26 points — 41-15 over a stretch of nearly 11 minutes. They were up 106-98 with just over six minutes to go.
“Give credit to our second unit,” said coach Kenny Atkinson. “I thought they all did a good job. I thought Tyler Zeller came in and gave us some really good minutes. Yeah, there’s an energy there. They did a good job really getting us back in the game, because we weren’t in the game.”
TRUSSELL CARRIES NETS EARLY
TD’Angelo Russell led all scorers with 33 points, his season high and the most by a Net this season. The third-year guard scored 20 of Brooklyn’s 53 first-half points. He finished the game shooting 11-of-21 from the field and 9-of-11 from the line, with six rebounds and four assists.
BEAT ON THE BOARDS
The Nets were outrebounded 66-44 as three Phoenix players notched double figures in rebounds — Alex Len (15), Tyson Chandler (13) and TJ Warren (11).
“I thought Warren really hurt us,” said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. “He had some big offensive rebounds at the end. We couldn’t keep him off. I think (Devin) Booker attracts a lot of attention. You try to dig and help on him and then missed a couple and Warren slices in there. Big-time rebounds. They hurt.”
Booker had 30 points for Phoenix, including 5-of-8 shooting from 3-point range. The Suns connected on 45.5 percent of their 3-point attempts (10-for-22).
HOLLIS-JEFFERSON’S CAREER HIGH
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson notched a career-high 21 points, shooting 8-of-16 from the field and 5-of-7 from the free throw line while grabbing seven rebounds.
Through eight games, Hollis-Jefferson is averaging 15.0 points and shooting 51 percent from the field and 85 percent from the line.