Nets look to start new winning streak vs. Suns
NEW YORK — The Brooklyn Nets finally lost a game, all the plays they were making in the fourth quarter for two weeks did not happen and their longest winning streak in nearly six years finally ended Friday night against the Indiana Pacers.
On Sunday, they attempt to start a new winning streak when they host the Phoenix Suns.
In one of the wildest pendulum swings in team history, the Nets followed an eight-game losing streak from Nov. 21-Dec. 5 with seven straight wins from Dec. 7-Dec. 19. The losing streak featured five losses by single digits and the winning streak featured six wins by single digits.
Overall, the Nets have played 22 games decided by single digits and won 10 of those. In Friday’s 114-106 loss to the Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn rallied from being down 13 points after the opening quarter and held a three-point lead with three minutes left only to finish the game by getting outscored 14-3 the rest of the way.
“We could really never stop them,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said after being ejected in the final minutes We didn’t stop them all night. I think we got in a big hole – 37-point first quarter and then fourth quarter we couldn’t stop them either. We tried some different things. We tried mucking up the game a little, some different defenses, and never found that key to stopping them.”
The Nets lost despite shooting a season-high 64.7 percent from 3-point range in the second half and handing out 28 assists. The Nets also held a 41-29 rebounding edge and in their last eight games, they are outrebounding opponents 353-232.
While Spencer Dinwiddie was held to 16 points on 4 of 12 shooting and D’Angelo Russell was limited to three points, rookie Rodions Kurucs continued to play well. Kurucs led the Nets in scoring for the first time by scoring a career-high 24 points on 6 of 11 shooting.
“Although it did come down to the end, I think we dug ourselves a hole early on and we were just kind of climbing back over the course of the game,” Brooklyn guard Joe Harris said. “Obviously, we had the lead – we were up by four at one point and then let it slip again – but you can’t give up 37 in the first, and you just can’t dig yourself a hole early like that.”
Sunday will be the fourth stop of Phoenix’s season-high five-game trip. The Suns are 2-1 on the trip but maybe fatigued after taking a 149-146 triple-overtime loss in Washington on Saturday that snapped a four-game winning streak.
Phoenix is averaging 128.3 points on the trip but took the loss after blowing a seven-point lead late in regulation and wound up going to triple overtime for the first time since March 22, 2011, as it had no answers for Bradley Beal, who recorded a triple-double and scored 40 points while John Wall sat out.
“When your best player is not playing, the other guys take on more responsibilities,” Suns coach Igor Kokoskov said. “Beal was, he came ready and understanding that his role tonight was going to be different.”
Devin Booker scored 33 points and is averaging 31 points in four games since returning from a six-game absence due to a hamstring injury. T.J. Warren added 28 and is averaging 24.8 in his last six games.
Sunday will be the second time in Brooklyn for Kelly Oubre Jr in the last 10 days.
Oubre’s last game with the Wizards was in a 120-113 loss at Brooklyn on Dec. 14. After Oubre scored 10 points, reports surfaced he was traded to Memphis in a three-way trade that sent Trevor Ariza to Washington.
While Ariza landed in Washington, Oubre landed in Phoenix in a modified version of the original deal. The deal did not become official until Monday and Oubre will be appearing in his third game for the Suns after scoring 20 on Saturday.
“It was crazy,” Oubre said. “It was hectic, man. The first time I felt that was on draft night. Not really knowing what’s going on or where I was going to go.”
Brooklyn is 6-1 in the last seven meetings.