Five Thoughts From The Nets’ 111-103 Win Against The Suns, And Jared Dudley Comparing Deandre Ayton to a Hall of Fame Center (Video)Read Now
Here are five thoughts from the Nets’ win against the Suns on Sunday night at Barclays Center.
1. Balanced Scoring
The Nets scored 111 points against the Suns on Sunday night. The Suns were coming off a 3OT loss Saturday night to the Wizards, so there was optimism in Brooklyn that this was a game the Nets should win. It was a close game after one quarter, then the Nets stretched their lead and the Suns mounted a comeback late in the fourth.
The key for the Nets tonight was balance. They had fresher guys that were able to score and make plays when the game got tight. Six players scored in double figures for the Nets. Spencer Dinwiddie – 24, D’Angelo Russell – 18, Rodions Kurucs – 16, Ed Davis – 15, Joe Harris – 13, and Jarrett Allen – 11.
Scoring as a collective effort is something head coach Kenny Atkinson has talked about all season. Without a real “go-to guy”, though Nets fans will argue it’s Dinwiddie or Russell, this is how the Nets will have to win games as they move into the second half of the season.
The Nets scored 60 points in the paint, 30 points from behind the arc, and 21 from the free throw line. That adds up to 111. The only area on the floor the Nets failed to score from was the midrange, missing all ten attempts.
2. Fourth Quarter Inconsistency Showed Up Again
During the Nets’ win streak (7), which was snapped against the Pacers on Friday, the team cleaned up a lot of their fourth-quarter issues. They limited turnovers, trusted one another, and found continuity and flow on offense and connectivity on defense. Those attributes were missing on Sunday night, and the team looked like it was falling back into some old habits. Poor defense, lack of ball movement, and isolation on offense. The Suns outscored the Nets 29-20 in the fourth, luckily for Brooklyn, the lead was big enough and they were able to make just enough plays to close the game out.
Despite the win, Atkinson was not pleased with some of the things he saw from his team in that closing quarter. He put the onus on himself, D’Angelo and Spencer to find things that work and can be executed down the stretch.
Kenny Atkinson on fourth quarter inconsistency.
3. Rodions Kurucs first career double-double
The 6’9″ rookie from Latvia scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Kenny has said multiple times, that “Rodi” is making it hard to not play him. This is a good problem for Kenny and the Nets to have. A rookie who is progressing at a level faster than anticipated. The Nets are trying to build a culture that will produce winning, and ultimately championship, level basketball. The organization needs to know which players will be a part of that going forward. So far it looks like Rodi is one of them.
Following the game, he spoke about not even knowing he had a double-double.
Nets fans should temper their excitement. He’s still a rookie and will undoubtedly face challenges in this league. He needs to add some muscle to his frame, tighten his handle, and pick up more of the nuances of the NBA game. But, he loves the game and you can see that in the way he approaches everything and the way he plays. The other thing he possesses is confidence, and that matters a ton.
When talking postgame about the differences between the NBA and the Euroleague, he exuded all the confidence in the world.
4. Deandre Ayton for ROY?
No. I still believe Luka Doncic has been the better rookie and his play has led to winning basketball. However, let’s not pretend Ayton hasn’t been good. Especially of late. Despite the loss on Sunday, he finished with 26 points, 18 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals. In his last five games, he is averaging almost 23 points per game (22.8) and grabbing almost 16 rebounds (15.6). The kid is a walking double-double. He was giving Nets big man Jarrett Allen fits all night. Yes, his defense needs to improve, and he seems to disappear at times. But he will get better. Besides Devin Booker (who is excellent), Josh Jackson, and Mikal Bridges (rookie) that excites you? Give the Suns a starting level point guard or a slightly better than average point guard and this team might look a lot different. They’d certainly have more wins.
Back to Ayton. The sky’s the limit for this young man and that’s why the Suns drafted him #1 overall in June. Nets veteran and ex-Suns player Jared Dudley sees big things for Ayton. In his postgame media availability, check out who he compared Ayton to.
5. It’s Christmas
The NBA has five matchups on Christmas Day that promise to be really exciting. The Nets will be off spending time with their families and getting ready for the second half of the season. Yes, folks. By New Year’s Eve, the Nets and the rest of the NBA will be about halfway through the season.
The Nets are rolling into the holidays, winners of 8 of their last 10 and feeling good about themselves. Jared Dudley was asked postgame (by yours truly) if he had one Christmas wish for his team, what would it be? As always he was very thoughtful in his answer.
Finally, it’s Christmas time, the holiday season, etc. What does it all mean? Depending on your faith, cultural background, this time of year can mean different things to different people. One thing we can probably all agree on is, this is the season of perpetual hope, an opportunity to give thanks, time for peace on earth and good will towards others. That’s what this season means to me. To that end, thank you to all of you who read my work on the Nets, the NBA and all other content that I produce, it is greatly appreciated. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!