Five Thoughts From The Nets’ 115-110 Win Over The Lakers & HC Kenny Atkinson on Jared Dudley Being Like The 42-Yr-Old Guy at The Park Playing Pickup (Video)Read Now
Here are my thoughts from the Nets’ win over the Lakers on Tuesday night in Brooklyn.
1. Jarrett Allen’s block on LeBron set the tone
It was early in the first quarter, and LeBron received a pass and drove down a seemingly wide open lane to the rim. Jarrett Allen, defying all common sense and fear of being posterized, rotates over, elevates, and meets LeBron at the top of his jump for a huge block.
Let’s not get carried away. This wasn’t the greatest block of all time, and it didn’t create some fictitious momentum that the Nets rode all the way to a victory. But, it did set the tone for how the Nets were going to play this game. The Lakers were 18-12 heading into the game Tuesday night, and though they lost to the Wizards on Sunday, the team had been playing well and LeBron was moving up the MVP charts as he does at some point every season. This was an important game for the Nets who were on a five-game winning streak and looking to continue to build their confidence and get on the right side of .500.
Allen’s block on LeBron got his teammates up off the bench and appeared to instill a sense of confidence and belief in the squad as they withstood every Lakers’ run, and an onslaught by LeBron. More on him later.
In case you missed it, take a look at the block again.
2. Balanced scoring effort
The Nets had six players with double-digits in points on Tuesday night. D’Angelo Russell led the way with 22. Joe Harris finished with 19, Spencer Dinwiddie with 18, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with 17, and DeMarre Carroll and Jared Dudley each with 13. That’s 102 of the Nets 115 points.
At the beginning of the season, Caris LeVert emerged as the team’s go-to scorer and was leading the team with almost 20 ppg. After he went down with that terrible leg injury, the Nets were going to have to win by committee. But getting to that point was a struggle. The team had lost eight games in a row before this current six-game win streak. Now that there is continuity, the Nets have an identity and everyone knows their roles, this team will be fighting all season for a shot at the playoffs. That’s a good thing.
3. Late game execution has improved dramatically
The Nets’ inability to close out games during their losing streak and all of last season is well documented. But, it’s funny what a few wins can do for a team’s confidence. After countless heartbreaking, buzzer beater losses, the team had a player’s only meeting and film session. By all accounts, it was positive and the players challenged each other to be better. So far so good.
During Tuesday night’s game when LeBron and Lonzo Ball were cutting into the Nets lead late in the fourth quarter, there was no panic from the Nets. They were confident, strong with the basketball, trusted one another and executed down the stretch.
In his postgame availability, Kenny Atkinson talked about what has changed for his team regarding late-game execution.
Another point, regarding the Nets’ late-game execution, was brought up by Lakers head coach Luke Walton in his post-game comments. Following the game he spoke about a few specific plays by Nets veteran Jared Dudley, saying:
Defensively we’ve got to do a better job. Brooklyn’s a good team, but we can’t just let players blow by us. I
think Jared Dudley had 10 points in the fourth quarter. Three of them were blow-by layups. All respect to
Dudley – he’s been a good NBA player for years – he shouldn’t be blowing by anyone at this stage of his
career. Things that we need to keep getting better at, we will. Time to let it hurt, get back home, get back
to work and get better.
This is the new NBA, so Dudley took to Twitter to respond. But it wasn’t typical shade. Dudley had a specific Xs and Os response.
Dudley set the Lakers up all game to take advantage in the fourth. That’s veteran savvy.
4. The mood around the Nets is very positive
A six-game win streak will certainly lift the spirits of any team. The Nets postgame locker room was downright giddy. Players were making jokes with each other and the assembled media. The players stopped to talk to various people in the tunnels and hallways in the bowels of the Barclays Center, expressing sheer joy.
For fans, this game is entertainment. A distraction from their everyday lives, something they hope to enjoy for a few hours a day. But for these players, this is their life. This is their career and livelihood. It’s so much nicer to come to work every day when the atmosphere is positive and light.
5. LeBron is very good at basketball
36 points, 13 rebounds, 8 assists in 41 minutes of play. Another “ho-hum” stat line in the legendary career of, arguably, the greatest basketball player of all time (I currently have him #2 all-time). Last night’s performance was nothing new from Bron, we’ve seen this movie going on sixteen seasons now. We have marveled and watched this man since he was a young boy at St. Vincent-St. Mary high school in Ohio. He entered the league with the highest of expectations and has lived up to every single one of them. It truly has been incredible to watch over the years.
Despite the loss on Tuesday night, watching Bron, was like watching a truly exceptional artist at work. He knows every angle, location, and ball trajectory. His brain is like a computer, calculating every potential move with a counter in a matter of seconds. When the Lakers were making their run late in the fourth he was unstoppable, as he so often is. He got to whatever spot he wanted, whenever he wanted and hit his teammates with pinpoint passes that led to scores. Yes, the Lakers lost this game. But the presence of LeBron is the rising tide that lifts all ships.
Kenny Atkinson loves his guys and is particularly fond of veteran Jared Dudley. He used an old man playing pick up hoops analogy to describe JD