A team as bad as the Nets should be desperate, not complacent. And they got back to playing that way in Saturdays 121-111 win over Orlando.
After getting too full of themselves in losses to Philadelphia and Detroit, Brooklyn brought back the grit in front of 15,976 at Barclays Center.
I heard that word [complacency] also. I dont really get that. Its being able to deal with the little bit of success weve had, winning three out of four, and being able to do it again and again and over and over. There should be no complacency, obviously. But its really just handling a little success for our young guys, and really for the whole roster, said coach Kenny Atkinson, driving hard to the finish.
First of all, were not going to rest [our starters]. Were going to keep [trying to win out]. Ive been saying how important it is for us to finish the season strong. Seeing more of Jeremy [Lin] together with the group is helpful also. But our mentality is we need to be on wed love to have positive momentum going into this important offseason.
They got a team-high 30 points from Brook Lopez, who is now just 89 points behind Buck Williams for the teams all-time record for career points with six games left. And they showed fight, like Lin chasing a loose ball on the baseline and making a behind-the-back pass to save the possession. But frankly it was the bench that won this one for the Nets (17-59), led by Trevor Booker.
Booker poured in a season-high 23 points and eight rebounds, and he teamed with Spencer Dinwiddie to produce every single score in an 11-0 run that broke an 89-all tie going into the fourth and blew the game open.
It was largely a microcosm of how Atkinson wants to play. Even though they hit only 8-of-31 from deep, they got good looks and drove the ball relentlessly at the Magic. They scored a season-high 72 points in the paint, only the sixth time theyd cracked 70 since the statistic became official in the 1996-97 season.
Lopez usually struggles against the Magic, his 14.9 points per game average against them is his worst against any team. But not Saturday night. After the Nets got down by double-digits early, with every sign pointing toward it not being their night, he led the way back.
There was Nikola Vucevic (27 points) trying to throw an entry lob in to Aaron Gordon (22 points), only to see the ball bounce off the rim, up and through for a fluke 3-pointer. And there was Gordon alley-oop to send the Nets into a timeout down 15-5. But Lopezs dozen first-quarter points helped them knot it at 33-all after one, and their 17-9 spurt in the second spotted them a 50-45 lead.
The Nets were locked in an 89-all tie to start the fourth quarter, when Booker and Dinwiddie helped pick that lock with every point in an 11-0 run.
Booker scored inside, and Dinwiddie hit a short pullup for a 93-89 lead. Bookers coast-to-coast floater put the Nets ahead by six, and sent Orlando into a timeout with 9:58 to play. But it didnt stem Brooklyns tide.
Dinwiddies conventional three-point play made it 98-89, and the two combined for some nice teamwork to cap the run. Booker raced the ball upcourt, as hes wont to do, and kicked it back out to Dinwiddie at the 3-point arc. The guard dropped it back inside to Booker for a short floater and 100-89 cushion.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson came off the court clutching his shoulder and in clear discomfort with 6:49 left in the 3rd quarter.