The Brooklyn Nets took on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Brooklyn amid concerns of a blizzard, but what everyone should’ve been worried about was Russell Westbrook coming to town. Despite Brooklyn keeping the score even through two quarters, Oklahoma City was able to pull away for a final score of 122-104 behind Westbrook’s 25 points, 19 assists, and 12 rebounds.
The Nets saw big games from their core of starters, but for the first time since the All-Star break the bench did not contribute whatsoever. The biggest takeaways from this game were Brook-Lin combined for almost 50 points, Caris LeVert is figuring things out, when the bench doesn’t produce the Nets don’t win, and Brooklyn’s inability to create in the second half helped lead to their downfall.
Jeremy Lin & Brook Lopez Combine For Almost 50 Points
Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez are the unquestioned leaders of this team. Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson may be regarded as key building blocks or cornerstones of the future, but make no mistake this team belongs to Brook-Lin. They showed why that’s the case last night after they combined for almost half of Brooklyn’s points.
Brook ended with 25 points and six rebounds while shooting nine of fifteen from the floor and three of six from deep in 28 minutes. Lin, playing through a twisted ankle, finished with 24 points, five assists, two rebounds, one block, and one steal on eight of fifteen shooting from the floor in 26 minutes.
The two have been turnover prone as of late, but tonight they combined for only five giveaways. Given that they were matched up against athletic, opportunistic defenders like Westbrook and Victor Oladipo on the perimeter and a defensive stopper like Steven Adams in the paint, only turning the ball over five times between them was pretty good.
When these two players are healthy for Brooklyn, the team can compete against most opponents. With all the recent features about how long it will take Brooklyn to rebuild (the consensus seems to be 2020-2021), they also say both Lopez and Lin could (or should) be moved. I don’t see the rebuild being that daunting and I don’t think moving those players would accelerate it greatly. DeMarcus Cousins lowered Brook’s price immensely and while Lin is losing valuable years of his prime toiling in obscurity with Brooklyn, he knew what he was signing up for.
Things Are Clicking For Caris LeVert
After a tumultuous start to Caris LeVert’s season, it looks like he is figuring things out now that he is getting starter minutes. Coming off of an incredible defensive performance against Carmelo Anthony in the closing minutes of the victory, LeVert ended this game with 16 points, two assists, five rebounds, and three steals on four of six shooting from the floor and one of two from deep.
LeVert has gotten incredibly good at picking off passes and taking them coast to coast for easy dunks in transition. His nose for the ball and defensive instincts are off the charts for a rookie, especially one that went as late as LeVert did. He did a good job of contesting shots and sticking close to Andre Roberson and Oladipo, in addition to swiping the ball three times.