LeVert’s season-high 17 lead Nets over Hawks
ATLANTA — The Brooklyn Nets are learning that Caris LeVert may be a partial answer to their problem at point guard.
With Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell out and with Spencer Dinwiddie showing fatigue, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson was pleased to see LeVert come off the bench, provide some quality minutes at point guard and respond with one of his best games.
LeVert scored a season-high 17 points, and Brooklyn broke the game open with a 17-0 run to open the second half en route to a 110-90 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday at Philips Arena.
“Spencer was on fumes and Caris really came in and took the torch,” Atkinson said. “He was really good in the pick-and-roll. He can really pass the ball. He had a couple nice lobs, a couple nice wrap-arounds. Good to see him have a good game.”
LeVert, a second-year guard from Michigan, entered the game averaging 10.3 points. He almost equaled that with nine first-half points. He shot 7-for-13 from the field and matched his career best with seven assists. LeVert’s previous best scoring night was a 16-point effort against the Hawks on Oct. 22.
“With Jeremy and D’Angelo out, Caris is our de facto second-unit point guard,” Atkinson said. “We’ve seen his game grow since he’s taken that role. He’s gotten in a comfort zone. When guys are out, sometimes you discover things you didn’t know. We had talked about him when we drafted him if he could play point guard. It’s nice to see him starting to feel comfortable, because we needed it.”
The Nets avenged a 114-102 loss to the Hawks in Brooklyn on Saturday, and they have won two of three meetings against Atlanta this season. Brooklyn has won three of its past five games overall. Atlanta has lost three of its past five.
Brooklyn (9-14) also got 16 points from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, 13 points each from ex-Hawk DeMarre Carroll and Dinwiddie and 11 each from Jarrett Allen and Joe Harris.
Atlanta (5-18) was led in scoring by Dennis Schroder with 19 points. Kent Bazemore added 13 points and five assists but committed six turnovers. DeAndre Bembry came off the bench to score 13.
The Hawks shot 47.7 percent in the first half, with Schroder making his first seven shots and shooting 8-for-10 from the floor. The Nets stayed in the game with some impressive 3-point shooting, making 10 of 22, with Dinwiddie knocking down three.
“I think we came out with energy in the first quarter, in the second quarter the same,” Schroder said. “Third quarter, we didn’t. We have to give them credit for that. They made their shots, got some stops, and that’s the reason we lost the game.”
Atlanta led 54-53 at halftime but went cold in the third quarter, missing its first 13 shots from the field. Brooklyn scored the first 17 points in the period and led 70-54 with 6:58 left. The Hawks didn’t get their first field goal in the third quarter until Schroder scored with 4:51 remaining.
“Obviously the game changed in the third quarter,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. “A lot of credit to Brooklyn. Both ends of the court, they took their game up. Execution, defense, energy. We hit a bit of a wall. ... The game just changed there.”
Atlanta cut the lead to nine when Luke Babbitt made a 3-pointer, but Harris answered with a trey on the other end and the Nets led 84-69 at the end of the third quarter. That was part of a 18-5 run that carried into the fourth quarter and included back-to-back dunks by Allen and saw the Nets take a 21-point lead.
For the game, Brooklyn shot 48.2 percent from the field while Atlanta hit 36.6 percent.
“It was just a good bounce-back,” Atkinson said. “After the last game, they dominated it at every position and I was interested to see how our guys would respond. They went toe-to-toe with us in the first half, and I thought our guys did a great job starting that third quarter and our bench did a fine job extending the lead.”
NOTES: Atlanta allowed Brooklyn to score 33 points in the first quarter and 31 in the third quarter. The Hawks have allowed the opposition to score at least 30 points in 30 quarters this season. ... The Hawks dropped to 2-9 at home. ... Atlanta started Miles Plumlee at center for the second consecutive game. He finished with one point and seven rebounds. ... Brooklyn sent G Isaiah Whitehead to a G League assignment with Long Island. ... Atlanta plays again on Wednesday at Orlando. Brooklyn returns home on Thursday for a game against Oklahoma City.