Nets rout Wizards to halt four-game skid
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Which came first for the Brooklyn Nets Friday night? Defensive intensity or an aggressive, attack-the-rim offensive mindset?
“I think they feed each other,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said after the Nets crushed the Washington Wizards 119-84 at Barclays Center.
What is certain is the Nets lacked that in a four-game losing streak they emphatically snapped with their second win over the Wizards in 10 days.
“I don’t think any of us were too comfortable after that Sacramento loss,” Atkinson said of a 104-99 home loss to the Kings on Wednesday night. “It hurt and it was a bad loss, no disrespect to Sacramento, but they were on a back-to-back and we all felt frustrated that we didn’t show the right mentality for where we are.”
Atkinson said he harped on how much his team was “slipping in our drive game” and it appeared the players were tired of hearing that. While they still attempted 41 3-pointers, making 14 of them, the Nets attacked the basked with ferocity, scoring 48 points in the paint and outrebounding the Wizards 47-28.
It was statistically the best defensive performance of the year for Brooklyn (12-19). The Wizards’ 84 points were the fewest they gave up all year. Washington’s dynamic backcourt duo of Bradley Beal (four points on 2-of-15 shooting) and John Wall (10 points on 4-of-11 shooting in 17 minutes) were kept in check.
“We just sustained it, stayed focused, locked in on defensive principles, locked in on guys we needed to stop, limited them to what they do best,” Brooklyn guard Allan Crabbe said. “It was consistent from first (quarter) through fourth (quarter).”
Forward Kelly Oubre came off the bench to score a team-high 13 points for the Wizards (17-15), who were held below 100 points for the fourth time in the last six games.
“We came out missing easy shots, didn’t take care of the ball,” Wall said. “Then when they got out in transition, they scored some baskets.”
Wizards coach Scott Brooks limited Wall’s minutes on the front end of back-to-back games because the star guard is returning from a knee injury.
“This is probably one of the last games, if everything keeps going in the direction that we need him to go, then no more restrictions,” he said. “That’s the positive. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.”
The Nets brought the intensity from the opening tipoff in a game they led by as many as 30 points and never trailed. Forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson led the charge with 21 points, 11 rebounds and six assists as the Nets had six players score in double figures, including swingman Caris LeVert, who came off the bench to score 17 points.
Brooklyn was up by 10 at the half but wasn’t satisfied. Guard Spencer Dinwiddie had the hot hand out of the break, scoring the Nets’ first 11 points of the second half en route to 15 in the third quarter.
“We feel like some of our focus and attention to detail wasn’t there and they have to be there for us to win,” Dinwiddie said. “We’re not just going to outshoot people. We have to get stops and that way our pace is better and we get out into transition.”
The Nets went on a 19-5 run late in the third quarter capped by a 12-foot jumper by center Jarrett Allen to take an 88-58 lead, their largest of the season.
Their 27-point advantage after three quarters matched their largest through three quarters since moving to Barclays Center for the start of the 2012-13 season.
“We just executed, we were competitive, we were locked in, and that’s pretty much how you get the game going for your team,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “Everything just translates when your first unit comes ready to play.”
NOTES: Before Wizards G John Wall distributed four assists, he handed out an early Christmas present to all his teammates — a new Rolex watch. “He’s a good leader and he just continues to give,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “Not only on the court with our guys for easy layups or easy jump shots, but he gave them a nice watch.” ... F Otto Porter returned to the Wizards’ lineup after missing the last two games with a right thigh bruise. ... The Nets embark on a five-game, year-ending road trip that begins against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. The Wizards return home to face Orlando on Saturday.