The Brooklyn Nets have moved up the Eastern Conference to the sixth seed as quietly as they descended to the bottom of it over the past few years.
They’re above .500 for the first time since they were 6 and 6 in early November. Before Brooklyn’s game against the Orlando Magic last night (Thursday), their 48th, they had won 6 straight at home—10-wins and 1 loss in their last 11 games.
Brooklyn’s 8-game losing streak, 9 of 10, also in November, seems to be far behind them now. Since their 7-game win streak began in December, starting with the Toronto Raptors, a leader of the Eastern Conference, Brooklyn has lost no more than 2 games consecutively. And to their credit, Brooklyn defeated the Boston Celtics and the Houston Rockets last week, two of the league’s higher-ranked teams, back-to-back, a home game and an away game.
Against Houston, which went to overtime, the Nets were resilient enough to out duel James Harden’s 58-points.
“The man had 60 and we won,” said Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie about Harden’s performance. “That’s big time for a young group.”
It is. Dinwiddie didn’t drop 58 or 60, but his 33 points, 10 assists and 25 points in the fourth quarter, his double-double off the bench playing 32 total minutes, were impressive. His three, his third in 30 seconds, forced the game into overtime.
“He was unbelievable,” said Brooklyn’s head coach Kenny Atkinson about Dinwiddie. “The threes were great, but I also love how he was driving the ball to the rim.”
Brooklyn had seven players in double figures against Houston. Jarrett Allen, their second year center, also had a double-double—20 points and 24 rebounds.
Also contributing to this winning Brooklyn Nets team has been D’Angelo Russell. Despite his mere 10 points, 7 assists and 3 rebounds in 28 minutes against the Rockets, Russell has led the Nets in scoring in 8 of their last 10 games, most notably his 40 against the Orlando Magic Friday and his 31 against the Sacramento Kings Monday. Russell has average a little over 28 points in those 8 games.
Impressed with Russell’s play, especially his pullup threes Monday afternoon, Atkinson noted with a slight grin, “Those pullup threes are something. Those are [James] Harden-esque.”
Harden-esque? Maybe, but it’s important for Brooklyn to continue to thrive as they approach the All-Star break. They host the New York Knicks tomorrow night (Friday), travel to Boston to play Monday night and then return home to Barclays Wednesday to face the Chicago Bulls.