Nets gain traction for long road ahead
Hold off Pelicans at Barclays ahead of season-high five-game trip
With a season-high five-game road trip looming on their schedule, the Brooklyn Nets needed a feel-good win Monday night at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
They got just that in the form of a 135-125 victory over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans behind 39 points from Kyrie Irving and a double-digit scoring effort from all five of their starters in front of 17,194 fans on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.
“Obviously, we wanted to come out and win this game and really put a statement down for the rest of the week before we go on this long road trip so it was good,” noted Irving, who finished 13-of-21 from the field and 11-of-11 at the line while handing out nine assists.
Brooklyn, which played five of its first seven games at Barclays, will now prepare to head out on an eight-day odyssey through Portland, Phoenix, Utah, Denver and Chicago before returning to our fair borough on Nov. 18.
The Nets (3-4) will likely spend the next several days working on protecting the ball at their Sunset Park practice facility after committing 23 turnovers against the Pelicans, many of which occurred in the third quarter, when New Orleans put up 48 points and nearly stole the game from Brooklyn.
“We’re gonna look at it. We’re gonna talk about it,” said Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson, whose team leads the league with 19.3 giveaways per contest.
“My gut is it’s happening a lot in scramble situations. … I think we’re rushing into a lot of mistakes.”
Caris LeVert scored 23 points, Joe Harris added 19, including a game-sealing three-pointer with just under a minute to play, and Jarrett Allen added 18 points and 10 rebounds for Brooklyn, which will open its five-game journey Friday night against the Trail Blazers.
“We have three days until the next game,” noted Allen. “Coach already said we’re going to be working on a lot of things that we need to so really just slowing down. I know I had a couple of them so if you look, a lot of people had the same kind of mistakes.”
Taurean Prince finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds and Garrett Temple added 13 points off the bench for the Nets, who wiped away some of the bad taste left over from blowing a 14-point lead during their loss in Detroit Saturday night.
Irving, who ranks second in the NBA with 31.7 points per game thus far this season, established a franchise record with 222 points through his first seven contests with the Nets.
But the six-time All-Star and former NBA champion was much more interested in registering a win than piling up records.
“We had an intense focus. I know you could feel it out there,” Irving said. “I was really just trying to create great energy with the basketball throughout the game and get to the free-throw line and create easy opportunities for myself and my teammates.”
Brandon Ingram scored a career-high 40 points for the Pelicans, who dropped to 1-6 on the season and 0-4 on the road, but Atkinson’s team found a way to get critical stops in crunch time, something that had not come so easily during these first three weeks of this campaign.
“We just found a way. Crazy game,” Atkinson admitted. “A lot of back and forth. Ingram was phenomenal, of course. He hit some tough shots.
“We took a combination, a haymaker, however you want to call it, couple left hooks in the jaw in the third quarter, and I thought in the fourth quarter we did a better job and slowed them down a little.”
Nothing But Net: Center DeAndre Jordan suffered an apparent ankle sprain during the fourth quarter of Monday night’s win, but there was no word from Atkinson regarding the hulking pivotman’s availability for the upcoming road trip. Jordan had four points, five rebounds, two assists, a steal and two blocked shots in 16 minutes off the bench before stepping on J.J. Redick’s ankle on a trip up the court, forcing his immediate exit. … Brooklyn shot 53.3 percent from the floor Monday, including a 39 percent effort from long range. Harris and LeVert each hit four three-pointers to pace Brooklyn’s attack from beyond the arc. … After visiting Portland on Friday night, the Nets will be in Phoenix on Sunday, travel to Utah next Tuesday and make a stop in Denver next Thursday before wrapping up their trip on Saturday Nov. 16 in Chicago.
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