The Brooklyn Nets won consecutive games for the first time this season and did so in style, dismantling the Phoenix Suns 126-98 on Thursday night at Barclays Center.
The 28-point win was the largest of the season for the Nets and gave Brooklyn its first winning streak of the 2016-17 campaign. The win also improves the Nets to 4-3 in their last seven and 6-9 since the all-star break.
Brook Lopez had a team-high 19 points, but the Nets bench was driving the bus on Thursday with a season-high 81 points. KJ McDaniels (16), Trevor Booker (14), Quincy Acy (12) and Isaiah Whitehead (11) all hit double-digits, as the Nets bench dominated the Suns’ reserves 81-22. Even Archie Goodwin (12) and Justin Hamilton (10) hit double-digits in a short seven minutes of work at the end of the game.
“Our bench was just so big tonight,” Lopez said. “They came in and played superb and got us back in the game. They were the difference maker tonight.”
Judging by the final score, it’d be hard to believe that the Nets were down 32-22 after the first quarter. Brooklyn shot 9-of-25 (36%) from the field and an uncharacteristic 2-of-10 (20%) from deep, while turning the ball over five times.
“I thought we were completely out of it to start the game,” Atkinson said. “Then we took a timeout and a wake-up call, a stern wake-up call, pens were flying, clipboards were flying and sometimes you have to do that.”
Fiery speeches and a frantic effort by the bench changed the game for the Nets. The Nets’ second unit jumped out to a 10-0 run to start the second quarter, including eight points in 21 seconds, to tie the score. That burst served the springboard Brooklyn needed to get over the haywire first.
“It was great to help the starters out,” said Whitehead, who turned an Alvin Williams turnover into a three-point play for the Nets during that run. “For the bench to come out, that’s our job, to come in and really give energy and just try to turn the game around.”
The Nets found both their offensive and defensive game, outscoring the Suns 62-33 over the next two quarters. Brooklyn took a 52-50 lead into the half and took an 84-65 lead into the fourth. By the time the lead stretched to 31 points, the first quarter felt too distant to even be a memory.
“We turned it up about two or three notches,” Atkinson said.
What stood out about the Nets’ gaudy offensive numbers was how they built it. The Nets scored 56 points in the paint, calling an audible on their three-point shooting after the first quarter. They owned the glass too, outrebounding the Suns 61-48, with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson setting a new career-high with 16 rebounds – in only 15 minutes.
Devin Booker had the hot hand for the Suns on Thursday, scoring a game-high 28 points, including 20 in the first half. Marquese Chriss scored 21 for the Suns, while Alex Len and Leandro Barbosa each had 11.
“We played together, we responded to Phoenix tonight,” Lopez said. “It was a good learning experience. We have to come back, regroup quick and do it again tomorrow.”
The Nets look to take their newfound momentum into Washington as they face off against Wizards on Friday night. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.