D’Angelo Russell and Allen Crabbe set new milestones, yet it wasn’t enough to end the Nets woes against the Raptors.
Brooklyn’s inexperience showed in another close loss to Toronto, extending the team’s winless streak against the Canadian side to 12 games. The defeat overshadows some impressive accomplishments from the Nets on Friday. Russell had his first-ever triple-double (18 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds) and Crabbe set the Nets new single-season record for made three-pointers.
Ultimately, the Nets’ recent issues with the fourth quarter negated a strong performance from the team against the Eastern Conference leaders. After leading by as many as 14 points, the Nets struggled to score in the final 12 minutes – shooting just 35 percent. They will also regret several turnovers and missed free throws in the fourth, which definitely influenced the outcome. The Raptors were led by Kyle Lowry, who also had a triple-double with 25 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
Here are Three Observations from the Game:
Free Throws Cost Nets
The Nets’ aggressiveness was a big reason why they were able to go toe-to-toe with the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference. If there’s one thing they’ll regret, it’s their inability to convert free throws, especially down the stretch.
Brooklyn missed 12 of their 31 free throws at the Air Canada Centre. If the team had hit close to their season average of 77.6 percent, good for 13th in the NBA, there’s a very good chance it could have snuck out of Toronto with a big upset.
Career Night For DLo
Friday was the exclamation point to a superb two weeks for Russell.
Russell finished the game with his first-ever career triple-double, the Nets’ first triple-double in eight years – last done by Terrance Williams in 2010. What was most impressive about the 22-year-old’s performance is his work on the boards as he had a career-high 11 rebounds. When looking at Russell’s numbers over the past five games, most will look at his uptick in scoring, but it’s his work on the glass that’s been quietly impressive. The guard is averaging 6.2 boards per game during that span.
Russell was also effective in creating opportunities for his teammates, finishing with 13 assists. While he’ll likely rue his shot selection, going 8-for-21, overall, the versatility shown is another step forward for the Nets’ point guard.
Crabbe Joins Nets History
There were plenty of expectations for Crabbe when he arrived in a trade with the Trail Blazers, but few would have predicted that he would set a Nets record in his first campaign with the team.
Midway through the second quarter against Toronto, Crabbe hit his 170th three of the season – setting the new single-season record for Brooklyn. The previous mark was set by Deron Williams five seasons ago.
While Crabbe had some issues with inconsistency this season, setting the Nets’ new record for season threes in just 67 games is impressive. Some might point to it being a product of the modern NBA and the style that Brooklyn plays -- the team is second in the league in three-point attempts -- and those are fair assessments. But to the 25-year-old’s credit, he’s never shied away from the record, nor has he puffed his chest out in a self-congratulatory fashion about it. Instead, he’s gone about it in a humble and professional manner. That deserves respect.
Crabbe finished the game with 18 points on 6-for-10 shooting