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Grizzlies 116, Nets 111: Caris LeVert Posts Double-Double In Brooklyn Loss

On the second night of a road/home back-to-back, playing down three starters, the Brooklyn. Nets went the distance against the Memphis Grizzlies, and a little extra.

After coming back from an early double-digit deficit and trading leads down the stretch to get to overtime, the Nets were off the mark in the extra period in a 116-111 loss.

“It was a tough game,” said Caris LeVert. “We were fighting. You know we played last night so I felt like we had some heavy legs. They played hard. They made a lot of tough floaters down the stretch. We just couldn’t get the stops necessary down the stretch. Couldn’t make the shots necessary, but I felt like we fought hard all night. We’ll watch the film and get better from it.”

It was LeVert’s 3-pointer that gave the Nets the lead late in regulation, 106-104, before Memphis tied the game on a pair of Jonas Valanciunas free throws. It took Brooklyn three minutes to get on the board in overtime, but again it was LeVert with a steal and a layup, and then a 3-pointer that put the Nets up 111-110 with 1:15 to go. But the Nets wouldn’t score again as the Grizzlies focused on LeVert down the stretch.

“Memphis, they did a good job,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash. “They tried to take Caris, take the ball out of Caris’ hands. I thought the last play we had Caris there. Would have liked to try to get it into him, but we didn’t. I think, more than anything, we had a really tired group at the end of that game, on a back-to-back, early in the season. Our legs were going. We fought hard. I’m really proud of the guys for giving themselves a change to win here, and a bounce here or there, we get a victory, undermanned. Lot of good takeaways, but a lot to clean up as well.”

LeVert finished with a double-double, putting up 28 points and 11 assists, plus five steals. LeVert stepped to the front on a night in which the Nets chose to rest Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, both returning from injury, and in their first game after learning that Spencer Dinwiddie would be out after suffering a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament on Sunday night in Charlotte.

It all added up to a reshuffled rotation, and strong contributions from some who had been out of the rotation over the first few games. After coming off the bench in the fourth quarter to make 3-of-3 3-pointers against Charlotte on Sunday night, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot got the start and scored 21 points with six rebounds.

“Tim played really well tonight,” said LeVert. “Being confident, knocking down shots. That’s not easy to do. Especially what he did last night, sitting the whole game and then coming in and knocking down three huge threes. I think it was three threes he made in that game, and then tonight, same thing. As soon as he checked in the game, he shoots his next shot as if the last shot didn’t happen. All you can ask of a shooter is a short memory, and just let it fly. I think he’s done a great job of just getting better since he’s been with us and he’s expanded his game a little bit as well.”

Playing without Irving and Dinwiddie meant the return of point guard Chris Chiozza, who made a late impression last season after being signed to a two-way contract. Chiozza came off the bench behind LeVert, and then played with him into the overtime, finishing with 14 points in 26 minutes.

“TLC’s been playing well. He’s had a good camp,” said Nash. “He came in late ast night and played well down the stretch. He’s made shots. He’s very reliable defensively. And Cheese gave us another ball-handler tonight. Without Spencer and Ky, heavy load on Caris handling the ball. They were trying to take him away and deny it fullcourt, so Cheese really helped, not only to handle the ball, but he made some plays and scored for us. Those guys both did great.”

Joe Harris had 14 points as well, while Jarrett Allen put up his third-straight double-figure rebounding game with 15 boards. The Nets and Grizzlies traded the lead 22 times, including seven times in the final five minutes of regulation and another three times in overtime, and were tied 10 times.

All that came after the Nets fell behind by double-digits early, and trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half before closing strong for a 55-54 lead at the break. Brooklyn outscored the Grizzlies 25-12 going into halftime on a run that began with a pair of Luwawu-Cabarrot 3-pointers, and another from Harris. Luwawu-Cabarrot had 10 points in a 15-4 run that brought the Nets within a point at 46-45.

LeVert finally got Brooklyn even at 51, popping in a short jumper in the lane, then fed a cutting Luwawu-Cabarrot for a layup and a 53-51 lead. After Dillon Brooks hit a three for Memphis, LeVert beat the buzzer on another jumper in the lane to give the Nets a one-point halftime lead. The Nets, who finished with 28 assists, had 18 on their 20 first-half field goals.

“Obviously we're so early in the season but again you definitely don't want to drop games especially like this regardless of being short-handed whatever it is,” said Harris. “We're still trying play the right way, we're still trying to take steps in the right direction. And overall, compete level was pretty high. We didn't shoot particularly well. We haven't particularly shot well the last couple of games, but I thought we competed better than we did against Charlotte. And it's just one of those things we even talked about it this morning, regardless of who you're playing against every team that steps on the court, they all have capable guys. Capable guys that can have big nights and it doesn't matter what's on the front of the jersey, what's on the back, everybody is solid players across the board and you have to respect that.”