Caris LeVert’s post-halftime takeover carried the Brooklyn Nets back into the game Friday night against Memphis, and almost all the way to a win in a 115-110 loss to the Grizzlies.
In the third quarter alone, LeVert shot 6-for-8, made all five of his 3-point attempts, and put up 19 points as the Nets moved into the lead after being down 22 in the first half.
“I was due for one honestly,” said LeVert. “I’ve been shooting bad all season so I feel like I was due for this game. I've been putting in a lot of work, you know my shot feels good. I think it was just a matter of time to be honest with you.”
In the fourth quarter, Brooklyn was back down seven when LeVert returned with 7:23 remaining and keyed an 8-0 run, assisting on a DeAndre Jordan dunk, converting a three-point play, then feeding Landry Shamet for a go-ahead 3-pointer. With the Nets down 113-107, LeVert hit his final 3-pointer of the game to get the Nets back within a possession with 11.4 seconds to go.
He finished up with 43 points in the second-highest scoring game of his career, shooting 15-for-23 overall and 7-for-9 from 3-point range, making all six of his free throws, and adding six assists and five rebounds.
“I think Caris is usually really aggressive; I think he was just 7-of-9 from three tonight, so it makes it all look totally different,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash. “He was great. He was huge. He was a big part of us getting back into the game obviously, but I’ve never really had a problem with his aggressiveness. Tonight it just paints a picture of when the ball goes in the basket it looks a lot different. But he’s been playing well. He had a couple good games, few good games in a row now, and he’s getting better all the time, so really proud of the way he’s playing.”
Friday night was LeVert’s third start of the season, and in those games he’s averaging 31.0 points, 9.0 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 steals with the Nets an average of plus 12.7 with him on the court, while shooting 46.8 percent overall and 39.1 percent from 3-point range.
Two of those starts have come in Brooklyn’s last two games with both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant out. In Thursday’s win over Philadelphia, LeVert scored 14 of Brooklyn’s last 18 points in the third quarter — assisting on the other two baskets — to break the game open for good. He finished with 22 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds against the Sixers.
Coming off the bench in Tuesday’s win over Utah, LeVert had 24 points and five assists. Over Brooklyn’s last three games he’s averaging 29.7 points, 7.0 assists, and 4.3 rebounds, shooting 50.0 percent overall and 47.4 percent from 3-point range.
“Yeah, I think so,” said LeVert of getting in a rhythm with a higher volume of touches. “But I think for me just working off the ball is definitely something I've worked on a lot this offseason, playing off of players, playing off of the ball, playing that two-man spot, that three-man spot,” said LeVert. “I think that's where I've really improved. And I think that as the season progresses I'll be able to show that.”
Veteran forward Jeff Green is in his first season playing with LeVert.
“As a fan of basketball I've seen from afar what CL has been doing,” said Green. “I'm a big fan of his and his approach to the game. A young kid who’s making a name for himself. I don't think he really has to really, I guess you could say, fit in. He is who he is and I think he's going to bring a lot to the table. And I think Ky and Kev know that. It's only gonna help them along the way but it's also gonna help CL. I believe he's already made a name for himself in this league. Sky's the limit still for him his growth is still gonna get bigger. He's gonna keep working, he's a kid who’s in the gym every day working on his craft and he's going to continue to get better.”