Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets vs. Denver Nuggets Takeaways and Player Grades

Dec 7, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Isaiah Whitehead (15) drives around Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) during the fourth quarter at Barclays Center. Brooklyn Nets won 116-111. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets looked to put a stop to their skid at home against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.

The Brooklyn Nets got off to a fantastic start against the Denver Nuggets, taking an 11-0 lead in the first quarter, and eventually putting 15 points on the board before Denver scored.

In the first quarter, Brooklyn was firing on all cylinders on offense. Brooklyn outscored Denver in the paint 26-2 in the first quarter. Trevor Booker played extremely well in the first quarter, as he scored 10 points and pulled down six rebounds. Brook Lopez added nine points, as the Nets led 36-23 at the end of the first quarter.

Nets’ first-round pick Caris LeVert entered the game to make his NBA debut in the second quarter. LeVert had missed every game this season after he suffered a foot injury last season while at Michigan. In LeVert’s first stint of minutes on the floor, he pulled down three rebounds and had three steals in five minutes before being pulled.

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Brooklyn’s first quarter success carried over into the second quarter, as Isaiah Whitehead, Bojan Bogdanovic, Brook Lopez and Joe Harris all joined Booker in scoring in double-figures. Midway through the second quarter, the Nets held a 20-point lead, by a score of 50-30.

The Nets showed a willingness to pass the ball which led to great looks throughout the first half. Brooklyn had 12 assists in the first half, led by Lopez with four. By often making the extra pass, the Nets kept Denver’s defense off balance in the first half.

Interestingly, the Nets shot just nine three-pointers in the first half, their lowest total of the season. Of those nine, the Nets knocked down five.

At the halftime break, the Nets led 68-52.

Brooklyn, which has struggled during the third quarter this season, came out hot as the Nets went on a 9-0 run after halftime. Brook Lopez hit two straight three pointers to push Brooklyn’s lead to 77-52. Brooklyn continued to score in the third quarter, but perhaps more importantly, they placed an emphasis on defense. At the seven-minute mark, with the Nets up by 23 points, Kenny Atkinson called a timeout after being displeased with Brooklyn’s defensive effort. It was a small gesture, but the message was clear: Atkinson was not going to let this game slip away due to defensive woes.

Through three quarters, Brooklyn enjoyed their best offensive output of the season, scoring 96 points. The Nets held a 96-79 lead entering the fourth quarter.

However, the Nuggets climbed back into the game at the start of the fourth quarter. What was once as large as a 29-point lead was down to 12 when Denver cut the lead to 96-84 with 11 minutes to play.

The Nets spent the fourth quarter fending off Denver’s comeback attempt. Led by Sean Kilpatrick in the fourth, the Nets pushed the lead back to 10. However, Denver was able to come all the way back and cut the lead to two with 16 seconds remaining after Willson Chandler hit a three.

With 13.8 seconds remaining, Trevor Booker split a pair of free throws, giving the Nets a three point lead, 112-109. The Nuggets then made a critical mistake, as the inbounds pass by Jameer Nelson was thrown out of bounds. After being fouled, Bojan Bogdanovic hit a pair of free throws to seal the win for the Nets.

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