Nets vie for first win streak in nearly a year, host Suns

NEW YORK — Brook Lopez, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Sean Kilpatrick are the only members of the Brooklyn Nets to experience consecutive wins with the team.

Thirteen times the Nets have been unable to put together two straight victories this season, but after Lopez was mobbed by his teammates for hitting a buzzer-beater Tuesday against the Detroit Pistons, Brooklyn gets another chance for a winning streak.

The next opportunity occurs Thursday night when the Nets host the Phoenix Suns.

The last-time the Nets won consecutive games was March 24-26, 2016, when they beat the Cleveland Cavaliers by nine points and the Indiana Pacers by 10. Lopez scored 23 points in 38 minutes, Kilpatrick added 14 points and Hollis-Jefferson played 16 minutes.

Brooklyn (14-56) is 5-7 since March 1 when it snapped a 16-game losing streak at Sacramento.

In the last 12 contests, the Nets are averaging 107.3 points per game, shooting 45.3 percent and making 38.1 percent from 3-point range.

Lopez scored 29 in Tuesday’s 98-96 win, marking the sixth straight game he reached 20 points. This month, he is averaging 22.4 points on 49.5 percent shooting and making 40.7 percent of his 3-pointers.

“We’re just going to keep building it and part of that is the spirit of the guys and, led by Brook, it’s just, in the situation we’re in, his enthusiasm, whether it’s a timeout, whether it’s a shootaround and I know that’s his job, but this isn’t the easiest situation,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. “So I’m happy for him, that he hit the game-winning shot, because I just think his spirit, what he brings to the team every day, it’s been huge for us.”

Lopez’s game-winner capped a night that saw four players contribute who were not on the active roster on opening night. Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwddie, K.J. McDaniels and Archie Goodwin combined for 46 points on 16-of-35 shooting.

Dinwiddie started at point guard for Jeremy Lin (sprained right ankle) and will do so again if the latter does not play Thursday. Lin missed his 45th game of the season, though Atkinson said he does not anticipate a lengthy absence.

“The constant theme and motif for the remainder of the season is to keep playing through and not quit and have no slippage,” Lopez said. “We want to build a foundation and get things right so we’re confident going into next season.”

So far, the Nets have not been able to prevent slippage when seeking consecutive wins. In their previous 13 attempts, Brooklyn has allowed 112 points and lost seven times by single digits.

Phoenix (22-49) is one setback shy of consecutive 50-loss seasons for the second time in team history. The other instance occurred in the 1973-74 and 1974-75 campaigns under coach John McLeod.

The Suns are on a five-game losing streak and are 1-7 since beating the Boston Celtics on March 5. Phoenix is also 2-9 in its last 11 road games since posting consecutive wins in New York and Toronto on Jan. 21-22.

The latest loss occurred Tuesday in Miami when the Suns coach Earl Watson used an eight-man rotation most of the night since Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe and Tyson Chandler were shut down for the rest of the season.

“Every game we have different pieces,” Phoenix center Alex Len said. “We’re just trying to play the right way.”

Devin Booker returned from sitting out Sunday’s loss in Detroit with a sore right ankle but was held to 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting while recording a minus-29 in 34 minutes. Booker is averaging 20.8 points this season but is shooting 23.6 percent (13-of-55) in his last three games.

The Suns also matched a season high with their fifth straight loss by committing 24 turnovers and allowing 36 points during the second quarter.

“Can’t give up 36 points in a quarter if you’re trying to win,” Booker said. “They were scoring off our turnovers. They had a lot of points in transition and we just couldn’t slow them down.”

Booker committed seven turnovers while rookie Marquese Chriss committed six giveaways. Chriss is averaging 17.5 points and 7.3 rebounds in his last four games after scoring 24 points Tuesday.

The Nets are looking to sweep the season series from the Suns for the fourth time in five seasons and win for the ninth time in the last 11 meetings. Hollis-Jefferson scored 20 points in Brooklyn’s 122-104 win at Phoenix Nov. 12 and the Nets held Booker to 5-of-18 shooting.

Leave a Reply