Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said prior to the game his team needed to show more resolve in the face of adversity.
It appears Nets players failed to hear their coach’s message.
After overcoming an 18-point second-half deficit, the Nets (3-5) faltered under pressure in the fourth quarter, falling to the Suns (3-4), 122-114, at Barclays Center Tuesday night to lose their third straight game.
“We’re having these phases where we aren’t resilient enough,” Atkinson said prior to the game.
Trailing 83-65 midway through the third quarter, with star point guard D’Angelo Russell sitting on the bench, this game had all the makings of a typical Nets blowout loss. Instead, backup guard Spencer Dinwiddie sparked a 23-4 run to close out the quarter and send the Barclays Center into a frenzy.
The Nets’ lead, however, was short-lived, as Brooklyn would go nearly three minutes without a field goal in the fourth quarter, allowing the Suns to work their way to a 118-110 lead with 1:29 left to ice the game.
Devin Booker led the Suns with 30 points on 11-of-22 shooting. Booker has been forced to take on an even larger role of the Suns’ offense in Eric Bledsoe’s absence, as the Suns continue to sit Bledsoe while fielding trade offers for the disgruntled point guard.
Mike James continued his admirable job filling in for the banished Bledsoe, finishing with 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting and five assists.
Russell got off to a hot start for the Nets, scoring 20 of his game-high 33 points in the first half. The 22-year-old point guard looked especially comfortable working alongside Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, delivering a number of crisp and impressive passes to the 6’7″ forward. The two combined for 31 points on 12-of-18 shooting (66.7%) in the first half.
Outside of the Nets’ young duo, the team shot just 8-of-31 (25.8%) against one of the worst defense’s in the league through two quarters, allowing the Suns to grab a 59-53 lead at the break.
The Suns entered Tuesday giving up an average of 117.2 points a game, the second-worst mark in the NBA (behind only the Nets, with 118.3).
Hollis-Jefferson finished with 21 points and seven rebounds.
Dinwiddie led the team’s second unit once again, scoring 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 from behind the arc. The 24-year-old guard has scored 15 or more points in four games this season.
DeMarre Carroll, who was questionable to play due to a sore knee, looked sluggish for the Nets, shooting just 4-of-11 to finish with 13 points and grabbing just five rebounds.
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