Brooklyn Nets defeat Trail Blazers in defining performance

Brooklyn Nets DeMarre Carroll. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets DeMarre Carroll. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Last night, the upstart Brooklyn Nets swarmed like killer bees. They showed their win-hungry fans a glimpse into what their true team identity could be. All it took is transcendent confidence and a purpose.

Coming off of a loss to the Denver Nuggets, the Brooklyn Nets were looking to spread their basketball feathers wide. So they did, pecking  Portland off 101-97.

The stats themselves show a pattern of success. The Nets had significantly more assists (25-17), fast break points (12-5), and steals (4-1) than the Trail Blazers.

One could see how the Nets run-and-gun style coupled with patience and good decision-making can win games. Many of Brooklyn’s close losses seem to come when it gets lost pushing the pace. That, and never knowing when to throw the change-up, often resulting in turnovers and bad shots.

A coach can tell who his team is by the way they respond to adversity. And Kenny Atkinson learned all he needed to know about his team last night. It takes a lot of silly avoidable losses to get a great win and this puppy was it. This was a more than a win because a much clearer picture of what the Brooklyn Nets can be, was revealed a bit more in some great team ball and confident individual performances.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has become a clear and obvious danger to opposing teams. D’Angelo Russell was an impressive leader and a great closer. The way the Nets can lock-down on defense was on display.

Brooklyn came into the game winless at Portland since 2013. Russell was not having any of it. The charismatic, yet inconsistent, Russell led the Nets and had a mini -redemption game ending the contest with 21 points, four rebounds and nine assists.

In some previous loses, he has had flashy offensive performances, but they were empty and without impact. Not this time. Russell was just more confident than everyone else on the court.  Damian Lillard came alive as expected in the  4th quarter scoring the large bulk of his 19 points as but it was not enough.

Both teams had low turnover percentages with 10 each, and that was definitely a key to Brooklyn’s victory, especially when considering they committed 19 turnovers in their previous defeat to the Nuggets.

Brooklyn had terrific performances from DeMarre Carroll and Joe Harris in this game as well. But the unsung hero might of been Hollis-Jefferson. He showed the best poise and maturity of his career, nailing some important low post buckets and playing stellar defense in the closing minutes of the game.

All in all, the Nets held each of the Blazers two stars, Lillard and C.J. McCollum, to under 20 points each. Brooklyn’s defense was admirable. Although Brooklyn’s three-point and free throw percentages were relatively dismal, the Nets’ defense won out in the end.