Brooklyn Nets: Another career night for ever-evolving Caris LeVert

Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Caris LeVert of the Brooklyn Nets set another new career-high, scoring 29 points in Friday’s 119-111 loss to the Houston Rockets at Barclays Center.

The painted area has become Caris LeVert‘s kitchen and the Houston Rockets on Friday night were just the latest team to learn that if you let LeVert get cooking in there, the young guard for the Brooklyn Nets will burn you.

LeVert, for the second time in just nine games this season, set a new career-high, scoring 29 points against the Rockets, but his effort came in a losing cause as Brooklyn dropped its fourth game in its last five outings, 119-111.

The third-year man from Michigan was 10-for-17 from the floor, hit 4-of-6 from 3-point range and made 5-of-7 at the free throw line, while adding four rebounds, two assists and three steals.

LeVert matched a career-high with 27 points on opening night against the Detroit Pistons and set a new mark with 28 points two nights later in the home-opening win over the New York Knicks.

He is stronger this season, which is allowing him to take much more contact and still finish in the paint. The result has been an average of 4.4 attempts from the line per game this season, a dramatic increase over the 2.2 career mark he carried into the season.

And when he gets his shots, he’s knocking them down. In his first two seasons with the Nets, LeVert shot .440/.336/.714 while averaging 10.4 points in 24.2 minutes per game.

A full-time starter for the first time in his career this season, LeVert is shooting .489/.333/.800 after Friday’s contest, while also averaging 4.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.2 steals.

Oh, and his scoring average now stands at an even 20 points a night.

His 3-point touch is still a work in progress. While he was 4-for-6 against the Rockets, LeVert had been just 1-for-11 in his last two games.

He was one of the NBA’s breakout stars in the early going, scoring 74 points in his first three games before defenses began to adjust.

LeVert scored just 10 points in an Oct. 24 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, but came back to score 44 points in losses to the New Orleans Pelicans and Golden State Warriors last weekend.

In Monday’s loss to the Knicks, the bottom fell out. LeVert was held to a season-low four points on 2-of-11 shooting. He rebounded with 19 in the overtime win over Detroit on Wednesday.

LeVert couldn’t have been any hotter in the first quarter Friday, as he shredded the Rockets’ porous defense early in the game with 12 points in the period on 5-for-5 shooting.

He missed his only two attempts in the second quarter and was 2-for-5 in the third before heating up again in the fourth as the Nets made a vain effort to reclaim a game they had complete control of until the final three minutes of the first half.

LeVert scored 10 of his 29 points in the final period, going 3-for-5 and draining back-to-back 3s to keep Brooklyn in the game. Along with Joe Harris, LeVert was just about the only offense the Nets had in the fourth, though.

The pair combined for 19 of Brooklyn’s 25 points on 7-for-9 shooting. The rest of the squad had six points and was 2-for-14 from the floor and 0-for-7 from 3-point range.

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Caris LeVert has made huge strides this season. It was just a shame to see Friday night’s effort wasted in a game in which the Nets showed their inexperience in not finishing an opponent that was ready to be put to sleep early.