When the Brooklyn Nets were struggling to put the ball in the basket in the first half Sunday night, Caris LeVert saved them.
LeVert scored 18 points in the first half — the most in a single half in his career — as the Nets fought through their struggles to take a 51-47 halftime lead.
As the rest of the team heated up after halftime, LeVert moved the ball, played terrific defense — he had four steals on the night — and let the rest of the squad do the heavy lifting offensively.
LeVert scored only two points in the second half on 1-of-6 shooting, but the other players had heated up so well at that point it didn’t matter.
But LeVert did what a go-to guy does in that first half — shouldered the load until everyone else could carry their share.
Forget the hyper-efficient offensive game. Forget the double-digit rebounds.
Jarrett Allen earned this grade on the defensive end. He stared into the face of a young All-Star center in Joel Embiid who came into the game with 80 points in his last two games and 110 in his last three — and held Embiid to eight field-goal attempts and 64 touches.
This is also where the coaching staff gets some kudos. The scheme was executed well by the players. Philadelphia committed 28 turnovers and many of them were careless, but many of them were out of frustration as well, as they tried to force the ball into spots the Nets were denying.
Embiid scored 16 points, but he had to work for them as Allen did a terrific job of keeping Embiid off his favorite spots and the perimeter defenders worked the entry lanes.
But that started with Allen and his work in the low post.