1. Winning with defense
For the second straight game, the Brooklyn Nets held an opponent to less than 100 points, the first time they’ve turned the trick since a three-game streak from Jan. 1-6.
It’s the third game overall Brooklyn has held an opponent to double-digits. The Nets allowed just 86 points in their win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road on Oct. 24.
Meanwhile, the 82 points scored by the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday is the fewest scored against Brooklyn since the Atlanta Hawks were held to 82 points on April 2, 2017.
The Nets held Phoenix to just 42 points in the first half and 40 in the second, while the Suns were shot 34.6 percent overall (28-for-81) and were 9-for-25 (36 percent) from 3-point range.
Brooklyn also won the turnover game — big. The Nets got 21 points off 20 Phoenix turnovers, while Brooklyn’s 10 turnovers led to nine points for the Suns.
Phoenix had only 30 points in the paint and shot less than 50 percent in the process, going 15-for-34.
Caris LeVert, in particular, played a whale of a defensive game, hounding Devin Booker much of the night and holding the Suns’ star to a 6-for-21 night from the floor.
Booker also had four turnovers and had a lot of trouble getting clean looks against LeVert, primarily, but also against Spencer Dinwiddie and Allen Crabbe.
The plan against rookie big man Deandre Ayton was simple enough. Give him the mid-range jumper and see if he takes the bait. Ayton did, often, and wasn’t particularly good from out there, going 6-for-17 overall.
There was one brief sequence in the third quarter were the Suns committed to posting up Ayton against the smaller Jarrett Allen, which led to back-to-back scores, but as quickly as Phoenix went to it, the Suns abandoned the plan for the rest of the night.
Brooklyn was moving, fighting over screens and generally making life miserable for the young Suns, who lack a true starting caliber point guard, instead starting career backup Isaiah Canaan most of the season.
It’s the right plan against a young team without a true playmaker and the Nets executed that plan to near perfection.