1. Brooklyn Nets not wilting when intensity ramps up
There were several points in the second half where the Brooklyn Nets — even this season — would have lost control of the game.
When coach Kenny Atkinson and Caris LeVert were hit with technical fouls within 35 seconds of each other midway through the third quarter, that was a spot where the Nets might have pressed, tried to do too much as individuals and watched the game get away from them.
When the Nuggets took their first lead of the game on Nikola Jokic’s putback tip-in with 3:34 to go in the third, coming all the way back from being 14 points down in the first half, that was a point at which Brooklyn might have folded the tents.
When they missed free throw after free throw with a chance to extend leads in the fourth quarter, it marked a point where the Nets might have started to lose trust in each other.
Instead, they stayed calm. They kept their composure. They kept running their stuff, getting good looks and not panicking if those looks didn’t happen to go down at times.
Although their streak of holding opponents to less than 100 points ended, it’s hard to say the Brooklyn Nets didn’t play well defensively — they did. And with Jokic focused on getting out of his offensive funk, the Nets did a solid job of limiting everyone else.
And when things got tight, Brooklyn stayed steady. This was a grind-it-out win for the Nets, something they haven’t always done well.
The maturity and the composure are the most welcome changes to see and are what carried them to a very tough road victory against an opponent that had been unbeaten at home.