Brooklyn Nets: Defense carries the day in streak-breaking victory

The Brooklyn Nets on Friday night stunned the Toronto Raptors 106-105 in overtime behind their defense, which stymied an offense that has been elite.

Often when a team pulls off an upset victory, it is spurred by an abnormally good night by the offense, a night when shot after shot splashes through the net. The Brooklyn Nets, however, beat the Toronto Raptors Friday night at Barclays Center on the back of their defense.

How good was Brooklyn’s D Friday night?

The Raptors came in the second-best shooting team in the NBA at 49 percent. They were third in offensive efficiency, scoring 113.7 points per 100 possession and fourth in overall scoring at 116.4 points per game.

The Nets, ranked 16th in overall defense, 22nd in defensive efficiency and 19th in opponents’ shooting, rose to the challenge.

Toronto shot 39.3 percent (35-for-89) on Friday night, their second-worst performance of the season. The Raptors scored 100.9 points per 100 possessions — almost 13 fewer than their average coming in.

Their total of 105 points was 11.4 less than their season average and that came in five extra minutes, as the game went to overtime.

It was the fourth time this season Brooklyn has held an opponent to less than 40 percent shooting and the first since the Nets’ last victory over the Miami Heat on Nov. 20.

Their 60 rebounds were a season-high, topping the 55 they had in wins over the New York Knicks on Oct. 19 and the Detroit Pistons on Halloween.

And it came on a night when the Nets shot below their season averages overall (43.9 percent, 43-for-98) and 3-point range (31.4 percent, 11-for-35). They entered the game shooting 44.1 percent overall and 34.8 percent from deep.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson did a terrific job against Kawhi Leonard, who scored 32 points, but was just 10-for-21 overall.

Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis did yeoman’s work on the boards. Allen had 10 rebounds, with Davis snatching 15 in just 21 minutes. The tandem also combined to hold Jonas Valanciunas to seven points after halftime. The big Lithuanian center had 17 in the first half.

Even the much-maligned defense of D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie made an impact. All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry dished out 11 assists, but he also turned the ball over five times and shot just 1-for-8 on the game, scoring just three points. He came in averaging 14.6 per game.

Brooklyn cleaned the defensive glass and limited offensive rebounds — something the team has been among the worst in the NBA at doing.

The Nets’ defensive rebounding rate of 74.2 percent ranked 28th in the NBA entering the game and opponents had averaged 11.1 offensive rebounds per game, 25th in the league.

The Nets grabbed 44 boards off the defensive window against Toronto, while the Raptors had just six offensive rebounds. That matched the second-lowest total Brooklyn has surrendered this season.

However, in their three previous games surrendering six offensive boards or less, the Nets lost all three games and allowed their opponent to shoot better than 50 percent.

The Washington Wizards had just two offensive rebounds while shooting 51.9 percent in their win last Saturday. The Golden State Warriors had six ORBs on 55.4 percent shooting on Nov. 10 and the Miami Heat also had six offensive boards while shooting 54.1 percent on Nov. 14.

That is an entirely different thing than allowing six offensive rebounds when your opponent shoots less than 40 percent. The Raptors missed 54 shots Friday and rebounded six of those misses.

But where Brooklyn may have stood out the most was in its commitment to transition defense.

Toronto came into Friday’s game averaging 18.6 fast-break points per game, the third-most in the NBA. Despite committing 20 turnovers, the Nets surrendered just five points on the break to the Raptors.

The Nets ended their eight-game losing streak, their eight-game home losing skid and a 12-game losing spell against the Raptors because their defense came up big.