The Brooklyn Nets extended their winning streak to 6 with a 115-110 win over the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday, showing a newfound ability to hold on late.
The Brooklyn Nets showed some grit down the stretch Tuesday night, holding off the Los Angeles Lakers for a 115-110 win at Barclays Center after the Lakers cut a 13-point deficit to just two in the fourth quarter.
During their recent eight-game losing streak, an inability to hold onto leads late doomed the Nets (14-18) in several of those losses and Brooklyn holds the dubious distinction of having eight losses this season in games in which they led by at least 10 points.
But during their six-game winning streak that has come on the heels of that losing string, the Nets have been figuring out some things in those late-game situations.
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They beat the Toronto Raptors, owners of the NBA’s best record, in overtime to begin the streak. Brooklyn held off a fourth-quarter run to beat the New York Knicks on the road.
In a road win over the Philadelphia 76ers, things got very dicey in the closing moments, but the Nets held on.
Then something interesting happened.
Against the Washington Wizards on Friday, the Nets didn’t just hold off a charge by the Wizards, they answered with a run of their own. Against the Lakers on Tuesday, they did the same.
Los Angeles cut a 13-point deficit to three with a 10-0 burst and Brooklyn responded with four straight points. When the lead shrank to two, the Nets popped in two more consecutive buckets.
The one big knock on the Nets last season and early this year was an inability to put opponents away.
There was hardly a lead that Brooklyn held that could be considered safe — a 23-point lead against the Oklahoma City Thunder, a 20-point lead over the 76ers, a seven-point edge over the Memphis Grizzlies with 33 seconds to play all turned to losses.
But over the last few games, the Nets are playing with more mental toughness when teams make their late charges. That feeling of dread — here we go again — is being replaced with a steely resolve and clutch playmaking.
The young team that plays hard and falls short is morphing into the young team that has found its killer instinct.
The Nets only went nine deep on Tuesday, with a full complement of five players inactive and Treveon Graham on the active list but not dressed as he recovers from his strained left hamstring.
Caris LeVert (dislocated right foot) remained inactive, as did Allen Crabbe, who missed a third straight game with a sore right knee. The injured contingent was joined Tuesday by rookie Dzanan Musa, out with a left shoulder subluxation.
Here are the grades from Tuesday’s win: