The Brooklyn Nets gave themselves and their fans the best possible Christmas gift Sunday night, a 111-103 victory at Barclays Center over the Phoenix Suns.
The win completes a season sweep of the Suns for the Nets (16-19), who head into their two-day Christmas break in ninth place in the Eastern Conference after some standings-shifting games on Sunday evening.
The Miami Heat (16-16) jumped from eighth to seventh with a 115-91 road win over the Orlando Magic (14-18), who dropped into 10th place with the loss. The Charlotte Hornets (16-16) retained a hold on sixth place despite losing on the road to the Boston Celtics 119-103.
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The Hornets remained ahead of Miami based on their 2-0 head-to-head advantage over the Heat. The Detroit Pistons (15-16), meanwhile, fell to eighth place after being stunned at home by the Atlanta Hawks 98-95. The Pistons have lost nine of their last 11 to fall below .500 for the first time this season.
With the win Sunday, Brooklyn also assured itself of its first winning record for a full calendar month since they were 9-7 in March 2015. The Nets were 4-3 in April 2017, but the season ended April 12. Brooklyn is 8-4 this month after winning for the eighth time in its last nine games.
The Nets have three games left in December — Wednesday’s home game against the Hornets, the return of the home-and-home at Charlotte on Friday and the final game of the calendar year on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday,
The Suns (8-26) came in off a triple-overtime road loss to the Washington Wizards and fell behind by as much as 20 points with 6:09 remaining before making a late run to make it close.
Brooklyn came out sizzling in the first quarter with some help from Phoenix, who surrendered 10 free throws with nine fouls in the first 12 minutes of the game. The Nets led 38-31 after the first and went to intermission with a 63-56 lead.
The Nets came out cold to start the third period, missing their first six shots as Phoenix closed to within two points. Brooklyn responded with a 13-0 run to take control of the game and went up by 20 midway through the fourth quarter on a pair of D’Angelo Russell free throws.
Phoenix cranked up the defensive pressure, getting steals on back-to-back possessions to spark a 7-0 run. Devin Booker‘s floater in the lane with 1:57 to go cut the Nets’ lead to 10 at 109-99, before Brooklyn iced the game with a huge possession.
Dinwiddie missed a floater, but Ed Davis grabbed the offensive rebound. Dinwiddie closed the possession with another floater, knocking it down to end a possession that ate up 35 seconds and left the Nets with a 12-point lead.
Brooklyn shot 47.1 percent (40-for-85) for the game and hit 10-of-27 (37 percent) from 3-point range. The Nets outrebounded the Suns 49-41, but surrendered 23 points on 17 turnovers.
Phoenix hit 48.3 percent overall (43-for-89), but were just 3-for-17 (17.6 percent) from long range.
The Nets were 21-for-33 at the foul line, influenced by Davis hitting just 1-of-7 — including five misses in six attempts late in the fourth quarter when Phoenix engaged in a bit of a “Damage Davis” strategy with off-the-ball fouls.
Dinwiddie finished with 24 points and seven assists, while Russell came back from scoring a season-low three points in Friday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers with 18 points and eight assists.
Joe Harris scored 13 points, setting a new franchise record for the Nets with his sixth consecutive game with at least three makes from 3-point range. Harris is 18-for-34 (52.9 percent) from deep over that stretch and is at 54.2 percent in 10 games this month. Jarrett Allen went for 11 points for Brooklyn.
No. 1 overall draft pick Deandre Ayton matched his career-highs with 26 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks for Phoenix. Booker added 25 points and nine assists. Mikal Bridges picked off five steals and Josh Jackson scored 11 points off the bench.
The NBA will go dark with no games scheduled Monday for Christmas Eve before coming back Tuesday for its now-traditional five-game made-for-TV slate.
Brooklyn returns Wednesday against the Hornets at Barclays Center for a 7:30 p.m. Eastern tip.
Here are three takeaways from the win over the Suns.