The Brooklyn Nets led by 24 points in the first half and 21 in the fourth quarter before settling for a 126-121 win Wednesday over the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Brooklyn Nets opened the 2019 portion of their schedule in style, blowing out to a huge early lead and weathering a late run by the New Orleans Pelicans for a 126-121 win Wednesday at Barclays Center.
The Nets (18-21) shot 60 percent in the first half and hit 10-of-18 from 3-point range in the opening 24 minutes, leading by as much as 24 points before taking a 73-58 lead to the dressing room.
Brooklyn opened its largest lead in the fourth quarter at 112-91 on a 3-pointer from Shabazz Napier before the Pelicans (17-22) put together a 15-1 run to cut the deficit to seven with 5:04 remaining.
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New Orleans made it interesting down the stretch — because, hey, every team makes a run — but never got closer than five the rest of the way as the Nets led for the final 40:38 of the game.
Brooklyn wound up hitting 50.5 percent (47-for-93) on the night and matched a season-high with 16-for-31 shooting (51.6 percent) from deep as seven of the nine players who saw action scored in double figures, led by D’Angelo Russell‘s 22 points and career-high-matching 13 assists.
The Nets’ bench made the biggest difference, outscoring their Pelican counterparts by a whopping 55-5 margin, as New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry essentially went just six deep, with only Darius Miller logging double-figure minutes off the bench.
Brooklyn committed only 10 turnovers, their lowest total since they had nine in a Dec. 14 win at home over the Washington Wizards, while their 3-point shooting matched their work in a Dec. 21 loss to the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center.
The Nets will now head out on the road for three games in four days, beginning Friday against the Memphis Grizzlies before a back-to-back against the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics on Sunday and Monday.
The Nets remained a half-game behind the eighth-place Detroit Pistons (17-19), who won at Memphis Wednesday night. Brooklyn is percentage points ahead of the Orlando Magic (17-20) to hold ninth in the Eastern Conference, a game behind the seventh-place Charlotte Hornets (18-19) and 1½ back of the sixth-place Miami Heat (18-18).
The Nets will hit the season’s official midpoint in Sunday’s game in Chicago and while they can’t reach .500 for the first half, 20-21 is still in play.
Here are the player grades from Wednesday’s win over the Pelicans to kick off 2019.