3. Nets got offense rolling, look to continue momentum
After an offensive power outage in losses to the Orlando Magic and Milwaukee Bucks, including shooting season lows of 32.4 percent overall and 11.9 percent (5-for-42) from 3-point range in the 113-94 pummeling at the hands of the Bucks on Monday, the Brooklyn Nets bounced back in a big way on Wednesday.
Brooklyn shot a season-best 55.9 percent (19-for-34) from deep and hit 51.1 percent overall in their 135-130 victory over the Denver Nuggets. The 135 points were the third-most for the Nets in a game this season and their second-highest total in regulation time, topped only by the 144 points they hung on the Atlanta Hawks on Dec. 16.
Ball movement was the key for Brooklyn, which had a season-high 36 assists in the win over Denver.
Russell and Shabazz Napier each had 11 assists against the Nuggets, the first time the Nets have had two players with double-digit assists in the same game since Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston turned the trick against the Philadelphia 76ers on Dec. 20, 2013.
The 36 assists were the most the Nets have had in a game since logging 36 helpers in an April 7, 2018, win at Chicago.
Brooklyn’s play-making should get an added boost with the return of Caris LeVert, a wing scorer with point guard skills. He returns after a 42-game absence.
Even with Wednesday’s offensive fireworks, the Nets have been in an offensive funk since losing Spencer Dinwiddie to a thumb injury. Their 103.1 offensive rating over the last seven games is the third-worst in the NBA, ahead of only the Memphis Grizzlies and New York Knicks.
Over that span, the Nets are the worst-shooting team in the league at 41.2 percent and their 30.8 percent 3-point mark is second-worst.
The Nets got back to the basics against Denver — ball movement, player movement and good decisions on shot selection. They’ll need more of the same as they finally start to get healthier.