In what seemed like an insurmountable matchup, the Nets shocked the Oklahoma City Thunder on a chilly night in Brooklyn. The red-hot Nets’ offense shot more free-throws and collected more offensive rebounds en route to a 116-106 win. Brook Lopez led the Nets with 31 points and 10 rebounds.
The Nets snapped a five-game losing streak, including 13 of the last 14 games at home. In the process, they moved to 12-33 on the season. Brooklyn shot 47.9 percent from the field and hauled in 18 offensive rebounds. The work on the offensive glass accounted for 58 points in the paint and enabled Tony Brown’s team to grab a wire-to-wire victory.
“I thought Brook was outstanding,” Brown said. “He had a big presence in the paint. We posted him and he had a lot of shots at the rim, got to the foul line. That’s the kind of showing that I like to see from him going forward.”
Oklahoma City’s two star players finished with solid stat lines, but no other player hurt Brooklyn. Kevin Durant scored a game-high 32 points while Russell Westbrook added 27. The Thunder actually outscored the Nets in the paint, 60-58.
The Thunder offered nothing defensively, though. The Nets’ biggest weakness–their bench–accounted for 38 points, including 18 from Bojan Bogdanovic.
“We can take away stuff from every game,” forward Thaddeus Young said. “We do have a lot of positives that come out of each and every game. We might lose some, but at the end of the day, we continue to go back to the game, go back to the film, and go back to the practice court and go over things we’re not good at and trying to get better at. It showed in tonight’s game.”
The Nets have played well against some of the league’s best, which causes consternation among fans when the team falls behind Utah by 31 points and loses three straight to the Orlando Magic.
With Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, the Nets should be able to consistently compete in games. From the team as a whole, the effort has often gone missing for long stretches, only to reappear when facing an elite opponent. The Nets had a similar effort Monday night against the Toronto Raptors, only to lose an offensive slugfest.
“Our focus, absolutely (was better),” Lopez said. “Our focus right when we hit the court for walkthrough–we were just a different team. … We absolutely had a different attitude going into this one.”
The Nets can play efficiently, especially on offense. Their two best players require the ball in and around the hoop, making for high-quality looks. The shots become high quality because the front court is tough to move out of the paint based on their strength. Since the Nets limited their turnovers–11 compared to OKC’s 14–they gave themselves a great chance to win. More resistance in the paint should lead to more results like the one Sunday evening.