Nets claim third straight win and settle deal against Rockets 118-96
Don’t look now, but the Brooklyn Nets are on a three-game winning streak.
Brooklyn defeated the Houston Rockets 118-96 on Tuesday for the redesigned Nets’ third straight win. The Nets are now sitting 37-28 in the season and are 2.5 games well ahead of the Miami Heat for sixth place in the Eastern Conference and just one game behind the Knicks for fifth with 17 games remaining. Brooklyn’s three-game winning streak is the longest streak in their conference (the Philadelphia 76ers have won three games in a row).
Mikal Bridges achieved 30 points for his third consecutive result, with 13 of those points coming in the fourth quarter.
“He’s the ultimate competitor,” head coach Jacque Vaughn said of Bridges after the game. “I love this article about him. He plays every night. I love this article about him. This ability to contribute as a teammate. He is very unselfish. He gives up time he knows in the dressing room during games so it was really a pleasure to be with him and get to know him as an individual.”
Nic Claxton came up with his 22nd double-double of the season with 18 points to go and 13 rebounds on a nice 8-of-9 shooting line.
“He works on it every day. I mean we trust him to play,” Royce O’Neale said of Claxton. “I just think he’s confident and making the right reads whether he scores or passes.”
Brooklyn’s bench unit was also enormously productive. Royce O’Neale (3-of-6 from the field), Joe Harris (4-of-7 from three), newcomer Nerlens Noel (1-of-1 at field goals) and Seth Curry (4-of-6 from the field) combined for 37 points. Houston reserves, meanwhile, only accumulated 21 points.
“Really, this second quarter has been a big difference for us,” said Vaughn. “That group — (Cam Johnson), Seth was out there, Joe was out there — they really changed the momentum, our direction, especially at half-time. Her ability to get stops and get out in transition and create pace was tremendous. But a big part of that was the guys playing out there. So the depth definitely paid off tonight.”
Houston was led by youngsters Jalen Green with 25 points and Alperen Sengun, who had 16 points and 12 rebounds on 50% shooting from the field.
As a team, the Nets overtook Houston in shooting from the field (49.4% to 43.4%), 3-point shooting (37.5% to 26.9%), and free throw shooting (79.3% to 70.8%). After all, folks, there’s a reason Houston is the second-worst team in the league by winning percentage.
“We made an adjustment to shrink the floor more and put more body in front of the basketball. So that was tremendous for our defense at the end of the floor, and then we can get out there and run a little bit,” Vaughn said of Brooklyn’s adjustments that shut down Houston’s offense.
Still, the Rockets got off to a hot start with a 12-2 run. Sengun notably mechanically broke Claxton for 10 points in the first quarter on 4-of-5 shooting. Spencer Dinwiddie was heavily involved in the Nets’ offense and dictated most of Brooklyn’s possessions, resulting in a game-high 13 point. Houston ended the first quarter 32-27 ahead.
Brooklyn’s bank checked in and went to work immediately. Harris, O’Neale, Noel and Curry started the game with a combined 8-of-9 from the field, and the Nets as a team started the second quarter on an 18-2 run. Houston began breaking Brooklyn’s 11-point lead, eventually leveling at the 40-second mark after Jabari Smith Jr. tipped a rebound. Dinwiddie hit a layup through the arms of four Rockets and Bridges hit a three-pointer with the buzzer sounding after a pump fake, giving the Nets a 59-54 lead at halftime.
Brooklyn started the third quarter on a 14-3 run, while Dinwiddie continued his rhythmic scoring with two pretty finishes in the paint, one being an and-1 and a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer that he 23 points scored a full one and a half quarters. The Nets were able to extend this lead to a whopping 20 points by the five-minute mark in the third. Harris continued his ridiculous shooting from deep with two made threes. Brooklyn finished the quarter 92-78 ahead.
Brooklyn maintained its 20-point lead for most of the fourth quarter. In fact, the only real highlight of the quarter was Bridges hitting 30 points for the fifth time in eight games and scoring 13 points in the quarter. Brooklyn crossed the finish line to win against the Victor Wembanyama hopeful Houston Rockets.
- The 118-96 win over Houston marked the first time this season Brooklyn had won three straight games by double digits, something they failed to do even in their 12-game streak in December and January.
- Royce O’Neale hit his third double-double of the season with 13 points and a season-high 11 rebounds.
- Mikal Bridges extended his career-best streak of 30+ points to three games. Bridges has lost at least 30 points in five of their last eight games played.
- Nic Claxton recorded his 22nd double-double of the season. In his previous three seasons, he totaled just 5 double-doubles.
- Joe Harris shoots up 55% (27 of 49) since close after Tuesday’s 4-of-7 performance from the deep. Harris has once again moved up to third all-time in 3-point percentage behind only Steve Kerr and Hubie Davis. He is also the leading active player, just ahead of Seth Curry.
- Bridges set an NBA record by averaging 25.5 points with splits of 52.6/48.1/92.2 in his first 10 games with the Nets. No NBA player had ever scored 25 points on 50/40/90 splits in their first 10 games with a new team.
Brooklyn heads to Milwaukee on Thursday for the first half of a back-to-back Midwest duel. Brooklyn then plays Minnesota on the road the very next night. Coverage of Thursday’s game against the Bucks begins at 8 p.m. EST on the YES Network.
For a different perspective on today’s game, visit The Dream Shake, our Rockets sister site.