For most of the past week, the Brooklyn Nets endured numerous frustrating events leading to defeats. They seemed headed for another rough outing Tuesday night in Boston until Caris LeVert took over and ended Brooklyn’s four-game skid.
After LeVert produced a career-high 51 points, he and the Nets will encounter a short turnaround Wednesday night when they host the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Nets (27-33) enter Wednesday in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, one-half game ahead of the Orlando Magic in the race to avoid facing the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the postseason.
On Tuesday, LeVert willed the Nets to a 129-120 overtime win against the Celtics. He scored 37 of his points after the third quarter when the Nets outscored Boston 62-36 on the same day Kyrie Irving underwent surgery on his right shoulder.
“The basket was so big at that point. I got some easy layups going to the rim,” LeVert said. “I’m just trying to get a good look.”
LeVert’s big game led Brooklyn to its second win since the All-Star break. The other was a 115-86 rout at Charlotte on Feb. 22. In between those victories, the Nets endured four frustrating losses against teams in the Southeast Division.
Brooklyn coughed up a 19-point lead at home on Feb. 24 to Orlando, then lost on a last-second shot in Washington two nights later. After allowing 141 points in a 23-point loss against lowly Atlanta on Friday, the Nets committed a last-second turnover in a three-point loss at Miami the next day.
LeVert’s big night continued his hot streak and he enters Wednesday averaging 24.9 points over his last 12 games since returning to the starting lineup on Feb. 3 against Phoenix.
Memphis (30-31) is eighth in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies, who are aiming for a third straight win, began the season with a 13-22 record but are 17-9 since Jan. 4.
Memphis moved two games over .500 by beating the Portland Trail Blazers on Feb. 12 but then dropped its next five games. The Grizzlies have rebounded from that skid by posting a 17-point home win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday and a 127-88 road victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday.
The Grizzlies are coming off one their best all-around games of the season, as the 39-point margin of victory was the largest in a road game in franchise history. Memphis placed a franchise-record nine players in double figures with five reserves getting at least 10 points on a night when the team recorded 72 bench points to tie the franchise mark.
Perhaps more impressive for Memphis is the lopsided victory occurred after the team missed its first 11 field-goal attempts.
“We’ve got to come out from the jump, even if we aren’t making shots,” said Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins, whose club held Atlanta to 32.3 percent shooting and limited star Trae Young to 19 points. “They got out of the slump there. And then we just kind of found a groove.”
Another benefit to the Monday blowout was that no Memphis player logged more than 26 minutes. Rookie Ja Morant scored 13 points in 24 minutes while Jonas Valanciunas totaled 15 points and 15 rebounds in 25 minutes.
The Grizzlies and Nets are accustomed to wild endings in recent meetings. Memphis claimed a 131-125 double overtime victory Nov. 30, 2018, in Brooklyn when Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 36 points. The Grizzlies also posted a 134-133 overtime home win on Oct. 27 when Morant scored 30 points and Jae Crowder hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
–Field Level Media