The Brooklyn Nets suffered a tough loss at Washington on Wednesday despite succeeding in not letting Bradley Beal hit a game-winning shot.
The Nets continue their four-game road trip Friday, when they visit the Atlanta Hawks. And this time, the Nets don’t want to let second-year guard Trae Young take that potential game-winning shot.
Beal scored 30 points in the Nets’ 110-106 loss, and they double-teamed the Wizards’ star to keep him from getting a shot off on a late possession. However, the Nets did not finish the defensive sequence when Spencer Dinwiddie was late to defend Jerome Robinson, who sank the game-winning 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds left.
The shot sent the Nets to a second straight close loss after having won eight of 12 games. Brooklyn blew a 19-point lead at home in a 115-113 loss to Orlando on Monday.
Two nights later, the Nets stormed back from 18 points down and took a three-point lead into the fourth quarter before seeing their lead over eighth-place Orlando shrink to one half-game.
“We were in a junk defense, box-and-one type of defense, and there was a screen at the top. They overloaded the back side,” Brooklyn’s Caris LeVert said. “If we’d have talked better we probably would’ve matched up better.”
LeVert scored 34 points and is averaging 23.8 points in his past nine games, but he also acknowledged the Nets lacked focus in the past two games.
“That’s our job,” LeVert said. “We’ve got to come in locked in from the start, no matter who we’re playing, for a full 48 minutes. I feel like for stretches of the game we’ll have it, but not for a full 48 minutes.”
Brooklyn enters on an eight-game winning streak against the Hawks. During the Nets’ longest winning streak in team history against an opponent, the average margin of victory is 13 points and the only one-possession game in the streak was a 114-112 win in Atlanta on March 9, 2019.
When the Nets rolled to a 108-86 rout of the Hawks on Jan. 12, Atlanta was in a stretch of 15 losses in 17 games. Since the last meeting, Atlanta is 9-11, with seven of those wins coming at home.
Young did not play in the last meeting because of a left hamstring injury but scored 39 points on Dec. 4 in a 130-118 loss to Brooklyn. He then scored 47 in a 122-112 defeat on Dec. 21.
Young scored 37 points Wednesday when the Hawks were handed a 130-120 home loss by Orlando. He played through flu-like symptoms, but along with the rest of his teammates, endured a third quarter in which the Hawks allowed 39 points.
“The third quarter was brutal,” Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce said. “The first timeout is called, and we just kind of fell apart the rest of that third quarter. It’s really our defensive end. We just couldn’t get stops.”
Being unable to get stops is hardly a new development for the Hawks. While Atlanta has watched Young produce 29 games with at least 30 points, it also has allowed at least 130 points 14 times.
“There’s a lot that needs to be changed,” Young said. “We’ve just got to bring it more. We need to fight harder. It’s stuff that we can control. Defensive end, we’ve got to fight harder.”
–Field Level Media