While the Brooklyn Nets were unable to advance in the NBA’s in-season tournament, they earned something more important for the road ahead: another victory Tuesday.
The Nets pushed themselves over the .500 mark for the third time with their second three-game winning streak of the season. Brooklyn’s attempt at a fourth straight victory comes Thursday night when it plays host to the Charlotte Hornets.
When the Nets reeled off their first three-game winning streak, Oct. 30-Nov. 3, they earned a 133-121 victory at Charlotte, followed by single-digit wins on the road against the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls. Those two teams were Brooklyn’s victims in the first two games of the current streak.
The Nets sank 38 shots from 3-point range in the past two games and made enough plays down the stretch of Tuesday’s 115-103 win over the visiting Toronto Raptors.
“We knew we needed to have a sense of urgency. We needed to worry about a certain amount of points,” Brooklyn center Nic Claxton said about recognizing the in-season tournament’s tie-breaking point differential.
“At the end of the day, we won the game and that’s what matters. It was a good team win so I’m happy we got the win.”
The Nets were eliminated by the point-differential tiebreaker, but the sense of scoring urgency helped them to dominate the Raptors.
After hitting 25 shots from 3-point range Sunday, the Nets made 34.2 percent (13 of 38) from behind the arc Tuesday, marking their fourth-lowest percentage, but fifth win in 10 games when shooting under 40 percent on 3-pointers.
Brooklyn shot 44.9 percent overall from the field, marking the fifth time it shot under 45 percent, while improving to 3-2 in those contests, thanks to a strong showing in the fourth quarter.
Royce O’Neal scored 12 of Brooklyn’s 39 points in the fourth by making four 3-pointers, while the Nets shot 57.1 percent.
Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets with 23 points and scored at least 20 in consecutive games for the first time this season. Mikal Bridges added 22, including a tiebreaking three-point play with 4:15 remaining that started Brooklyn’s game-ending 21-9 run.
Charlotte heads to Brooklyn coming off consecutive double-digit losses at Orlando and New York after getting consecutive three-point home wins over Washington and Boston last week.
Eight of Charlotte’s losses are by double digits and Charlotte trailed by 13 after the first quarter in its 115-91 loss to the Knicks on Tuesday.
“Our effort was really good tonight. Our purpose of play was not,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “That’s what we have to learn from.”
Rookie Brandon Miller scored 18 points but the rest of Charlotte’s starters combined for 40 points. The Hornets scored their fewest points in a game this season and shot 41.6 percent, marking their third-lowest total this season.
Charlotte’s difficult night scoring occurred in a game when it made 13 shots from 3-point range, the sixth time it has made that many in a game this season.
“There were times we got stagnant,” Charlotte forward Mark Williams said. “There were times we just missed open ones and there were times with stuff we just didn’t convert on. Execution wasn’t there as it should have been.”
The Nets have won the past five meetings, including three straight by at least 12 points. In their 133-121 win at Charlotte, the Nets shot 56.3 percent from the field and held the Hornets to 8 of 31 (25.8 percent) from 3-point range.
–Field Level Media