Carroll ignites comeback, LeVert closes in Nets win over Heat
The Nets found themselves in a familiar position against the Heat Friday night in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn trailed by 16 points midway through the third quarter, once again being forced to mount a comeback. The Nets are no strangers to building comebacks to make games interesting. The difference Friday night was the Nets made the comeback and closed out the comeback for a win.
Brooklyn fought back to secure a 101-95 win over a red-hot Miami squad. The win snaps a three-game losing streak. Miami had been the hottest team in the NBA coming into the contest, winning eight of their last nine since being blown out by Brooklyn on Dec. 29.
DeMarre Carroll ignited the Brooklyn comeback. Carroll scored a career-high 26 points on 9-12 shooting from the field. Spencer Dinwiddie followed with 15 points.
Miami jumped out to a 10-point halftime lead. The Heat came out in the third quarter and extended the lead to 16. With the game appearing to get away from the Nets, they flipped the script.
Kenny Atkinson opted to go small with Quincy Acy at the five and Carroll at the four. With the small lineup on the floor, the Nets locked in defensively. Miami would not score in the final 5:50 of the third quarter as Brooklyn went on a 14-0 run to cut the lead to two.
Caris LeVert credited D'Angelo Russell for the Nets' increased energy on the defensive end. “D’Angelo was real vocal in that third quarter when he came in, that’s where the run started. He was just telling us 'stop by stop, let's get a stop',” said LeVert.
Russell scored just one point on 0-5 shooting in 14 minutes of action. However, he dished out five assists and controlled the pace in the second half.
Brooklyn and Miami exchanged blows late into the fourth quarter. The Nets got the ball trailing by three with 5:37 remaining. Carroll proceeded to take over.
Carroll scored eight straight points to put the Nets ahead by three with 4:17 remaining.
The nine-year NBA veteran is averaging 17 PPG in the Nets' last five games. “I see when we’re lacking on the offensive end, so I just try to come out and be aggressive. Usually I’m a defensive guy, but tonight I saw a place where I could help my team and I tried to,” said Carroll.
Miami fought back to tie the game at 91 apiece with two minutes to play. However, a breakdown defensively left Dinwiddie with a wide open lane for a dunk to put Brooklyn ahead.
Joe Harris' tough defense forced a Wayne Ellington airball on the Heat's next possession. The Nets went to Dinwiddie's backcourt counterpart in LeVert as they tried to close out the game.
LeVert got a switch onto Hassan Whiteside. The second-year Net crossed to his right, absorbed the contact from Whiteside and finished at the rim to put the Nets up four.
Ellington proceeded to miss on a lob at the rim on the Heat's inbounds play, giving the ball back to the Nets. Brooklyn went with the hot hand in LeVert. He drove right off a switch, pulled up at the foul line and hit nothing but net to ice the game for Brooklyn.
LeVert looked very comfortable with the ball in his hands at the end of the game. The 23-year-old was aggressive, but under control, as he finished the Heat off. That composure is an extremely promising sign for the young guard.
This was a much-needed win for Brooklyn. The Nets will head into a five-game road trip on a high note.
Brooklyn will have an off day before traveling to Detroit Sunday. The Nets will have an opportunity to redeem themselves of an embarrassing 34-point blowout loss to the Pistons on Jan. 10.