Nets 76ers Basketball
(AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The Brooklyn Nets were on the wrong side of history, allowing an abysmal 51 third-quarter points against the Philadelphia 76ers en route to a 22-point loss.

Matt Brooks

  • Philadelphia 76ers 145 (1-1)
  • Brooklyn Nets 123 (1-1)
  • NBA, Final, Box Score
  • Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA

In 1962, the Los Angeles Lakers scored 51 fourth-quarter points against the Detroit Pistons in the Western Division Finals. (Today, we would call this the Western Conference Finals.)

Those 51 points set the NBA record for most points a quarter; a record that stood unopposed for 55 years.

Unfortunately — both for the sake of the Laker’s historical record and for fans of basketball in Brooklyn — that all changed tonight.

The Philadelphia 76ers evened up the series against Brooklyn and did so in historical fashion by hanging 51 record-tying third-quarter points on Brooklyn’s defense. Things got so bad that Kenny Atkinson waved the white flag early in the fourth, pulling his starters with ten full minutes to play in the game.

At one point, however, it did look like Brooklyn stood a chance.

Brooklyn came out the gates firing on all cylinders. D’Angelo Russell was especially impressive early on, scoring 16 first-half points. Russell hit three of his six total first-half threes and seemed much calmer this time around.

Spencer Dinwiddie got just about every shot he wanted, streaking past every Philly defender that came in his path. Philly has no one who can guard Din off the drive. Expect big performances like tonight’s 19 point showing (on 50 percent shooting) to continue.

Jarrett Allen, after looking woefully overmatched in Game 1, showed more poise during the second game in Philadelphia. Allen finished with nine points and six rebounds. Allen looked slightly more adjusted to guarding Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, holding his ground with more as the Philly center banged with him in the post.

For a brief second, Rodions Kurucs was an excellent source of energy — most notably rebounding his missed three-pointer and hammering down a huge dunk. However, like many games before, Kurucs’ aggressiveness got the best of him and the rookie ran into some foul trouble. (Ku finished with five fouls).

But look, enough of the positive ho-hum nonsense. Let’s cut the BS and get straight to the point.

Ben Simmons followed up his ugly nine-point Game 1 performance in the best way possible.

He was the best player on the floor.

Philly did right by their point guard of the future and ensured that he got himself going early on. Normally, Simmons is an excellent transition player. However, he can be minimized on that end if a defense sags off him to take away his driving lanes. Which, by the way, is exactly how Brooklyn took Simmons out of Game 1.

Credit to Brett Brown: he made the perfect adjustments to Brooklyn’s strategy on defense. When Simmons had the ball in his hands, Philly’s supporting players set tough screens on Brooklyn’s sagging defenders to give Simmons open drives to the rim.

Brown’s ploy worked. Simmons scored 18 points. The strategy worked in other ways, too.

First off, it helped Simmons dial in as a facilitator. Feeling the wind his sails from early buckets, Simmons began spraying passes to open teammates. This helped JJ Redick and Tobias Harris break their early slumps.

More importantly, being a factor on offense helped Simmons bring his A++ game on defense. When he’s fully locked in, Philly’s 6-foot-10 point guard is one of the most menacing on-ball defenders at the guard position.

Unfortunately for D’Angelo Russell, he absorbed the bulk of Simmons’ defensive hysteria. Simmons completely removed Brooklyn’s All-Star from the game during the second half. Clearly taking the matchup personally, he picked up Russell from near mid-court and completely enveloped him with his massive frame. Russell missed every single shot he took in the second half and finished with four turnovers to two assists.

Although the final score is discouraging, in a way Monday’s game was a bit relieving. Brooklyn was able to see Philly at their best. And for 24 minutes of the game, the Nets were able to stay neck-and-neck with the Eastern Conference giant. That has to mean something, right?

The exciting series will resume on Thursday as both teams head to Brooklyn to play Game 3. Coverage starts at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.

An NBA fanatic who specializes in the advanced analytics of the game. I cover the Brooklyn Nets here in the city. Follow me on Twitter for semi-witty basketball tweets. @MattBrooksNBA