brooklyn nets
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets rally late to complete comeback over the Dallas Mavericks

Well, it wasn’t pretty, but that’s been the theme all season for this Brooklyn Nets team. After trailing by as many as 17 points in the second half, Brooklyn would turn up the pressure on defense and hold the Mavericks to 13 fourth-quarter points thus propelling them to a 102-99 comeback win.

For most of the night, the Nets seemed to be in a malaise on both ends of the floor. The offense appeared to be stuck in the mud and just could not find a rhythm. Even though the Nets were shooting over 50% from the field at halftime, they still trailed by 12.

A lack of three-point shooting and turnovers were the culprits. Luka Doncic, the catalyst for Dallas all night, scored 18 of his 28 points in the first half but was contained to just two field goals in the second, both coming in the fourth quarter.

After Dallas took a 17-point lead midway through the third quarter, Brooklyn would find some life. Youngsters Cam Thomas and Nic Claxton would provide a spark off the bench that kept Brooklyn within arm’s reach.

The fourth quarter is when Brooklyn finally woke up. They began the frame on a 10-2 run and slowly but surely clawed back into the game thanks to their defense. This was also aided by Dallas missing a plethora of shots down the stretch.

Brooklyn would take their first lead of the night at the 6:41 mark on a pair of James Harden free throws at 91-90. After falling behind shortly after, the Nets would regain the lead on a Patty Mills three-ball with just under three minutes left and hang on for the nail-biting win.

Nets Big Two

Kevin Durant (24 points, seven rebounds) led the way for Brooklyn. For the first three quarters, it was a bit of a struggle for the league’s leading scorer. He had one of his lowest-scoring first-halves of the season only totaling seven points through the first two quarters.

However, when the Nets needed him most, he answered the call. Durant scored 11 of his 17 second-half points in the fourth quarter. He dropped a quick five points, acting as a springboard for Brooklyn’s 10-2 run to begin the final period. He’d also carry the Nets across the finish line with a dagger fadeaway in the final minutes.

Although it was another impressive stats night for James Harden (23 points, nine rebounds, 12 assists) the consistency and effort aspects were still in question in this game. It’s clear Harden is still trying to figure out when to be aggressive and when to facilitate.

Whether it’s turning down an open catch-and-shoot three-point attempt or not taking advantage of a clear mismatch, Harden’s apprehensiveness is something that hinders the Nets at times. Still, The Beard was able to find a rhythm in the third quarter offensively and was an important factor for the Nets down the stretch.

Claxton comes up big

One of the biggest bright spots for the Nets in the win was the play of Nic Claxton, who saw his first bit of extended minutes since returning from illness. In 21 minutes off the bench, Claxton pulled down nine rebounds and added six points.

His biggest contributions however came on the defensive side of the ball. Claxton’s ability to switch onto Luka at points in the second half was huge for Brooklyn. In fact, the two engaged in a mini verbal exchange in the third quarter which led to a technical foul for Doncic. On Dallas’ last possession Claxton and Bruce Brown did an outstanding job of preventing Luka and Kristaps Porzingis from getting off clean looks from three.

This past baseball season Michael Kay coined the phrase “It don’t come easy” to describe the Yankees and their wins. And so far, it appears the Nets have taken on that moniker. The Nets continue to play this game where they drag their feet for two or three quarters before finally “getting serious.”

It’s easy to grow complacent when you have a superstar the likes of Kevin Durant to bail you out of situations but the KD well, although deep, isn’t bottomless.

With the win, the Nets improve to 9-2 in road games. They also improve to 8-0 when holding opponents under 100 points.

The Nets will be right back at it Wednesday night as they take on a rebuilding Rockets team who have won their last six games. It’s the perfect opportunity to try and steal some rest for Brooklyn’s stars with an easy win. However, easy wins have been hard to come by for this group.