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  • Benjamin Gerstel

Phoenix holds off Brooklyn 121-110

Devin Booker had one of his usual nights, missing only one shot in the first quarter. He went 6-7, for a team high 14 points. James Harden put Brooklyn on his shoulders, attacking the basket with ease in the first quarter. Brooklyn’s defense was a major issue early and they failed to contain Devin Booker at all. Chris Paul had 7 assists in the first quarter, moving the ball around, and finding open guys like Cam Johnson and Miles Bridges as well. Even though he missed his first few shots, Cam Johnson was completely wide open for all of his shots, which is further evidence of the defensive troubles Brooklyn had. After missing his first few shots, Cam Johnson had 10 points on top of Booker’s 14 in the first quarter.

For Brooklyn offensively, they were led by their backcourt. Harden and Kyrie had 18 points by halftime, including a few showstopping moves. One of them, Kyrie had, where he spun through Phoenix’s defense, finding Patty Mills wide open for the three point shot. Another major highlight was Nicholas Claxton’s forceful finish after a lob from James Harden. Patty Mills, Claxton, and Kessler Edwards (2-2 from three), all played really well for the Nets. However, their defense didn’t keep them in the game until about the 5’ mark in the second quarter. Devin Booker, like usual, was subbed out for a majority of the second quarter, which helped Brooklyn cut the lead to 4 points in this span. Brooklyn eventually brought it within three, but failed to capitalize on their biggest opportunities. After a tough finish by Kyrie brought the game within reach, Kessler Edwards missed a tough layup. Deandre Bembry got the offensive rebound, but Kyrie uncharacteristically missed a wide open three to tie it. Devin Booker hit two quick midrange shots to make it a seven point game, and Chris Paul cut through the lane at the buzzer with little resistance from Brooklyn, to put Phoenix up 65-58.

Brooklyn was able to get their first lead of the game, but a 7-0 run by Phoenix turned the tide on them. Chris Paul knocked down a huge three from the top of the key over Kessler Edwards, giving Phoenix a six point lead. A huge four point swing for Phoenix followed, after two straight goaltendings were called. JaVale McGee “blocked” a floater from Harden which seemed to be on its way down. Then, Brooklyn was called for one on the other end, for a four point swing. Booker knocked down a three, and then Cam Johnson hit a massive shot from downtown, to make it a 12 point game. With less than two minutes left, James Harden shot a laser from the top of the arc for his third three of the night. Blake Griffin also knocked down a three after a pump fake evaporated his defender.

To begin the fourth, the Nets got into some foul trouble. After 60 seconds of play, the Nets picked up four fouls in one possession. James Johnson picked up his fifth, and Bembry got two in a row before McGee got an and-one. Kyrie did everything he could, hitting fadeaways and tough finishes to keep the Nets within striking distance. Kyrie pulled off another wizardly dribbling move, shaking and baking into the lane, in order to find a wide open Blake Griffin. Blake Griffin had a solid night, but Kyrie was phenomenal. On the following bucket, he swished a three to bring it to a one possession game. James Johnson’s unselfishness was also a huge factor in Brooklyn’s comeback. After a JaVale Mcgee and-one, Chris Paul found Bridges on another three-point opportunity. The Nets were fouling a ton tonight, which was a huge detriment to Kyrie’s heroic effort.

Devin Booker began to heat up again, with a smooth three-pointer. His 35 led the game, adding another impressive performance to his resume. CP3 followed it up with an alley-oop to Ayton, giving them a 9-0 run, and a 14-point lead, which was their largest of the game. They held Brooklyn to one field goal in the last five minutes, from the 2:30 mark. Phoenix’s ability to close out in the clutch was on point like usual tonight. Brooklyn emptied their bench under 2 minutes to go, and Devin Booker closed out the game, toying with the Brooklyn Nets.

The biggest talking point after this game will certainly be the officiating. They were called for 4 fouls in one possession, and had 8 more personal fouls than Phoenix did. Some calls were straight up bad by the refs but others were just either lazy or frustration fouls on Brooklyn’s part. It’s a frustrating way to lose the game for the Nets, but they didn’t do all they could either. Their defense was exposed tonight, and their team looked much more vulnerable (albeit with Durant out), compared to the well-oiled machine that is the Phoenix Suns. Brooklyn was outshot 15-6 from the line in the second half, which was a major issue for them. Brooklyn also left Cam Johnson shockingly open more than a few times, and they couldn’t do anything to contain Devin Booker (game high 35 points), Chris Paul (20 points and 14 assists), and even Mikal Bridges, who had an impressive 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. Phoenix won the game 121-111, and have won 11 straight games, while Brooklyn has lost their last five. The Nets play the Kings on Wednesday and Phoenix has a matchup at Atlanta Thursday.

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