MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Coach Kenny Atkinson was still frustrated by the Nets' collapse in the last game, and still unhappy with his lack of fitness.
For the Nets plagued with injuries, Sunday was going to be a referendum. Shorthanded and on the road against the Grizzlies, they would discover what kind of team they were.
They will like the answer they got. The Nets put up a solid third quarter and defeated the defense with a 99-88 victory against 14,889 at the FedEx Forum. It was his best defensive participation of the season, and he came up with a list plagued with injuries.
"I'm frustrated, but optimistic, because I think we're going in the right direction, I think we're improving." Atkinson said before the game. "But that's two games in a row [we lost late]Cleveland, LeBron, I understand it a bit, but Portland, I feel like we let that one get away, they're staying with you, so we'll see what we're up against against a tough team in Memphis." .
What the Nets (7-12) discovered is that they can find ways to win even when they are injured. And they can do a better job of resisting injuries than Memphis in freefall.
With starters Jeremy Lin and D & # 39; Angelo Russell out for knee injuries, starting forward Allen Crabbe was a last-minute scratch with back pain and starter forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson left with a twisted ankle. The Nets were decimated, but finally they came out victorious.
But even with 80 percent of their lineup, the Nets erased an eight-point deficit in the first half and built a 19-point cushion in the second half. They saw that he cut to five in 82-77 with 8:03 remaining in the game, but Trevor Booker (16 points, 11 rebounds) responded with two free throws and Joe Harris hit a 3-pointer to stop the bleeding and stretch the lead to 10.
The Nets lost three games in a row, and four of five since Russell got hurt. But they won a rare triumph on the road, where they dropped seven of nine, while the Grizzlies (7-11) have now dropped eight in a row, the last six without injured point guard Mike Conley.
"There is another level of physicality, another level of commitment that we have to reach to stop us," Atkinson said. "People are talking about closing the game, who's your closer, forget that: how do you stop the teams, how do you rate the ball, what did we do [in the past] and how do you shoot good shots? working on it, we are showing them, I hope that starts to be translated ".
It began to be translated on Sunday night.
Tyler Zeller started against Marc Gasol and received the help of Timofey Mozgov, the great Russian who returns to the field after not playing for four consecutive games. .
Hollis-Jefferson fell hard after contact in a tray attempt. Without a call for next appearance, Chandler Parsons went down to the other side and drilled a triple for a 35-29 Memphis lead with 8:17 to play in the second quarter. Hollis-Jefferson held on to his ankle while his worried teammates gathered around him. Hollis-Jefferson walked cautiously across the floor and did not return.
But the Nets united without him.
They knotted it to 37 on a 12-5 impulse, and the score was still tied at 47-all in half on Booker's cutting tray. And the Nets came out of the break as hot as they entered, opening the second half with a 15-2 run.
Zeller and DeMarre Carroll (team's maximum of 24 points, six rebounds) opened the third with backup back 3 points to push the lead to six. Triple Spencer Dinwiddie extended the race to 15-2 for a 62-49 lead in the Nets. Harris, who started well with Crabbe, connected with another to stretch the stream to 20-4 and the mattress to 67-51 with 6:30 to play in the third period.
The Nets beat the Grizzlies 32-18 in the third, the lowest number of points allowed in any quarter this season.