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Wire To Wire Win For Nets On Leap Day

The Nets lock in a decisive win against the Hawks, 124 - 97.

The Brooklyn Nets delivered a wire-to-wire blowout victory for interim coach Kevin Ollie for his first home win, with a 124-97 blowout of the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday at Barclays Center.

It brought Ollie’s record to 2-5 as the Nets interim head coach and the Nets record to 3-5 on Leap Day as the struggling squad fights to stay in contention for the play-in tournament. 

The win came on the heels of a 108-81 shellacking at the hands of the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, the lowest-scoring game for the Nets this season.

The Nets won the opening tip and raced out to an 18-4 lead, punctuated by Mikal Bridges’ 3-pointer that forced Hawks coach Quinn Snyder to call timeout at the 7:17 mark of the first quarter. 

Forward Cam Johnson led all scorers in the first quarter with 12 points on 3-4 shooting from the 3-point line, rewarding Ollie’s leap of faith that returned the versatile Johnson to the starting lineup after a recent stint of coming off the bench.

Johnson drove down the lane after a feed from Dennis Smith Jr. for a resounding dunk that ended the quarter with the Nets up 34-16.

Hawks forward Dejounte Murray drives around screen. Photo: Richard Burroughs For BK Reader

The Hawks bounced back with a 34-point second quarter, led by guard Dejuante Murray’s 14 points and 6 rebounds as he picked up the slack for injured All-Star guard Trae Young, who is sidelined with a torn ligament in his left hand.

It was a close game at the half, with the Nets going into intermission leading 56-50 and racking up 14 assists over the first two quarters.

The Nets rebounded with an impressive showing on both sides of the ball against the Hawks, with the latter coming into Brooklyn averaging 121.1 points per game, ranked 4th in the NBA at game time. That said, the Nets held them under 100 points on 28.6% from the 3-point line.

Interim Coach Ollie’s emphasis on defense showed as the Nets showed connectedness in switching and closing out on shooters.

The Nets opened it up in the third quarter, with Johnson and point guard Dennis Schrodër each scoring 11 points, giving the Nets a 94-75 lead heading into the final frame.

Nets center Day'ron Sharpe shoots floater. Photo: Richard Burroughs For BK Reader

Reserve center Day’Ron Sharpe stunned the crowd in the fourth quarter with two consecutive 3-pointers to help the Nets push their lead to 31 points at the 7:11 mark. It was smooth sailing from that point as Ollie emptied his bench to get his reserves some floor time and keep the roster ready as the Nets gear up for a push for the play-in tournament.

The Nets are 23-36 and in 11th place, or 3.5 games behind the Hawks. Both teams are fighting for the 10th spot in the Eastern Conference, which is the final seed for the play-in tournament.

Nets guard Dennis Shrodër takes handoff. Photo: Richard Burroughs For BK Reader

Cam Johnson led all scorers with his season-high 29 points and is back in the starting lineup, filling in for guard Cam Thomas, listed as day-to-day with a right ankle injury. 

Schrodër had his best game in a Nets uniform, filling up the stat sheet with 23 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists in the victory.

The Nets now travels to Atlanta to play the Hawks in a 3 pm matinee game on Saturday at State Farm Arena.


Richard Burroughs

About the Author: Richard Burroughs

Richard Burroughs is a Brooklyn-based sportswriter and sports enthusiast covering the Brooklyn Nets and the NY Liberty for BK Reader, where he also writes editorial content.
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