Injured with Kyrie Irving, the nets need to fight more of Caris LeVert. More minutes, more points, more everything. And Monday he gave it to them.
LeVert's best performance in months led the networks to a simple 119-97 router from Phoenix before 14,891 at the Barclays Center. The fact that he faced the team he was injured against was the icing on the cake on a sweet payback cake.
"It was huge for us. We played a great game, ”said LeVert in a post-game interview on the pitch. The key? “Defense: you had 97 points.
"I fought a little, so it was good to have one of those games."
The last time the Nets faced the Suns on November 10, they lost by 26 and lost LeVert to a thumb injury that cost him 24 games in a row. But on his first start since that night, the young security guard led the nets to a defeat in the rematch.
It was the most one-sided win of the season, a 22-point win for Atlanta on January 12th.
LeVert confidently filled Irving's all-star shoes with 29 points and seven assists. The templates were a seasonal high. The points corresponded to a career high against Houston on November 2, 2018. The end result was a much needed laugh for the home team.
LeVert was in the middle of a 19-2 run that turned a 59:58 nail biter into an 18-point pillow in the third quarter. Then he watched Mikal Bridges fall to the ground trying to protect him, and dug a 3-pointer into the Phoenix striker's face to gain a 103-82 lead in the fourth.
When he sat down, it was in his pocket and the nets had improved to 22-27.
Given that the nets will get by without irving – his right knee sprain is unlikely to be re-evaluated until Sunday, meaning he will miss at least two more games – this is a good sign after Kenny Atkinson confirmed that he needs more from LeVert.
"Absolutely. We'll think in a moment. Yes, he has to play more minutes and we have to push it forward. I have to push it personally," said Atkinson. "We all know how good a player Caris is. Yes, he will play more minutes He is playing a backup point guard protocol.
"As I said, for me it's only a matter of time before he gets his rhythm back. I know he's trying. But that could give him a little boost if he could definitely get more minutes."
After the season started in flames with an average of 16.8 points, five rebounds and four assists in the first nine games – all starts – LeVert suffered a ligament damage that damaged his thumb. The injury required surgery and forced him to miss two dozen games. It also cost him his rhythm, since LeVert has shot an average of only 11.1 points to 34.4 percent since his return.
For the first time since Suns' game almost three months ago, LeVert had 13 points in the first 13 minutes.
The Nets clung to a 59:58 lead after a Bridges score before opening the game with a 19-2 run.
Sun's tall man, Cheick Diallo, scored a 65-60 goal for Phoenix. But the networks have lost 13 unanswered points. Taurean Prince (15 points, 6 rebounds) hit two 3 points in the sprint and ended it with a steal and transition layup for a 78-60 pillow.
Joe Harris ended the tournament with 16 points, confirming that he will defend his 3-point title on All-Star Weekend.
Deandre Ayton had 25 points and 17 boards for Phoenix.