Nets blow out Wizards by 42 points in best win of season, 128-86

Whew, did Nets Nation ever need this one.

In what could best be described as a traumatic week for the franchise, the Nets—who entered Friday’s contest at just 2-6 on the season—blew the doors off the Washington Wizards in what was easily the best win of the season. The 42-point victory was also historic. It was Brooklyn’s third-largest margin of victory and matched the largest road margin in franchise history; conversely, it was the largest home defeat in Washington’s history.

“It was a collective team effort,” said Joe Harris. “We did a great job sharing the ball—32 assists is unbelievable—you always put yourself in a good position to win when you do that. And then defensively, we just kind of took it up another notch; communication was really good, guys were selling out for one another.”

Kevin Durant led the charge for the Nets with a near-triple-double. He finished with 28 points, a season-high 11 assists, and 9 rebounds. He was about as animated as he’s looked this season, cheering on his teammates throughout the 42-point blowout.

“Kevin was a hub for us tonight,” said coach Jacque Vaughn. “Really put them in a tough bind of double-teaming him, he was a willing passer and then he capitalized when he had the opportunities to.”

Brooklyn’s sophomores also showed up to play. Cam Thomas impressed in his first real appearance of the season, dropping 17 points and 6 assists in 30 minutes. David Duke Jr. was equally impressive, defending multiple positions and dropping 11 points in 13 minutes.

It’d be silly to leave out mention of Yuta Watanabe, who had 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting and filled it up defensively with a steal and two blocks as Brooklyn’s de-facto 5-man in a super solid small-ball unit.

“Just just shooting with confidence,” said Watanabe about his hot 58.3% start from deep. “And like, it’s easy when you have teammates like KD or Kai because they double-team them every time. So someone’s going to be wide open… So I’m just making the wide-open shots just like practice.”

Bradley Beal (20 points) and Kyle Kuzma (19 points) led the charge for the Wizards, who fell to 4-5 on the season.

Though this shouldn’t be surprising, the Nets had a significant advantage in almost every single major statistical category against Washington. Brooklyn shot 50% (14-of-28) from three compared to Washington’s mere 23.5% (8-of-34). Brooklyn also rarely coughed the rock up, finishing with just nine turnovers, whereas the Wizards had 14 giveaways on Friday. Brooklyn’s 32 assists dwarfed Washington’s 18, and the Nets even beasted Washington in points in the paint, winning 60-40 in this statistical category.

The Wizards started off the game on an absolute tear. Washington nailed its first 6-of-8 shots and canned 3-of-4 three-pointers to force a timeout from the Nets at the 8-minute mark in the first. Royce O’Neale, meanwhile, began to carry the load for the Nets with 10 early points through six minutes of play.

Then, when Brooklyn put its bench brigade of Cam Thomas, Markieff Morris, and Patty Mills next to Durant and Joe Harris, the Nets went on a 15-0 run to end the first ahead 38-28.

The second quarter was all about the sophomores. Duke Jr. led things off for the Nets with 6 early points on multiple acrobatic layups in transition. Cam Thomas, meanwhile, loaded it up with seven quick points, nailing a 3-pointer while displaying his improved playmaking skills. Then Durant closed things out in the second with five points in the final 30 seconds, including a deep 28-foot three. All the while, Brooklyn went on an 11-0 run in the final 1:45 minutes of play to bring their lead up to 69-57 at the half.

Brooklyn only grew its lead in the third; Edmond Sumner hit acrobatic layups at the rim, KD hit a 31-foot three-pointer, and Joe Harris showed signs of life with a layup and a three off a KD pass. When Durant hit a trademarked midrange jumper off a crossover, the Nets sat firmly in the driver’s seat, ahead 85-60 with 6:59 to spare in the third. The Nets continued to maintain this advantage, finishing the quarter up 96-70 with Durant mostly on the bench.

It was Nic Claxton’s time to shine in the fourth, slamming down a pair of dunks, a gorgeous alley-oop layup off a Thomas pass, and then swatting away a Kuzma layup at the rim. Behind the Clax Attack, the Nets’ advantage grew to thirty points. Just like we all expected.

In the end, that 30-point advantage grew to forty for Brooklyn’s best win of the season.

The Film Room

The evolution of Cam Thomas’ game is something to watch. Prior to Friday, Thomas had played in just 15 total minutes on the season. This did not sit well with the sophomore scorer, who changed his Instagram header to #FreeCT as an advocation for more minutes.

(This, of course, was mostly lost in the shuffle amidst all *waves arms frantically* of the Nets drama.)

Well, Cam made the most of his opportunity on Friday, displaying growth in his game. For starters, Thomas flashed his passing chops that have grown incrementally since the preseason, as mentioned, feeding his big men a steady diet of dump-offs and alley-oop passes while operating as the initiator in the pick-and-roll. His partnership with Nic Claxton was particularly potent, with the pair of sub-24-year-olds connecting on multiple slam dunks in the fourth.

“He has the ability to make plays,” said Vaughn about Thomas. “He’s grown as a basketball player to make plays for himself and others.”

In what should produce a sigh of relief for Nets fans, Thomas also cashed a catch-and-shoot three when Washington sent a double-team toward Kevin Durant in the high post in the second quarter. Thomas, of course, shot just 27% from deep last season and looked particularly uncomfortable taking stationary threes within the flow of the offense.

He also made a concerted effort to drive all the way to the basket. Though Cam is a prolific short midrange scorer, shooting 55% from that area of the floor (94th percentile at his position!), he’s also a terrific bulky downhill thread who drew a massive 44% free-throw rate in college. It’s good for him to diversify his offense to give himself more opportunities to draw contact at the rim.

With the franchise’s future uncertain, Cam Thomas made a clear case for being one of the building blocks going forward—with or without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

An (of sorts) update on Ben Simmons

Brooklyn’s third star, Ben Simmons, missed his third-straight game with knee soreness on Friday and has already been ruled out of Saturday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets. Interim coach, Jacque Vaughn, spoke on the health status of Simmons before Friday’s game, stating that Simmons was dealing with swelling in his knee. The Nets gave Simmons an MRI that came back clean (whew!) and drained the knee to aid its healing.

In other Simmons news, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Nets—and Kevin Durant specifically–felt Simmons was a source of frustration because of his inability to stay on the floor.

Joe Tsai happy with team performance

Nets ask Amazon to remove Hebrews to Negroes

The Nets and the Anti-Discrimination League on Friday asked that Amazon and Jeff Bezos to remove links — or add a warning — to Hebrews to Negroes, the video that Kyrie Irving publicized eight days ago, setting up the controversy that ultimately led to Irving’s suspension.

Shams Charania and Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic broke the news…

Last month, ESPN reported that Bezos might be interested in buying the Phoenix Suns which is up for sale following the NBA report on inappropriate actions by current owner Robert Sarver.

NBPA wants to meet on Kyrie Irving issue

Kyrie Irving has been a vice-president of the NBPA, the players union. for several years now. The NBPA has long defended Irving on other issues, but earlier in the week, it condemned both antisemitism and hate speech … without mentioning Irving by name. Now, says another of the union vice presidents, the union would like to meet with Irving on the issue, per MassLive.com

“I think we will but currently, there are a lot of matters as well,” Williams told MassLive. “I think we’ll get together as a group potentially — everything has been through the team. It has been not been a league issue to this point. It hasn’t been an NBA/NBPA issue. The Nets and the league have taken care of that and dealing with Kyrie and the process there. We don’t have much control on that matter.”

Williams said the meeting will be part of the union’s attempt to better understand the issue, but was careful to condemn “hate speech.”

“I haven’t had much communication with him on the manner,” Williams said. “For me, I’m trying my best to educate myself on the situation, understand what has been said and has been done. You don’t promote any type of hate speech or anything like that. You do your best to stay informed on the matter and gain all the information before making decision to support each side. You try your best to educate yourself and outside of that, I don’t have much to say because I don’t know much about the matter because I’ve tried to keep my eyes on the right thing and moving forward.”

Some history for NBA

For the first time in NBA history as far as we can tell, an NBA game featured three Japanese-born players: the Nets Yuta Watanabe, the Wizards Rui Hachimura … and the Nets Cam Thomas who was born in a U.S. military hospital in Japan.

White Basquiat is coming

Nets fans have been hankering for a return of the popular Jean-Michel Basquiat jerseys, which the Brooklyns wore two years ago. The Nets wore the away black version of the uniform back then. Now, we are told. the home white version of the Basquiat jersey, modeled on the work of the 1970s artist will be unveiled sometime next week.

Here’s the look, according to various reports online…

As Sponge Bob might say…

What’s next

The Brooklyn Nets head to Charlotte to take on the 3-6 Hornets for the second half of the weekend back-to-back. Coverage begins on the YES Network at 7 PM EST.

For a different perspective on tonight’s game, head to Bullets Forever, our Wizards sister site.

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