Irving, cars parked on parking lot during daytime

Mikal Bridges performances help Nets resurge this week

After a horrendous four game losing streak following the NBA All-Star break, the Brooklyn Nets were able to create some life within themselves by winning three in a row this past week. The Nets are currently 37-29 and in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Nets started off strong with defeating the Boston Celtics for the first time in four meetings in a 115 to 105 victory on Mar. 3. The Celtics were up by as much as 28 points when Nets small forward, Mikal Bridges picked up the offense and led a comeback with another 30-plus point game. The Nets were up 37 to 15 at the end of the first quarter when they began to push back offensively in the second quarter.

Despite being down 28, Jacque Vaughn's Nets became relentless midway through the second, with Bridges leading the charge to cut Brooklyn's deficit to nine points heading into half-time. The Nets took this momentum into the second half and surmounted the biggest comeback they have made all season, a title previously owned by the Los Angeles Lakers in their win over the Dallas Mavericks on February 26th

Bridges had 38 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists for the Nets, while Cam Johnson added 20 points, and Nicolas Claxton had 12 rebounds on the night. Jalen Brown was the leading scorer for the Celtics with 35 points, and while Jayson Tatum scored 22, he could not shoot well from the three-point line, where he went 0 of 7. Derrick White led the Celtics' bench in points with 16 points.

Bridges did it again for the Nets when they went up against the Charlotte Hornets on Mar. 5, as he had a perfect first quarter, going 9 of 9 with 19 points to lead the Nets to a 102 to 86 win. The Nets created an absurd deficit for the Hornets and were up by as much as 37 points to create an insurmountable lead. It is clear that the Hornets have no rhythm offensively without their best player, LaMelo Ball, who is out for the rest of the season with a fractured right ankle.

Bridges had 33 points and 8 rebounds, shooting 12 of 21 from the field, and Dinwiddie behind with 24 points. Claxton had 8 points and 12 rebounds, and Johnson had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Off the bench, Joe Harris shot 4 of 6 from the 3-point line to score 12 points for the Nets. 

Kelly Oubre Jr. was the leading scorer for the Hornets with 17 points, along with Terry Rozier with 16 points, Gordon Hayward with 12 points, and Mark Williams with 10 points and 14 rebounds. Off the bench, Dennis Smith Jr. had 15 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. The Nets took care of the Hornets before they headed out on the road.

As the Nets arrived in Houston to face the Rockets on Mar. 7, it was Bridges who was able to make things happen once again for the Nets and lead them to their third straight win and defeat the Rockets 118 to 96. Bridges’ 30-point outing against the Rockets made it his third straight game with 30 points and his fifth overall since joining the Nets. 

Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn had nothing but praise for Bridges and his productivity on the court, claiming he is a very unselfish player and gives up his time and knowledge in the locker room and during games. The win against the Bulls has made it their longest winning streak since their 12-game winning streak that lasted from December to January. 

For the Nets, Bridges had 30 points and five assists, while Dinwiddie scored 23 points on 8 of 16 shooting. The bench stepped up with Seth Curry scoring 12 points, Harris adding 12 points, and Royce O’Neale adding 11 points. Jalen Green led the charge for the Rockets with 25 points, and Alperen Sengun had 16 points and 12 rebounds. Jae’Sean Tate also pu up 11 points off the bench for Houston, but their efforts were not enough to defeat the Nets.

While the Bucks were without their all-star Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks managed to keep their 20-game win streak after beating the Nets on Mar. 9 thanks to epic offensive performances from Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis on the road to a 118 to 113 win. In terms of Brooklyn, they were without a couple of starters due to injuries such as Dinwiddie, Johnson, and Claxton, along with O’Neale and Ben Simmons. Only Bridges and Finney-Smith Jr. were available against the Bucks who were able to keep it a close game despite being down by 17 points in the first quarter. It was the Nets’ bench that was able to make things happen with Cam Thomas, Patty Mills, and Dru Smith stepping up offensively, but their efforts were not enough to take down Milwaukee. 

Bridges was the only player in the Nets starting lineup who had double-digit points with 10 and Curry was the only other player amongst the starters to score with 5 points. The rest of the offense was carried by the Nets' bench as Mills had 23 points, Thomas had 21 points, and Smith had 17 points.

Portis led the offensive scoring for Milwaukee with 28 points and 13 rebounds and his teammate and former Net, Brook Lopez was right behind him on the scoresheet with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 9 blocks, while Grayson Allen contributed 19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.

The Nets have had an interesting few weeks since the end of the All-Star break. The Nets looked absolutely lost and had no sense of control after losing four straight games, including getting demolished by Boston. Then the next week, they were able to change things around thanks to great offensive performances by Mikal Bridges. It’s clear that Mikal is the star of the Nets, pulling the Nets through a season where they lost All-Stars, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

While Mikal is not either of those players by a long shot, he’s been the light in the dark cloud that the Nets have had looming above them since losing their two star players. While a championship may be near-impossible for this squad, it will be interesting to see if they can make a run in the playoffs with a healthy squad.