It was a long time coming, but the Nets sent their fans into the offseason with a positive memory with a 114-105 victory over the Bulls in the home finale Monday night at Barclays Center. Allen Crabbe’s career-high 41 points highlighted the Nets’ first three-game winning streak of the season.
Crabbe shot 12-for-15, including 8-for-11 from three-point range. The Nets (28-53) also got 21 points and 11 assists from D’Angelo Russell and 20 points and seven assists from Spencer Dinwiddie. Former Net Sean Kilpatrick’s 16 points led the Bulls (27-54), who were swept by the Nets, 3-0.
Crabbe is averaging 28.7 points in his past three games. The Nets made at least 18 three-pointers and shot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc in all three of those games.
Asked about Crabbe’s brilliant shooting, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said, “I just shook his hand after the game, and it was still hot, still cooking. He’s really finishing the season the way we’re asking [the team] to finish on a strong note.”
Crabbe has 196 made three-pointers, a franchise record, and his 13.2 scoring average is the best of his five-season NBA career. He was delighted to have that kind of game on his 26th birthday, but his ultimate takeaway is that he can do more.
“The ball is going in the hoop for me,” he said. “I could have been doing this all season. I’m getting the same shots I was getting earlier in the season, I just wasn’t making them. It’s starting to come around for me, I’m starting to find my rhythm, and I’m just getting more comfortable within the flow of the offense.”
He added: “I’m glad I had this night on my birthday and we got the win. So it’s just the cherry on top.”
The Bulls sat out several key players, but they did return Lauri Markkanen to the lineup. The Nets were without injured DeMarre Carroll, Joe Harris and Caris LeVert, so their manpower also was compromised.
Crabbe picked up right where the Nets left off in Chicago on Saturday, when they hit 24 threes, one shy of the NBA record. He scored 20 of the Nets’ first 22 points and had 29 by halftime. In the third quarter, the Nets’ lead reached a high of 11 and Crabbe tied his career high with his eighth three. But the Nets went to the final quarter with a mere three-point cushion.
At one point in the fourth quarter, the Nets made four straight threes to push their lead to 102-94. The Bulls cut their deficit to four three times before Russell took over, hitting a jumper, throwing an alley-oop pass to Jarrett Allen and driving for a layup that made it 112-102. Two foul shots by Crabbe gave the Nets a 12-point lead with 1:08 to go and sealed the deal.
The Nets are 7-5 in their past 12 games heading to Boston for the season finale Wednesday night. “Maybe we’re turning that corner we wanted to hit earlier in the season,” Crabbe said.
With a shrug, he added, “Better late than never.”