NEW ORLEANS — Another day, another Nets blowout. But there was a major twist to what was becoming a tired story.
After 11 straight losses and 16 defeats in their previous 17 games, all of the Nets’ mounting frustrations were released in the course of their 143-114 victory over the Pelicans on Friday night at Smoothie King Arena.
Amazingly, they scored a season high without two of their top five scorers. The Nets rested starting power forward Trevor Booker and reserve guard Sean Kilpatrick, their second-leading scorer.
“The thing that made me proud is their spirit,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “It didn’t seem like a team that’s been on a losing streak. We’ve had some tough times, but they really stayed together through this tough stretch. It’s nice to see them get rewarded.”
Brook Lopez led the way with 23 points and eight rebounds and Bojan Bogdanovic added 23 points and six rebounds. But the real key to the victory was an outstanding performance by the Nets’ bench, which scored a season-high 73 points to 47 by the Pelicans’ reserves.
Rookie first-round pick Caris LeVert had a superb game, scoring 17 points and shooting 6-for-6, including three three-pointers. He added five rebounds and six assists.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 12 points and seven rebounds. Quincy Acy, starting his second 10-day contract, added 12 points and eight rebounds and Randy Foye scored 11 points, including three three-pointers.
The Nets (9-33) shot 57.8 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from three-point range (15-for-30) to gain only their second road win of the season and break a 15-game road losing streak.
“That’s an interesting group,” Atkinson said of his bench. “You’ve got Quincy, Rondae, they’re fast, they’re long. Isaiah [Whitehead, who was plus-36] was out there with that group. Maybe we stumbled on to something, maybe we didn’t. But it was interesting. Throw Caris out there, too.”
Western Conference All-Star center Anthony Davis led the Pelicans (17-27) with 22 points and nine rebounds but was held scoreless in the seven second-half minutes he played.
The third quarter often has been a Nets nightmare, but they began with a 10-2 run to build a 76-56 lead. The Pelicans cut it to 16, but the Nets responded with another 10-2 surge by the bench for a 100-76 lead. They led by as many as 33 points.
“We were so good on the defensive end, really helping each other,” Lopez said. “It was so important the way we came out in the third quarter and just made a statement, held the lead and went from there.”
In the first half, the Nets took charge with an extended run of 34-12 from the first quarter into the second for a 55-42 lead. The Nets had six three-pointers or three-point plays during that span. They scored a season-high 37 points in the second period.
Building on their 12-point halftime lead in the third quarter was a new wrinkle.
“We’ve seen it in the third quarter, where we start leaking points,” Atkinson said. “Getting stops was huge. That was the key moment. We showed good resiliency there.”
It was only one win, but it was badly needed by the Nets, who will face the Hornets on Saturday night in Charlotte.
“We need to do more of the things you saw tonight,” Lopez said. “It was a completely different look for us. We have a good opportunity to go into Charlotte and do more of the same.”