On Saturday in Miami, Kenny Atkinson was in a quandary after watching his team fall apart for the third straight game against a losing team and seemingly lose touch with the midseason mojo that carried the Nets into surprising playoff contention. But whatever the Nets had lost, they found it again after lineup changes by Atkinson triggered a 127-88 blowout of the Mavericks on Monday night at Barclays Center.
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak in impressive fashion as the Nets (33-33) got back to .500. They led by as many as 27 points in the third quarter before opening the final period with a 20-2 run for a 44-point lead at 119-75. They went 4-for-4 from three-point range in that stretch.
Rookie Rodions Kurucs had eight of his 19 points in that fourth-quarter run after starting at power forward in place of injured Treveon Graham (back soreness). Caris LeVert returned to the bench in favor of Allen Crabbe at shooting guard, but LeVert had seven of his 18 points in that span.
DeMarre Carroll led the Nets with 22 points off the bench. Spencer Dinwiddie added 16 and D’Angelo Russell had 13 points and 11 assists.
Dwight Powell topped the Mavs (27-36) with 20 points. Dirk Nowitzki had four points in what likely was his final game against the Nets.
“We wanted to change something up,” Atkinson said. “Caris can make an impact coming off the bench or starting. He told me this morning, ‘I really don’t care, Coach, as long as I get my minutes.’ He got his minutes and played well.
“Starting Allen gives us a little more spacing, and Allen with Joe [Harris] out there, the defense has to worry about two shooters. On the second unit, now we have Spencer and Caris, who are both downhill guys. First look at it tonight, I really liked it.”
The Nets held the Mavs to 36 percent shooting and 26.7 percent from three-point range (12-for-45). The Nets shot a torrid 56.5 percent and were 17-for-41 from beyond the arc.
Power forward has been a problem area, but Kurucs and Carroll each turned in 5-for-7 shooting performances from three-point range. Kurucs broke out of a shooting slump.
“Just stick with your game and do the things you do well,” he said. “At the beginning of the season, they started me at the power forward and then they moved me to the small forward. It’s always the same, stretch four . . . I’ve been working a lot with [assistant coach] Chris Fleming. We’ve changed some things and just shooting, shooting every day and improving.”
Dinwiddie looked like his old self, scoring 10 second-quarter points. The Nets led by as many as 24 points before settling for a 65-47 halftime advantage as Luka Doncic hit a halfcourt shot to beat the buzzer.
Russell got the Nets off to a hot start in the third quarter with three assists and a steal as they built a 24-point lead that never dropped below 16 again.
“It was great,” Russell said of the lineup changes. “We trust Coach’s moves. I think we may have figured out some type of recipe.”