This might fly in the face of conventional wisdom, but the Nets are trending upward as a tough out in the fourth quarter. The sample size is just three games and the Nets are 1-2, but they lead the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring and are second in scoring margin after putting together three straight comebacks in the final period.
The Nets are averaging 34.0 points in the fourth and holding opponents to 23.3, a 10.7-point differential. In the opener at Boston, they cut a 23-point deficit to three in the final minute of a loss, and they overcame a seven-point deficit in the home opener to beat Indiana by nine. On Saturday night in Milwaukee, while playing without center Brook Lopez, who was being rested, the Nets came from nine down to tie with 11.6 seconds left, only to lose at the buzzer.
“Definitely we’re building belief the first three games in,” Jeremy Lin said. “I think with confidence, you’ve got to see the results of your hard work continually. It’s one of those things that once you get to a certain level, you kind of raise that standard for yourself. This is kind of a first step that you need if you want to get where you need to go as a team and an organization.”
One of the major factors in the Nets’ fourth-quarter success is their .507 shooting percentage (34-for-67), but Lin had a 4-for-16 shooting night against the Bucks. He made only one of his five shots in the final period, missing all three from three-point range.
“We got great shots. We moved the ball. We played unselfish and had a chance to win,” Lin said. “For me, I’ve just got to hit more shots in the fourth quarter, and I think that would have been the difference.”
The absence of Lopez, who was rested as part of the club’s “holistic” approach to optimize each player’s chance for peak performance over the long term, hurt the Nets’ chances for a road win. They were outscored 54-42 in the paint.
When asked if Lopez might have made the difference, Lin said: “It’s winnable with him for sure, but I trust the staff, I trust the performance team and I trust Brook. I’m pretty sure he’s on the same page with everybody. I’m just going to keep trusting everybody in going through the process. Definitely he would be a big boost, but I don’t question the decision at all.”
Notes & quotes: The Nets exercised their team option to sign forwards Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris McCullough through the 2017-18 season.