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Surprising Pair Ignites Nets’ Playoff Push with Stellar Performance against Hawks


The Nets relied on two unlikely heroes to earn a pivotal win against the Hawks.

The Brooklyn Nets needed some offensive heroics from their supporting cast with Cam Thomas sidelined for Thursday’s pivotal matchup with the Atlanta Hawks. They had yet to find such production in four appearances under interim head coach Kevin Ollie, posting the league’s worst offense (92.8 points per game on 40.5 percent shooting) on their way to a 1-3 record.

Cam Johnson and Dennis Schroder bucked the trend during a 124-97 wire-to-wire win over Atlanta, trimming the Hawks’ lead for the Eastern Conference’s final play-in spot to three games.

Johnson, Schroder step up

Brooklyn Nets forward Cameron Johnson (2) drives up the court after stealing the ball from Memphis Grizzlies guard Vince Williams Jr. (5) during the second half at FedExForum.
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson, who had shot 26.8 percent from three over his last seven appearances entering the game, turned in his best performance with the Nets, posting 29 points and four assists on 10-of-15 shooting from the field and 7-of-11 from three. Meanwhile, Schroder controlled the game at point guard with Ben Simmons sidelined, posting a near-triple-double with 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists on 9-of-15 shooting from the field and 5-of-7 from three.

“Energy dips come when we’re not moving without the basketball and the ball is not moving. We need to share the cake,” Ollie said pregame. “We’ve seen it in the Memphis game, we’ve seen it in portions of the Minnesota game, when all those different things are happening, we’re a pretty good team, no matter who we got on the floor.”

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Ollie also pointed to limiting turnovers as his team’s key to success. Brooklyn responded to his message, posting 32 assists with 10 turnovers while shooting 22-of-46 from three (47.8 percent).

After a 9-26 stretch dating dropped Brooklyn to four games back of the play-in ahead of a pair of matchups with Atlanta, Johnson said the Nets recognized the hole they dug and the opportunity in front of them.

“We absolutely [felt like our backs were against the wall],” Ollie said. “We have to put that urgency from here on out on the rest of the season. It’s unfortunate, but we dug ourselves a hole, and it’s not what we think our group is capable of. So we have to find a way out of that and maybe do a little bit extra. Tonight is just the start, it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t follow it up with next game, the following game, keeping that energy high.”

Brooklyn can cut Atlanta’s lead for tenth place to two games while gaining the tiebreaker during a rematch on Saturday.

“I know Quin is gonna make adjustments,” Ollie said. “He’s gonna come out do his counterpunch and then we got to step it up even another level to get a win.”

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About the Author

Erik Slater is the credentialed Brooklyn Nets beat reporter for ClutchPoints. He’s a graduate of Lehigh University and the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University, as well as a Lehigh Football and Syracuse Football alum.

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