Brooklyn Nets epitomize the term “Next Man Up”

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 24: Spencer Dinwiddie (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 24: Spencer Dinwiddie (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets defeated the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night 98-88 despite losing another key player to injury. This team continues to live out the “next man up” mentality.

The Brooklyn Nets beat the Memphis Grizzlies Sunday night 98-88 but it wasn’t without another blow. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who has transitioned from “bust” to “steal” overnight, went down with a sprained ankle in the second quarter. This season has been a manifestation of Hollis-Jefferson’s ascension and the Nets 2015 first-round pick has shown flashes that may have teams regretting passing up on the forward from Arizona.

Coming into Sunday night’s game against Memphis, the Nets had lost three straight games, making the losses of Jeremy Lin, D’Angelo Russell, and Allen Crabbe extremely difficult to deal with at times given their offensive and defensive contribution to the young squad.

The “next man up” term has become redundant in Brooklyn but it suits this team because somehow, someway, somebody finds a way to contribute and help lead the team to victory when all hope is lost. Led by DeMarre Carroll’s 24 points, Trevor Booker‘s double-double (16 points, 11 rebounds), and Joe Harris‘ 13 points, the Nets were able to build a 19-point lead, including a 14-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

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The fast pace, uptempo play has really been the key factor for the Brooklyn Nets because it’s allowed the team to take advantage of opposing offenses’ off nights by pushing the pace and having more opportunities on offense. With a young team like this, there can never be enough opportunities. All the injuries they’ve encountered this year requires someone to carry the load and Nets coach Kenny Atkinson has done a marvelous job leading his young troops.

Whenever the team appears to be rattled or shows signs of frustration, Atkinson immediately steps in and gets the players to play at their highest level. Prior to entering the locker room at the end of the second quarter, Atkinson pulled Trevor Booker and Caris LeVert aside, applauding them for their effort. These types of coaching strategies pay enormous dividends to a young club that’s consistently counted on day in and day out.

Next: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson becoming reliable second option

The message clearly got through as the Brooklyn Nets were able to outscore the Grizzlies 32-18 in the third quarter. There’s a lot of room for improvement but if the injury bug can leave the Nets alone for the remainder of the season, the return of Hollis-Jefferson, Russell, and Crabbe, along with their “next man up” mentality, can present headaches for any team in their way.