The first three games of the season provided a mixed bag of outcomes for the Brooklyn Nets, ranging from a blowout in Milwaukee, an impressive game-ending run to win in Philadelphia and a complete collapse in the second half of their home opener against the Charlotte Hornets.
The Nets responded nicely Monday against the Washington Wizards with their most complete showing of the young season and hope to follow it up with another strong outing Wednesday night when they host the Miami Heat, who are among the league's top defenses in the early going.
Brooklyn is facing the Heat after getting a 104-90 win in a game where they led by 18 after the first quarter and 25 early in the second quarter and were never seriously threatened. That occurred a day after they were outscored 61-37 following halftime in a 16-point loss to the Hornets.
"It was a great response from the Charlotte game, second half of Charlotte," coach Steve Nash said. "We had a great start, which is a response in itself and something we've suffered from, poor starts. The guys responded."
The response included scoring 38 points in the first quarter after being outscored by a combined 14 points in first quarters previously. The Nets held the Wizards to 34.7 percent from the field after allowing at least 45.7 percent in the first three games.
"Just the attitude and effort. They came to play. The competitive spirit was there. The discipline was there," Nash said. "Defensively our details were good and combative. We got into people and were physical with our defense, and made the extra efforts that I thought were missing (against Charlotte)."
Kevin Durant scored 25 points and is averaging 31 points so far. Patty Mills scored 21 points and is shooting 64 percent (16-of-25) from 3-point range after making five 3-pointers on Monday.
Miami enters its fourth game allowing 95.7 points per game and 39.3 percent shooting, both ranking second-best in the NBA.
The Heat have yet to allow an opponent to score more than 102 points and shoot higher than 40.7 percent. They also have held their first three opponents under 30 percent from 3-point range.
On Monday, Miami rebounded from shooting 38.5 percent in an 11-point loss at Indiana by shooting 47.1 percent in a 107-90 home win over the Orlando Magic. The Heat also allowed Orlando to shoot only 40.7 percent and forced them into missing 32 of 44 3-point tries.
Besides the defense, the Heat are getting stellar showings from Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo in the early going.
Butler is averaging 25.3 points on 52.8 percent shooting and scored 36 points on 15-of-21 shooting Monday when he scored 10 baskets within 10 feet.
"Jimmy is an elite scorer," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He's also an elite playmaker and he's an elite defender. He can do a lot of different things."
Adebayo is averaging 17.7 points and 14 rebounds and has three double-doubles after totaling 16 and 13 boards on Monday.
Herro was held to 13 points Monday but is averaging 23.3 points so far after averaging 15.1 last season.
Brooklyn won two of three meetings last season. The Nets won the first two meetings at home Jan. 23 and 25 before Adebayo hit the game-winning jumper at the buzzer for a 109-107 win in Miami on April 18.
--Field Level Media