Behind a career-high 27 points and a career-high tying seven assists from Brooks, who hit his first 10 shots, the Nets guaranteed themselves their first winning season on the road in their NBA franchise history after throttling the Cleveland Cavaliers, 113-95, on Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
Brooklyn (43-31), which picked up its franchise-record 21st road victory, ended up going 5-3 on its grueling eight-game, 17-day circus trip.
“In 36 years for the franchise, this is the most wins we’ve ever had ... that’s a significant achievement,” Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo told reporters in Cleveland.
Brooks, who was making his first start of the season -- and 48th of his career -- because Joe Johnson (fifth straight, heel) and Gerald Wallace (foot) missed the game due to injuries, went a perfect 9-for-9 in the first half and finished with a carer-high 12 made field goals on 16 attempts in 37 minutes.
Deron Williams dunked for the first time this season.
“It was a great opportunity. We’re trying to make a run, trying to get it going, going into the playoffs,” Brooks told YES Network. “Chicago’s right on our heels. We know we’ve got a big game tomorrow (against the Bulls), so I just wanted to come out and be aggressive. Coach has been giving me a lot of extended minutes lately, and it’s paid off. I’m starting to get into a rhythm. I’m starting to actually play my game.”
For the majority of the season, Brooks’ minutes have been much like his game: inconsistent. But in his last three games, the 24-year-old shooting has played no less than 29 minutes. And it’s translated into more consistent performances out of the second-year pro.
“That’s crazy,” Brooks said when told he knocked down his first 10 attempts from the field. “For a scorer like me, when you hit your first couple shots, it’s easy to have a game like this. But I’ve got to work on my mental capacity to where I miss a few shots to take those same shots I took today and continue to be aggressive.”
Deron Williams added 24 points, eight assists and his first dunk of the season -- his ankles must be fine -- while Reggie Evans snagged 18 rebounds. C.J. Watson, who came in shooting 54.4 percent from 3-point range in his previous 21 games, went 4-for-4 from downtown and added a season-high seven assists.
In the first half, the Nets shot a season-high 73 percent from the field and scored a season-high 66 points as they led by 30 at the break.
The Nets came in having never won more than four games on any single road trip in franchise history. That’s no longer the case.
Brooklyn, which improved to 27-4 against sub-.500 teams, shot 56.6 percent from the field and dished out a season-high 31 assists as a team.
“It’s been tough. Especially those last couple games in Denver and Utah,” Brooks said. “It’s tough but it brought us closer, the road trip brought us closer. It was tough on everybody, everybody missed their families, but that’s what they pay us the big bucks for, so we had to go out there and take care of business.”