TORONTO — The Nets reportedly rejected overtures from the Rockets trying to pry away DeAndre Jordan, and Saturday the veteran center underscored why they held on to him.
Jordan had 15 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks — and his late defense that helped the Nets battle back from an 18-point third-quarter deficit that fell just short in a 119-118 loss to the Raptors.
“[Jordan] was our defensive anchor. I felt like we weren’t getting that resistance, and he anchored our defense,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “He did a good job on [Serge] Ibaka, was patrolling the paint. He got us back in the game with his defense.”
Just as general manager Sean Marks said no to trading starting center Jarrett Allen to get Clint Capela, he opted to keep Jordan as well, ESPN reported late Friday.
Caris LeVert had a career-high 37 points on 12-of-18 shooting. He has topped his career-high twice this week, and is averaging 29.7 points over his past three games.
“That’s the All-Star Caris we saw at the beginning of last year and in the playoffs last year,” Atkinson said.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, after being a two-way player and grinding through a pair of 10-day deals — the NBA’s version of a temp job — played his first game as a Net with his new multi-year contract.
“It’s just amazing,” Luwawu-Cabarrot told The Post before going 1-for-8 (1-for-6 from 3-point range) with four rebounds in just over 15 minutes. “When people trust you and give you that confidence, it’s amazing. That’s when you are the best version of yourself, and when you are confident. It’s great to call Brooklyn home, for sure.“Those two things were things I really put focus on and they saw it. Defensively, I took it personal, like a challenge every single day, know the game plan, don’t make rookie mistakes like I used to.”
“Yeah I took that as a challenge. When I got here, the first thing they told me is that you came in the league supposed to be a good defender and you never showed it, never actually played at the level you were supposed to play, shoot the ball as good as you were supposed to shoot the ball.
Kyrie Irving (knee) hasn’t been ruled out of Wednesday’s home game against the Raptors, the last one before the All-Star break.
“There’s a chance he could play. Knowing him, he’ll want to play if he’s cleared. We just don’t know yet,” Atkinson said. “We’ve got to wait until we get back and see how it’s going.”