Brooklyn Nets‘ trade deadline acquisition Mikal Bridges is growing more comfortable in his new role as go-to-guy.
Bridges only had two 30-point games in 260 regular-season games with the Phoenix Suns in four seasons. He already has three in his first eight games with the Nets, including a 38-point gem Friday night to lead their 28-point comeback in Boston.
“I think when I got traded, it was kind of at the right time because when everybody was out in Phoenix, I had to take up another role offensively and be more aggressive,” Bridges said. “By the time I got traded, I was in a great rhythm and was confident.”
Bridges had six straight 20-plus point games with the Suns before he became the centerpiece of the Kevin Durant trade.
With a larger role in a reshaped Nets roster, Bridges has taken another leap.
Bridges added 10 rebounds for his first double-double in a Nets uniform, his fifth in his career. He also had four assists and a steal as he played all but 5:15 of the epic game.
The 26-year-old Bridges scored 25 points in the middle quarter as the Nets stormed back from a 51-23 hole with 7:23 left in the first half to match their largest comeback in franchise history.
Bridges shot 13 of 22 from the field, and 4 of 6 from downtown. His longtime teammate (from Suns to Nets), Cam Johnson, celebrated his 27th birthday with 20 points and the victory.
But more than their scoring exploits, Bridges said their defense finally came together after a string of blowout losses.
“We realized over a couple of games that offense wasn’t really our problem,” Bridges said. “I feel like our offense is pretty good. But our defense, we got stops and stayed together possession-by-possession.”
After getting buried in the first 16 minutes of the game, the Nets outscored the Celtics, 92-54, the rest of the way.
They forced Celtics to 19 turnovers and limited them to just 9 of 29 from the three-point zone.
Bridges continue to bridge the past and the present Nets era with a shift in mindset from a complementary 3-and-D wing to carrying a team on his wings.
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