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Jokic posts career night as Nets fall to Denver, 112-104

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Brooklyn Nets v Denver Nuggets Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

There’s no ‘D’ in ‘Brooklyn Nets.’ Especially against bigs.

After ending their four-game losing streak against the Phoenix Suns Monday night, the Nets followed up with a disappointing effort in a 112-104 loss in Denver 24 hours later. It was the second night of a back-to-back for the young Nets, a game played in the mile-high altitude of Colorado.

They hung around in the first half and appeared lucky to be down just 13 points at half. But then, Denver came out punching in the second half and it was all over. Nikola Jokic, scored 41 points, becoming the sixth player to drop 30 or more points against Brooklyn in 11 games.

Jokic went off early in the third and the Nuggets extended a 13-point lead to 25. Jokic scored 15 of his 41 points in the quarter to go along with 12 rebounds and five assists. The 41 points mark a new career-high for Jokic, the fourth NBA big to post their best numbers ever vs. Brooklyn. Brooklyn’s frontcourt issues were exposed again, as Millsap and Jokic combined for 58 points on 23-of-36 shooting. Jokic out-scored Brooklyn’s starting unit 41-40!

Brooklyn had three active players above 6’8” available: Timofey Mozgov, Tyler Zeller, and Jacob Wiley, the Long Island Nets two-way signing.

Aside from the big issues, everything the Nets have preached was missing. Things like effort, ball movement, defense, grit, etc. They shot 11-of-35 from deep and coughed the ball up 25 times - a season-high.

Other than Tyler Zeller (21 points), nobody stepped up on the offensive side. The Nets may have wanted to wait around for D’Angelo Russell to get going, but he struggled all night. He turned the ball over eight times and scored just 12 points in 21 minutes.

Atkinson benched Russell one minute into the 3rd quarter after he committed his sixth turnover in 16 minutes. He subbed him back in 20 seconds later. It was another opportunity for Atkinson to talk with him one-on-one, which he did Monday night as well.

This isn’t only on Russell, though.

The 21-year-old is bound to make mistakes and with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Trevor Booker sitting out, the Nets looked lackadaisical and timid to say the least. There was no ‘next man up’ mentality.

Allen Crabbe has struggled to stay consistent early this season. Coming off a 15-point night and a 25-point night the game before, Crabbe shot 1-of-8 from the field. Spencer Dinwiddie started with D’Angelo Russell in the backcourt, but saw only 17 minutes.

The Nets have lost five of the last six and haven’t won two straight games on the road since the 2015-16 season. At 4-7, the Nets will face the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.

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WILEY, WHITEHEAD MAKE DEBUT

Two-way player Jacob Wiley made his NBA debut early in the second quarter. He finished with four points, eight rebounds, one assist and a steal in 21 minutes. Isaiah Whitehead also logged his first minutes in the second half and finished with five points and four steals in 15 minutes. Whitehead was recalled from Long Island earlier today so he could fly out to Denver and meet the team. This will be a trend this season.

ATKINSON ADJUSTS THE LINEUP

For the first time of the season, Kenny Atkinson started Spencer Dinwiddie alongside D’Angelo Russell in the backcourt. No word if this is something they’ll pursue going forward, but with the injury to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Atkinson slid Allen Crabbe to the three slot and DeMarre Carroll to the four.

BROOKYN’S BIGS REMAIN BANGED UP

Trevor Booker missed his third straight game (back), Jarrett Allen missed his fourth straight (foot), and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was out with a right hip contusion which he suffered in Monday’s victory over the Phoenix Suns.

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It would be nice to see some heart and effort from the Nets, similar to how they played in the first five games of the season. The momentum appears to be gone and nobody knows where it is.

For a different perspective on the game, head over to Denver Stiffs.