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They battled: Nets fall in San Antonio for 15th straight time, 109-97

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Kenny Atkinson said before the game that the Nets “don’t think about the past.” By that, he meant Brooklyn’s (now) 15-game losing streak in San Antonio, the last win coming in the 2003 NBA Finals, the franchise’s high point.

And so, San Antonio took down the Nets, 109-97, Tuesday night at the AT&T Center. The Nets (12-21) have lost five of the last six – and are nine games below .500. The Nets are now 4-41 against the Spurs in franchise history.

The Spurs must have watched film on Brooklyn’s game at Indiana on Saturday, because they knew just how to take them out of their comfort zone on offense.

They pressed up and played Brooklyn’s guards and wings extremely tight on the perimeter, forcing them to put them ball on the floor and drive the lane. This is not their strong suit, and it showed.

The Nets didn’t hit their first 3-pointer until the 7:30 mark of the second quarter. They finished the night 12-of-32 from three, 42 percent overall. The pace was exactly where San Antonio wanted it to be.

They fought all throughout the first half and even led a couple of times during an exchange of buckets, but San Antonio finished on a 9-2 run and led by six entering the half. It wasn’t that bad for Brooklyn, considering the pace of the game and the lack of production within the perimeter.

The game was tied at 54 apiece when San Antonio began pulling away. The went on an 11-0 run, 22-6 extended, and led by 16, but the Nets battled enough to chop it down to 11 entering the fourth.

They got it within eight late in the fourth, but the Spurs increased the lead to 12 with under two minutes remaining and closed this thing out.

Kenny Atkinson unleashed the bench squad, including two-way player Milton Doyle, who logged his first minutes in the NBA.

This was a game played predominantly inside the paint, and Jarrett Allen thrived. He kept the Nets afloat, particularly on the defensive end, where his 7-6 wingspan posed as a legitimate issue for San Antonio. He finished with 12 points and a season/career-high nine rebounds – five offensive – his second consecutive game with five or more offensive rebounds.

The same can be said for Caris LeVert, who played well with defenders overplaying him at the perimeter. LeVert finds ways to slip into the paint and create down low. Furthermore, he did controlled the tempo once again, a trend since he became backup point.

Allen Crabbe nailed four 3-pointers but turned the ball over five times. DeMarre Carroll struggled with two points on 1-of-10 shooting.

For San Antonio, Kawhi Leonard led the way with 21 points, as he was one of six Spurs’ players in double figures. He played only 23 minutes as part of his extended recuperation from persistent leg issues.

The difference wasn’t so much poor shooting or even slower pace, rather the free throw differential. San Antonio took 24 free throws to Brooklyn’s nine.

The Spurs forced them into the paint and it worked. The Nets will play the third game of this 5-game road trip tomorrow against the New Orleans Pelicans.

MILTON DOYLE DEBUT

Milton Doyle, the 6’4” point guard who’s been torching the G-League on Long Island, made his NBA debut Tuesday, scoring two points on free throws late in the game. Doyle, signed to a two-way deal last week, has been with the big club while Isaiah Whitehead has been getting minutes with the Long Island Nets.

For a different perspective, head on over to Pounding the Rock.