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Nightmare in New Orleans: Nets drop third straight with 128-113 blowout loss

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Talk about a nightmare for the Brooklyn Nets.

The Nets have struggled with physical bigs who can stretch the floor all season. Thus, a matchup against Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins would sound like their biggest fear. And indeed, the two lifted the Pelicans to a 128-113 victory over the Nets Wednesday night in New Orleans.

Davis and Cousins combined for 60 points, 25 rebounds, seven blocked shots on 21-of-38 shooting. Rajon Rondo, meanwhile, finished with a career-high 25 assists compared to Brooklyn’s 26 assists ... as a team. That’s the most an opponent has dished out against the Nets.

And so, the Nets have lost three straight, six of seven and have fallen 10 games below .500. And twice, they’ve been blown out ... the only two times they’ve been hammered this season.

“That’s two of them this year: Toronto and [Wednesday]. It’s not good for anybody. It’s not good for the team, it’s not good for the organization, the fans don’t like it, I understand that,” Kenny Atkinson said. “And I think our players, overall, they understand. The good thing about our group, they’ve always bounced back. I expect them to bounce back in these next games.”

Atkinson once again hinted there could be changes in the starting line-up.

The Pelicans took very little time to get going. They trailed 13-10 earlier in the first, but answered with a 14-2 run and took a double-digit lead. They never looked back from that point on. They scored 69 points in the first half – the most Brooklyn has let up all season – and led by 23.

New Orleans went up 33 in the third quarter, but Caris LeVert lifted the Nets on a 19-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarters, which cut the 33-point deficit down to 14. Then, the Pelicans reinserted their starters and it became a blowout again.

The Pelicans didn’t kill the Nets on the inside as much as expected, rather from deep. They finished the night 17-of-33 from 3-point range.

The difference maker, however, was the defense. Like Indiana and like San Antonio, New Orleans pressed the Nets at the perimeter. This takes away perimeter opportunities but opens the entire paint, which the Nets failed to take abvantage of, with Davis and Cousins camping down low.

Davis finished with a line of 33 points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots, including four 3-pointers, while DeMarcus Cousins finished with 27 points, 14 rebounds and one blocked shot.

The silver lining for Brooklyn? The two Michigan alums: Caris LeVert and Nik Stauskas.

LeVert continued his hot play as backup point, averaging 14 points, five assists on close to 44 percent shooting from deep in December.

He finished the night with 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Stauskas also had a big night, finishing with 21 points in 24 minutes with a career-high seven 3-pointers. Since joining the Nets, Stauskas is 19-of-33 from 3-point range, 57.6 percent.

Quincy Acy played his best game of the year with 18 points with four 3-pointers. The Nets can really use his 3-point shooting to help stretch the floor moving forward. They finished the night 19-of-38 from deep.

Other than Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (15 points), Brooklyn’s started finished with 18 points on 5-of-18 shooting. That won’t get it done in this league.

THE SHOOTIST

If Nik Stauskas make his next two 3-pointers, he'll be shooting 60 percent from deep since joining the Nets. He's shooting 57.6 percent now, and averaging 10.1 points in 14.3 minutes.

THE APPRENTICE

Milton Doyle played 15 minutes Wednesday and scored five points, giving him seven points in 17 minutes over two games. In a pre-game interview with Michael Grady, Doyle said he’s been greeted with open arms by his new teammates, several of whom he played with in summer league.

For a different perspective, head on over to The Bird Writes.

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The Nets will face off against the Miami Heat on Friday.