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Nets finish last ever circus road trip with 105-96 loss in Dallas

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets played eight games in 16 days. They haven’t been in their own bed in over three weeks. They’ve been on nine flights equaling 8,066 miles, 45 bus rides and 15 different hotels.

Safe to say everybody is ready to go back to Brooklyn, but the Nets (11-53) weren’t going down without a fight. Without Brook Lopez, they fought and battled with the Dallas Mavericks (28-36) throughout the night and the 105-96 final score didn’t show for how close the game was ... through three quarters.

However, a 31-23 Dallas advantage in the fourth slammed the door shut.

The Nets trailed by one entering the fourth quarter, but the tight defense from the first half wasn’t sustainable and the putrid offense didn’t get any better. Dallas went on a 13-1 run late in the quarter and extended their lead to 15 with 3:50 remaining. In that span, the Nets went five minutes without a field goal.

With Lopez sitting out with a sprained ankle, the Nets had a hard time getting into any real offensive rhythm on the night. Jeremy Lin and Isaiah Whitehead led the team for most of the way. Lin finished with 18 points in 27 minutes, while Whitehead dropped a career-high 24 points and a career-high three 3-pointers made.

Aside from those two, the Nets struggled and shot just 43.6 percent and 9-of-31 from 3-point. Brooklyn’s bench, who’s second in NBA in scoring, carried the team with 56 points. They average 45.3 per game.

That being said, the defense had to carry most of the load. They held Dallas to a horrid 38 percent shooting in the first half, which paid off early, but they let up in the second half as the Mavs finished with 42.3 percent on the night and 14-off-33 from deep (43 percent).

Dallas limited them to 41 percent shooting in the first half, but the Nets found ways to control the tempo in the early going. They led by three at break after committing just three turnovers behind the facilitation of Lin and the stellar play from the bench.

Question: was it sustainable in the second half?

Answer: No.

Rick Carlisle’s main adjustments at half were pretty evident early. The Nets played extreme small ball with Quincy Acy (6’7”) starting at center, so the Mavericks used picks to switch players into mismatches. It paid off. Dallas scored 28 points in the quarter and went on a 10-0 run late, but the Nets stayed persistent despite the poor shooting.

They trailed by one entering the fourth.

Dirk Nowitzki had just seven points through three quarter. He began to heat up in the fourth quarter with six points in the first two minutes. It led to better offense for Dallas, while the Nets continued to struggle on the offensive end.

Brooklyn scored just seven points in the first six minutes of the fourth. The offense couldn’t buy a bucket and Dallas brought the lead up to 15 following a late 13-1 run, 3:50 left.

Talking about adjustments… Rick Carlisle made sure Jeremy Lin had little room to breathe in the second half. Lin scored just four points in the second half and Dallas took advantage. Off pick and rolls, the big would stick with Lin, while the guard would fight through and come with an aggressive double team.

And thus, the Nets went over five minutes without a field goal.

Trevor Booker had another nice game off the bench with 15 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes. Acy finished with 12 in 22 minutes and shot 2-of-2 from deep. He’s now 22-of-42 from 3-point range as a Net.

For Dallas, Harrison Barnes led the way with 21 points and seven rebounds, while Seth Curry chipped in with 18.

The big story was Whitehead, whose game has been continually improving, kept supplying offense when needed. He finished 8-of-12 overall, 3-of-6 from deep and made all five of his free throws, all in 25 minutes.

Talk about road woes. The Nets finished the last-ever road-trip with a 2-6 record. They’re now 4-29 on the road. They’ve also allowed 100+ points in 42 consecutive road games.

Notes

  • Lopez missed his sixth game of the season due to a sprained ankle. Instead, Quincy Acy started in his place and had the assignment of covering Dirk. As a result, the Nets didn’t have a player above 6’7” in the starting lineup, thus leading to the ultimate small ball.
  • Former Net Yogi Ferrell was on the opposing side this time and had a solid game with 17 points in 33 minutes. Since leaving the Nets, he’s averaged over 12 points per game. Spencer Dinwiddie, who the Nets chose over Ferrell, finished with two points and three assists.
  • Andrew Nicholson, acquired in the Bojan Bogdanovic trade, saw his first significant action. Although he looked rusty, the 6’9” Nicholson scored three points on 1-of-4 shooting and grabbed five rebounds in 12 minutes.
  • Then, there was this moment when a Chinese couple got to meet their hero.

Farewell, Circus Road-Trip

Tonight was the final game of the infamous Circus Road-Trip. The Nets have been going on these road-trips since they first moved to Brooklyn, but since Ringling Brothers shows are coming to an end, the yearly trip will no longer burden the team. This year, they played eight games in a 16-day span.

* Tips hat *

Next up: Sunday at HOME (!) vs. the Knicks