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The ship is sinking: Cavs hand the Nets their 7th straight loss, 99-97

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Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — If you’re an ailing team, then Brooklyn might be good stop for you.

The last-place Cleveland Cavaliers (5-18) defeated the Nets (8-17), 99-97, Monday night at Barclays Center. The Nets have lost seven straight, 11 of the last 13 and they’re 2-9 since Caris LeVert’s injury. The ship is indeed sinking very fast.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, it did.

There was some good news: Rodions Kurucs scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds in 14 minutes and brought energy to the Nets comeback, scoring the game-tying basket late in the fourth. After the game, Kenny Atkinson said Kurucs is in the conversation for a rotation spot.

The Nets looked lethargic on both sides of the ball and there were no excuses this time. It wasn’t the second night of a back-to-back and it wasn’t a tough team they played. They put themselves in a hole and couldn’t make stops when they needed them most.

“We were outplayed for most of the game,” said Atkinson afterwards.

Indeed. they brought it within two early in the fourth, but the Cavaliers went on a 11-2 run and took an 11-point lead. Spencer Dinwiddie capped off a 13-4 Brooklyn run and trimmed the deficit down to two with less than two minutes remaining.

As the Nets looked for that big bucket with the shot clock turned off, D’Angelo Russell air-balled a three, but Kurucs grabbed the offensive board and put it back. Game tied.

But then, newly acquired Alec Burks got the matchup against Crabbe, took it right to the hole off a Rodney Hood screen and dunked it to put Cleveland up two with 3.2 seconds left. Crabbe was late to fight through and nobody switched.

The Nets had a hard time getting the ball in and Dinwiddie air balled an ill-advised fadeaway shot from the corner. No one was there to rebound this one. Game over.

“Listen, I think they were the better team and they deserved the win. We made a valiant comeback. Rodions was a main part of that, so we’ll take that positive,” said Atkinson after the game.

Dinwiddie finished with 18 points and four assists. Russell finished with 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists but took 31 shots in 33 minutes. Kurucs performance begged the question: Why is he still playing for Long Island?

“He’s in the conversation, you can’t deny it,” Atkinson said of Kurucs’ moving into the rotation. “We’ll have to consider getting him minutes. Minutes are out there, and guys have to compete for minutes, but he’s definitely earning some playing time.”

Kurucs spent most of the post-game wearing a smile.

“It felt great, actually, because that was a dream for a little kid who comes from Latvia, from a little town. It would be cool to win, I would enjoy it more, but it felt great,” said Kurucs.”

Meanwhile, Allen Crabbe had another brutal night with five points on 1-of-7 shooting. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson wasn’t much better with four points on 1-of-7 shooting and was replaced by Kurucs. DeMarre Carroll also shot 1-of-7 off the bench.

The Nets took 40 threes and hit 10. The Cavaliers only took 15 and were led by Jordan Clarkson with 20 points off the bench.

Get well soon, Caris. You, too, Joe Harris. He didn’t play for the third straight game.

CATCHING UP WITH (AND HAPPY FOR) BROOK LOPEZ

I was in the building for Knicks-Bucks the other day and caught up with our old friend, Brook Lopez. In a candid conversation, he discussed how it’s refreshing to be in a place like Milwaukee after stints in Brooklyn then Los Angeles. Happy to finally be on a winning team, too.

He also said he still follows the team and mentioned how great Caris LeVert was playing before the injury.

On whether Kenny Atkinson had a big impact on his new three point shooting prowess...

“I’m not sure. I mean, maybe with the way the league is trending, but Kenny was really the only person to encourage me to start taking them.”

DUDLEY RESPONDS TO FARIED’S IG LIKES

A unique situation developed — well unique for the Nets — over the weekend. As Bryan Fonseca reported, Kenneth Faried liked a bunch of comments on his lack of playing time. He liked one in particular that Jared Dudley is a “bum” and Faried should take his minutes.

Now, if you follow the team you’ll know EVERYTHING stays in-house. Social media is a big no-no around this new regime. Faried didn’t necessarily say anything, but liking a comment is pretty telling... especially these.

How did Dudley diffuse the situation?

Good on him for not escalating the situation. Otherwise? This will probably be forgotten by tomorrow. On the other hand, Faried did not play in Monday’s game. In fact, he was the only non-rookie to get a DNP-CD (did not play, coach’s decision). He has a team-high 17 of those this season.

TRACKING LONG ISLAND...

The Long Island Nets are playing some solid ball to start the season. They recently lost to Lakeland Magic, but they have an impressive 7-3 record through 10 games and a lot of their young prospects are thriving in Will Weaver’s system.

Here were some of the numbers from their loss on Sunday:

  • Jordan McLaughlin: 25 points, five assists and three steals.
  • Mitch Creek scored 24 points, shooting 10-of-15 from the floor
  • Dzanan Musa: 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
  • Theo Pinson: Season-high nine assists to go with 19 points and seven rebounds.

The Nets play Tuesday morning in Long Island. 11 a.m. start.

There was a rumor that Creek was going to sign with an expansion team in Australia’s National Basketball League. But Creek dismissed the idea —at least for now— and noted he’ll play Tuesday.

DINWIDDIE’S KICKS

For a different perspective, head on over to Fear the Sword, our Cavaliers sister site on SB Nation

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The Nets will face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday at 7:30pm. The game will also mark the debut YES Network’s three-person booth: Ian Eagle, Sarah Kustok and Richard Jefferson.