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Nets gear up for a shootout vs Rockets

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Oklahoma City Thunder v Houston Rockets Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

Eek. On a night where Pacers star Myles Turner left early due to an ankle injury, the Brooklyn Nets were unable to take full advantage and suffered an ugly, ten point loss at home Wednesday night. They won’t have time to ruminate on this one for too long as they’re hitting the road for their first back-to-back set of the season tomorrow night in Detroit.

The opponent Friday will be the Houston Rockets. Mike D’Antoni’s team is looking a lot different these days, but they still have the main goal of getting to the NBA Finals. They started off their four game road trip with a wild, one-point win against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night. After this, they go to Miami and Memphis (on a back-to-back) before heading back to H-Town.

Where to follow the game

YES Network and ESPN on TV. WFAN 101. FM on radio. Tip off after 7 PM. It’s the Nets first of 20 national TV games.

And a fashion note: the Nets will debut their new graffiti uniforms on their new grey court.

Injuries

Kevin Durant confirmed what we all pretty much knew when he said he doesn’t plan on playing this year. No Wilson Chandler either. He’s suspended for 25 games. This is the fifth game of the suspension. After Friday, the Nets will be able to sign a replacement player.

The game

Who wants some more international politics talk?! Nobody? Well alright. As I’m sure you know, Rockets GM Daryl Morey stirred up a hornet’s nest last month with his tweet expressing support for protesters in Hong Kong. Morey faced a wave of criticism for that tweet, including a particularly harsh statement from Nets owner Joe Tsai. Morey is back in public, but not talking about that issue anymore. We haven’t heard from Tsai in a while. Assuming both parties are at the game, I’m almost certain someone is going to ask —or try— about that whole kerfuffle. It’ll be fun.

In other “shit-that-got-Daryl-Morey-yelled-at” news, he got roasted over the summer for the following:

“Based on literally, like you give James Harden the ball and before you’re giving up the ball how many points do you generate? Which is how you should measure offense. James Harden is by far No. 1 in NBA history.

“The counterargument is reasonable. They say if you put Michael Jordan on a team now he would do more than James Harden. That’s possible. But if you’re just saying: ‘NBA history, if you give this guy the ball, how much does his team score after you give him the ball before the other team gets the ball?’ It’s James Harden. And I know that makes people mad, but it’s literally a fact.”

To be fair, Harden is REALLY good. He can score on all three levels, lives at the free throw line, and creates so much space for other players to get good looks. The Nets will throw a bushel of defenders at Harden, starting with Taurean Prince. Caris Levert will also get some time against the former MVP, although the Nets are hoping beyond hope he doesn’t get saddled with foul trouble.

These turnovers, man. Amazingly, the Nets don’t lead the league in turnovers, but they’re definitely in the bottom third. They’ve lost the turnover battle in each of their losses and tied it (with 26) in their win. When you combine that with their suspect defense, this has the potential to get incredibly ugly in a hurry. Kenny Atkinson has talked about the Nets offense lacking an identity right now, but the team hopes they can get things sorted out as the season progresses.

Player to watch: Russell Westbrook

Life is funny sometimes. Rockets fans have had beef with Westbrook for years and roasted him every time the Thunder lost in the first round. And then the Rockets traded for him. Since joining the Rockets, Westbrook has been fantastic. One interesting thing to note with Russ is the amount of shots he’s taken inside of three feet. Per Basketball-Reference, close to 41 percent of his shots has come within three feet of the rim. And to make it better, he’s made 81 percent of those shots. If Westbrook can avoid taking too many threes, he’ll be picture perfect with Houston. Might even become a fan favorite, too.

One more point re Kyrie Irving. He spoke to the media after Wednesday’s game and addressed the “mood swings” he reportedly experiences, among other things:

Or, simply put:

On the court, he’s been on a scoring rampage. This current stretch is the most he’s ever scored in a four-game span in his career. When Kyrie is on the court, the Nets look incredibly dangerous, especially on offense. When he’s off the court, it’s ROUGH out there.

Meanwhile, Richard Jefferson let it be known where he stands. It’s a good antidote to all the over-analysis...

RJ also said when Irving comes out of the game, the Nets don’t have a traditional back-up point guard and that Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert are playing out of position.

From the Vault

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