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Same script, different day: Nets squander double digit lead, lose to Denver, 101-93

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Brooklyn Nets v Denver Nuggets Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Another game, another second half disappointment.

The lights were bright, the altitude was high, the pressure a little higher than normal with a West Coast prime time slot on TNT.

This is new for the *young* Nets.

But the script wasn’t.

The Nets had a near picture perfect first half. The ball was moving, the energy was high on defense, role players stepped up and Kyrie Irving was at the forefront of a fine-tuned offense. Dzanan Musa hit his first two three-pointers of the night and Jarrett Allen was excellent around the rim with nine points.

They led by 12 at half — 16 with 10:06 left in the third. Instead of building on the lead, they did the opposite. And once again, a double digit lead wasn’t secured.

The Nuggets exploded for 31 points in the third quarter and knotted this thing up at 79 apiece entering the fourth. Brooklyn’s ball movement was gone. Their defensive prowess was unsustainable, and they became selfish with the ball late in the game.

It felt like Tuesday all over again.

Jerami Grant nailed the go-ahead three-pointer with 9:31 left in the game, Denver’s first lead since 22-21 in the first quarter. They never looked back.

The Nets didn’t score a single point in the final 3:31 of the game. They missed their final 19 three-point attempts on the night, finishing 8-of-38 in that area. Joe Harris, only took four of those 38 attempts. He’s shooting 49 percent from three this year. And, to cap things off, Irving missed four of his final five shots on the night.

They scored 14 points in the fourth quarter — outscored 51-32 in the second half.

The Nets dropped to 4-7 and saw life without Caris LeVert, who will miss the next 4-6 weeks following surgery on his right thumb. Denver improved the 8-3 and won this game behind a balanced attack of seven players in double figures.

You can only say it’s this early in the season so many times. Yes, it’s early, Yes, they’re a new team dealing with injuries and suspensions. Regardless, the Nets have let far too many games slip out of their hands in scripts that read awfully familiar.

Expectations are higher. Kevin Durant isn’t walking through that door anytime soon. Nor is Caris LeVert. They play good basketball for portions of the game, not consistently — and this is a problem they’ve had with past teams. They ought to figure it out — from the coaching staff down to the players.

Comparing to Utah:

  • At Utah: The Nets led by 18 in the second quarter, 14 at half.
  • At Denver: The Nets led by 16 in the second and third quarters, 12 at half.

  • At Utah: The Nets gave up the 14-point halftime lead in less than nine minutes
  • At Denver: The Nets gave up the 12-point lead in 14.5 minutes.

  • At Utah: Kyrie Irving missed his last eight shots.
  • At Denver: Kyrie Irving missed four of his final five shots.

  • At Utah: Joe Harris took one shot in the final five minutes.
  • At Denver: Joe Harris took one shot in the final five minutes.

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ENTERING THURSDAY (NETS PR)

  • Kyrie Irving is averaging 29.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 7.0 apg in 33.7 mpg, joining Luka Doncic and James Harden as the only players averaging 25.0+ ppg, 5.0+ rpg and 7.0+ apg.
  • The Nets have out-rebounded opponents in eight out of 10 games this season, with the third-best rebound margin (+49).
  • INSIDE/OUT: The Nets were second in the league for drive per game with 56.1, while Denver ranked second-to-last with 34.2 The Nets are second in the NBA for points in the paint.

IMAN SHUMPERT JOINS NETS

In light of the Caris LeVert news, the Brooklyn Nets signed Iman Shumpert and flew him out for Thursday’s game against the Nuggets. Shumpert, 29, has close ties with Kyrie Irving, who he won an NBA title with back with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016. He is also familiar with head coach Kenny Atkinson, who was an assistant coach for the Knicks back when Shump played for the Knicks.

Shumpert will wear No. 10.

***

Next up: Chicago Bulls on Saturday, 6 PM ET. The final game of the five-game road-trip.

Want more? Listen to Pooch’s analysis on the latest edition of State of the Nets here.