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Nets return with a loss to the Trail Blazers, 113-99

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Portland Trail Blazers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — It felt great to be back, but it was a bittersweet day for the guys in black and Coogi.

It was a typical Nets story. They went down by as many as 15 in the third quarter behind a monster quarter from Jusuf Nurkic and Enes Kanter. But then, behind the former Trail Blazers — Ed Davis, Allen Crabbe and Shabazz Napier — they answered with 12-0 run and cut the deficit down to one with 7:25 left in the game. It was a 17-6 extended run for Brooklyn, 15 scored by the trio.

The sold-out Brooklyn crowd were on its feet chanting, “Broooklynnn” as the three former Blazers led them on the run.

But Portland’s gameplan was simple: Go to Nurkic.

The Trail Blazers started pulling away when Nurkic slammed one home in Jarrett Allen’s face, plus the foul. On the ensuing possession, C.J. McCollum nailed the dagger three-pointer to cap off a 9-2 run and 110-97 lead.

Final: Trail Blazers 113, Nets 99.

“It’s hard to beat a team when you give up that many offensive rebounds... They outworked us tonight,” said Allen Crabbe.

The Nets have lost seven of the last 10 games dating back to January 28 against the Celtics. They’re also 4-7 since Spencer Dinwiddie’s absence. They’ll remain the six seed for the night with a 30-30 record and crucial game against the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday. This was the first game in a stretch where they’ll play seven of 10 at home before heading out for a seven-game West Coast road-trip.

“We didn’t have great rhythm tonight, didn’t play well,” said Kenny Atkinson afterwards. “I think that’s across the board – didn’t coach well, didn’t play well. It’s just one of those games where Portland was simply the better team. There’s just no way around it. I thought in all facets they played really well.”

Nurkic finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds on 10-of-15 shooting. Kanter finished with 18 points and nine rebounds on 8-of-9 shooting. It was a night in which Damian Lillard finished 5-of-21 from the floor and the Nets still couldn’t capitalize.

Instead, Portland took advantage of Brooklyn’s frail frontcourt and scored 66 points inside the paint with 11 more rebounds — 19 coming off the offensive glass.

“I think rebounding, I think physicality. I think they were the more physical team. I see 19 offensive rebounds. We couldn’t corral,” said Atkinson. corral. I think we did a decent job on (Damian) Lillard and (CJ) McCollum, just a tough time rebounding tonight. I said pregame that’s one of the things we’re focused on, so I’m disappointed there was no carryover from the emphasis at the All-Star break.”

The Nets struggled all night. They shot just 39 percent from the field and hit seven three-pointers on 36 attempts. That’s 19 percent. D’Angelo Russell finished with 14 points and eight assist, but shot a poor 4-of-16 from the floor. Backup Shabazz Napier dished out 10 assists, but shot 2-of-11.

Nobody else handled the scoring load — or defensive load for that matter.

Allen Crabbe was solid with 17 points, along with Ed Davis who finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds in 23 minutes.

Meanwhile, Rodions Kurucs was a DNP-CD.

Why?

“Keeping the rotation, keeping a 10 and I said it’s going to be game to game,” said Atkinson. “We’re going to have to figure this out by committee. There’s tough decisions to be made. Game to game it’s going to be that way and obviously tonight we didn’t find the right lineup or lineups, but again I do think collectively we didn’t play great.”

There are no more excuses. They got the rest they needed and they’re a playoff team. You can argue that the Trail Blazers are a better team, but that shouldn’t matter when you’re competing for a playoff spot.

But as the Nets players always say on social media: On to the next one.

Post-game audio here.

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PLAYOFF RACE

It would’ve been awfully hard for the Nets to lose or gain ground in the standings during All-Star Weekend. They entered Thursday two games ahead of the seven and eight seeds and 2 12 ahead of the ninth seed.

And don’t look now, but the Magic are inching up. They didn’t play Thursday, but have won five straight.

CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF IAN EAGLE

“OH IT’S A MAN’S JAM!”

What would it be like watching Nets games without Ian Eagle?

He has simply spoiled Nets fans and outside viewers with his knowledge for the game and excellent play-by-play calls. He has been and IS the voice of the Brooklyn Nets. On a personal level, Ian is as genuine as it gets. The whole, “Good worker, even better person” line would be an understatement.

On Thursday, The Brooklyn Nets and YES Network celebrated 25 years of the legendary Ian Eagle calling New Jersey and Brooklyn Nets games. He recently turned 50-years-old, which means Ian has dedicated half his life to calling games for this team.

There were cupcakes, pictures and even ties...

They honored him with some of his best moments on the Jumbotron, and gave him a No. 25 jersey.

The video moments, Emmy’s, etc. simply do not signify the type of person he is and the impact he’s had on us as we watched Nets games over the past 25 years.

He deserved this moment.

JARED DUDLEY RETURNS

After missing 16 games to a hamstring strain, Jared Dudley returned to action Thursday, playing eight minutes but not scoring. With Dudley’s return, the Nets are the healthiest they’ve been all season. The only player on the injury list is Spencer Dinwiddie who’s missed 11 games and has no timetable for a return. Dzanan Musa remains on assignment with Long Island.

DWYANE WADE AND D’ANGELO RUSSELL

The Brooklyn Nets showed a sneak peak of the newest episode of “The Bridge” and in theng video, they show Dwyane Wade and D’Angelo Russell walking and talking together. Wade tells Russell, “You know you’re one of the best in the game, right?”

Russell explains how the All-Star nomination made him realize it a little bit more and Wade replies with, “Whatever you did to get here... Do more.”

More here:

For a different perspective, turn to Blazers’ Edge, our sister site on SB Nation.

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The Nets will face the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday at 7:00 p.m.