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Oh Buck! Nets lose third straight following loss to Milwaukee, 113-94

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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Buck that!

It was one of the more lopsided losses of the year for the Nets (28-27), who fell to the East’s No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks (39-13), 113-94, Monday night at Barclays Center. It also was their third straight loss and fourth in the last five games. They’re also 2-4 since Spencer Dinwiddie was deemed out with torn ligaments in his right thumb.

“It just seemed like everything that we did, they had a plan for it. They just played their butts off defensively,” said Jarrett Allen after the game.

It was another dark cloud to add to the perfect storm of injuries that has plagued Brooklyn’s hot play. Somehow, they’ll have to weather said storm without him. And Caris LeVert. And Allen Crabbe. And Jared Dudley. And at least for the night, Joe Harris.

“A lot. A lot. A lot,” D’Angelo Russell answered when he was asked how much it would help to get some of the injured players back. “It’s forcing Coach to really go deep in the bench, but you get that caliber of guys back and you’re at another level, so sooner the better.”

And with that being said, there was still a game to be played and Kenny Atkinson offered zero excuses. “We pay 17 guys,” he said pre-game.

Sure, but those 17 guys didn’t get it done against the East’s best.

This was one of those games in the first half where the Nets couldn’t hit a shot, turned the ball over, couldn’t defend no matter what type of defense they played and yet — they still hung around, sorta...

Then, came the Bucks in the third. Brook Lopez nailed a three-pointer to put Milwaukee up 16. Later, Giannis Antetokounmpo Euro-stepped his way past Jarrett Allen among other Nets to take an 18-point lead.

They out-scored the Nets 36-22 and led 85-62 entering the fourth. Brooklyn made a mini run and cut the deficit to 15, but they never got it closer than that.

Missing it’s best dribble perpetrator and three-point shooter, not to mention a lanky Bucks defense, the Nets were in for a long, long night from the perimeter. They hit their first three after 12 straight misses the a few minutes into the second quarter. They finished the night 5-of-42 (12 percent).

“Sure we can move it better, but it’s tough when you’re not making shots. When we are driving it into a crowd, we have to keep the defense honest from the perimeter,” said Atkinson after the loss.

The one thing that kept the Nets somewhat close in the first half was the free throw shooting where they finished 23-of-28 on the night.

D’Angelo Russell led the team with 18 points on a disappointing 7-of-20 shooting. After him was Shabazz Napier, who finished with 15 points on 4-of-15 shooting and 0-of-10 from three. Almost half his points came from the free throw line. Jarrett Allen was solid with eight points and 11 rebounds. Meanwhile, Ed Davis only logged seven minutes. That’s never a good sign.

As a unit, they shot a putrid 32 percent from the field. That’s all you need to know.

But why? Well, there were several reasons. Bad shot selection and good defense from Milwaukee, but there’s also a level of concern with guys getting time (perhaps too much) in situations they aren’t used to.

Take Shabazz Napier. He started the night because Atkinson had no other choice. It’s awfully hard for him to fill the shoes of Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie, two integral pieces on this team. Shabazz is great at what his role was: Being a spark off the bench.

Not being a lead back-up or even starter on this team.

Furthermore, the Bucks weren’t even covering Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who has been seeing extra time with Jared Dudley out. Milwaukee sagged off and let him basically take whatever he wanted while clogging the paint.

“It’s tough to go 5-for-42 from three,” said Atkinson. “We have to figure out how to make the defense pay for crowding the paint,” said Atkinson after the loss.

Make what you’d like of it, but Rondae knows he’s in a contract year on a team he isn’t exactly a fit with (on offense). It’s awfully hard to make it on this team if you don’t hit your jump shots.

By no means is this on one or two guys, but these are just a couple of things the Nets have to try and get by with until players get healthy. They’re forcing themselves to try and fit in rather than just letting the game come to them.

And here we are. Nobody’s panicking by any means, but they haven’t been playing good basketball by any means.

Get well soon, Spencer, Caris, Jared, Allen and Joe.

Post-game audio here.

DEPLETED NETS

The Nets entered Monday having lost three of the last four, clearly struggling with all the injuries they’ve dealt with — Spencer Dinwiddie being the latest. Here was the injury report for the game:

  • Joe Harris (right hip soreness) - OUT
  • Allen Crabbe (sore right knee) - OUT
  • Spencer Dinwiddie (torn ligaments, right thumb) - OUT
  • Jared Dudley (left hamstring strain) - OUT
  • Caris LeVert (right foot) - OUT

“Just Spencer’s defen—not defense, Spencer don’t play no defense (laughs). Nah, just Spencer driving to the rim, Spencer being able to create space. Just him all around,” Jarrett Allen said when he was asked about what the Nets miss the most with Dinwiddie out.

... BUT WILL CARIS BE BACK SOON?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Monday that Caris LeVert will begin five-on-five and might return before the All-Star break.

It’s been almost three months since LeVert suffered the injury. After tonight, the Nets have 4 games left until the All-Star Break. It feels like a miracle that he’ll be back after the gruesome injury, nonetheless before the All-Star Break.

With that being said, don’t expect him to get 20+ minutes until after the break. He needs to be integrated back into the lineup, feel comfortable with cuts, contact etc. But good — actually GREAT news.

Read more from three months back.

PLAYOFF RACE

Brooklyn’s recent skid put them in a somewhat vulnerable position. And it isn’t looking up with all the injuries. They have a 4 12 game advantage over the nine-seed Pistons, but the seven-seed Hornets have cut it down to one game.

Games to keep an eye on: Pistons-Nuggets (pick watch, too!), Wizards-Hawks.

MITCH CREEK SIGNS ANOTHER 10-DAY

The Brooklyn Nets announced that Mitch Creek has signed a second 10-day contract. In his first 10-day contract, Creek only played more than two minutes in one game and it was against the Celtics. He finished with 6 points, five rebounds, one assist and one steal. In Monday’s game, he finished with eight points and five rebounds.

Good for him to get another chance while the Nets are depleted.

Now, of course, this is an interesting week to fill the final roster spot with the trade deadline Thursday. IF they need a spot, Nets can get off of the 10 day contract at any point. So, this will not get in the way.

TWO LOSSES IN ONE DAY

Creek, Alan Williams and Dzanan Musa all got minutes in garbage time in the NBA Monday night after playing in a G League game Monday morning. Both games were losses.

Creek played 30 minutes for Long Island, 15 for Brooklyn. Williams played 25 minutes for Long Island, six for Brooklyn and Musa, 28 and eight. Musa put up a total of 30 points, 26 in the morning, four at night.

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For a different perspective, head on over to Brew Hoop, our Bucks sister site on SB Nation.

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Does it get easier? No! The Nets will face the 37-16 Denver Nuggets at home on Wednesday, the second game of a three-game home stand.