If the duration of NBA games was only 24 minutes, then the Brooklyn Nets would be in great shape. Unfortunately that isn’t the case, and Brooklyn’s four-game win streak came to a halt following a 108-96 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Nets (36-34) began the seven-game road-trip with a game against the 42-26 Thunder — the first of six teams on this trip with a .500 record or better.
Brooklyn couldn’t have asked for a better start. They contained the Thunder to a season-low 42 points at half on 30 percent shooting, owning the 50/50 battles and simply out-playing OKC on both ends.
Russell Westbrook and Paul George dominated, but the rest of the OKC players were just 5-of-21 from the field. However, the Nets failed to close out the first half on a positive note. Closing out quarters has been a problem for the Nets all season and the Thunder capitalized on it.
OKC scored four points in the final 10 seconds as the crowd was on its feet, momentum back in their corner. They carried that momentum over into the second half and out-scored the Nets 38-26 in the third and 66-44 in the second half.
The Nets once led by 17, but a 9-0 run brought OKC within four just minutes into the third.
They started taking over every facet of the game. They doubled D’Angelo Russell and forced him to pass it up or take a bad shot. They swarmed Brooklyn completely and forced seven turnovers. They adjusted and attacked the paint at will, which turned out to be the difference maker.
Oklahoma City went on a 14-0 run and took a 15-point lead with a little over four minutes remaining. “It’s slipping away,” Ryan Ruocco said on the YES broadcast. OKC faithful were on its feet and the Nets had no fight left.
And that was it.
Westbrook was unstoppable as per usual and finished with a triple double — 31 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. Next to him was MVP candidate Paul George, who finished with 25 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots.
Jerami Grant and Steven Adams handled Brooklyn’s front court on both ends, holding Jarrett Allen and Rodions Kurucs to eight points and five rebounds each. They also combined to grab eight offensive rebounds on the night, half of OKC’s total for the night.
The Nets shot 41.7 percent and were led by Spencer Dinwiddie (25 points, five rebounds). Other than him, the Nets struggled to find any rhythm. They turned the ball over 16 times, while D’Angelo Russell was just 6-of-18 from the field.
And so, the 7-game, 16-day road-trip has begun. The Nets have given themselves some breathing room, but they need to weather the storm. Win games and they’ll be battle tested for the playoffs.
Wednesday wasn’t the best start.
It didn’t change much because both the Pistons lost to the Heat and the Magic lost to the Wizards. Here’s how it looked going in...
Tonight, the Nets begin their 7-game “Rodio” trip. Need to weather the storm... Play well and they’ll be battle-tested for the playoffs.— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) March 13, 2019
• 1/2 game up on Detroit (own the tiebreaker)
• 3.5 games ahead of 8-seed Heat
• 4.5 games ahead of 9-seed Magic pic.twitter.com/go67hUYi8x
Rooting guide for Nets fans:— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) March 13, 2019
• Wizards-Magic: Wizards
• Heat-Pistons: Pick your poison. Heat win would give a little breathing room
CHARLES OAKLEY ENDORSES NETS... NOT KNICKS
Following an incident in which Knicks owner James Dolan banned a fan for telling him to sell the team, former Knicks’ legend Charles Oakley spoke out on Dolan and the Knicks. Here’s what he told Frank Isola of The Athletic.
“If you want to be in New York, look at the Nets. Sean Marks has done a great job. The Nets have better pieces. You get Kyrie and K.D. or Kyrie and Kawhi and you have something. They have nothing bad going on with them. If Kyrie and K.D. come to the Knicks, it wouldn’t be enough. The Nets are winning. They’re not blowing teams out but they’re competing. The ball moves. You come to the Knicks … it won’t be easy.”
“The fans deserve better, but there are too many distractions in New York. And it starts with the owner.”
“This man told the security guards to throw me out for no reason,” Oakley said. “I was banned twice in eight months. If I’m such a bad guy, why do they let me into Nets games? Chicago offered me a job. I go to games in Chicago and Toronto. Look at what happened to me and the other fans in New York. It keeps happening yet there is no punishment.”
DAWN AND JOHNSON TAKE THE ROAD!
Dawn Risueno and Johnson are two of the biggest Nets fans in the world. They’re at every game — both Brooklyn and Long Island — and continue to show their die-hard fanhood for the guys in black and white.
“We love supporting our guys away from home and I think the guys like seeing home (fans) on the road too,” Dawn told NetsDaily. “Plus we get to see this beautiful country of ours.”
Dawn says she anticipated over 8,000 miles of driving just following the Nets. Here’s a shout out to them...
BANG!.... FROM AUSTRALIA
For a different perspective, head on over to Loud City, our Thunder sister site on SB Nation.
Next up on the trip: Utah on Saturday, 9 p.m. ET.
- Box Score: Oklahoma City Thunder 108, Brooklyn Nets 96 - NBA.com
- Video: Oklahoma City Thunder 108, Brooklyn Nets 96 - NBA.com
- Nets unable to overcome OKC (Video) - Ryan Ruocco & Sarah Kustok - YES Network
- Atkinson on loss to the Thunder (Video) - YES Network
- Dinwiddie on OKC’s tough defense (Video) - YES Network
- Wear Brooklyn at? - YES Network
- Westbrook’s triple-double leads Thunder past Nets - Cliff Brunt - AP
- Second-half surge lifts Thunder past Nets - Reuters
- Russell Westbrook dominates as Nets fade away in second half - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- ‘Blessed’ Russell Westbrook keeps talk to game, not banned Jazz fan - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- OKC’s Donovan discusses Westbrook’s fan incident - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Nets start strong but can’t hold off Westbrook - Greg Logan - Newsday
- THUNDER 108, NETS 96: BROOKLYN DROPS ROAD TRIP OPENER IN OKLAHOMA CITY - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- GALLERY: NETS VS. THUNDER - Brooklyn Nets
- NETS VS. THUNDER: D’ANGELO RUSSELL, SPENCER DINWIDDIE, AND KENNY ATKINSON TOP QUOTES - Brooklyn Nets
- Russell Westbrook’s triple-double leads Thunder past Nets - Erik Horne - The Oklahoman