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Nets 4-game win streak snapped in Summer League semi-final loss

NBA: Summer League-Brooklyn Nets at Detroit Pistons Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets summer league story came to an end on Sunday night in Las Vegas as Brooklyn lost to Minnesota, 85-77, but the Nets appear to avoid a worse fate. Jarrett Allen fell hard on his back in the third quarter, but after a quick trip to the locker room, returned to the bench smiling. Diagnosis: a left hip contusion.

Led by former Nets assistant coach Pablo Prigioni and two former Long Island Nets, Mitch Creek and Jordan McLaughlin, the Timberwolves used a 24-11 third quarter blitz to win a berth in the championship game. New Jersey native Naz Reid impressed as well, chipping in 20 points and 6 rebounds in the Minnesota win.

The play from the Nets big men was perhaps the only positive for Brooklyn in the loss.

Before he went down, Allen dominated all aspects of the game, putting his new and stronger frame to good use. He was wrecking havoc on the offensive glass and finishing with one ferocious slam after another. Allen had 15 points, 14 rebounds, and two blocks in just 21 minutes before leaving the game.

The injury came when Allen skied high for an offensive rebound and awkwardly fell to the floor, landing hard on what appeared to be tailbone. He made his way off the floor and into the locker room under his own power. The injury didn’t look too serious as Allen later returned to the bench and looked to be in good spirits with his teammates. With the game out of reach, the Nets took the cautious route.

Similarly, the Nets kept Nic Claxton on the bench Sunday, just as they did Saturday. Brian Lewis reports, Claxton has been out with left hamstring tightness.

Allen, in an interview with James Herbert of CBS Sports prior to the semi-finals, says he’s been asked “more times that I can count” about why he, as a third year player, is still playing in the Summer League. Part of it is just getting more reps in game situations and part of it is about helping the younger players.

“I feel like I had a pretty good season last year,” Allen said. “I have a lot to show ‘em. I have a lot of knowledge in my mind that I can share with them.”

Amida Brimah, the former UConn center, again had a strong showing. After Allen left with the injury, Brimah took advantage of the extra playing time, contributing 12 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks in only 19 minutes. His activity and hustle could land him a spot on an NBA roster.

Outside of Allen and Brimah, the Nets didn’t get much else from the others. Dzanan Musa, Rodions Kurucs, Theo Pinson, and Isaiah Cordinier combined for just 22 points on an atrocious 7-of-40 (18 percent) shooting.

The Timberwolves will face the Grizzlies in the Summer League Finals Monday.

The Nets finished summer league with a 4-2 record and have plenty of positives to take away from the experience. Allen, especially the final two games, found the level of aggression that he’ll need if he’s going to be the All-Star caliber center that many in the organization believe he can be. Both Musa and Kurucs’ bodies look to have filled out some and Nic Claxton displayed the versatility, motor, and athleticism that could make him an integral part of Brooklyn’s core moving forward.

The Nets also got strong performances from Brimah and Cordinier as well as Josh Gray.

Now, a long summer of optimism and excitement awaits as the Nets are poised to field their best team of the Brooklyn era. The Nets will open preseason on October 4th as they’ll host Brazil’s Basquete Franca at Barclays Center before flying to China for a pair of exhibition games against the Lakers. For fans and players alike, October can’t come soon enough.