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Spurs in Brooklyn for ‘Dr. J’ Bobble Head Night

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San Antonio Spurs v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images

If there’s a way to forget Wednesday’s loss, let it be so. One night after Caris LeVert led the Nets to an improbable road win in Boston, the surging Grizzles destroyed the Nets. The 39-point deficit was the worst of the Brooklyn era. Okay, let’s move on. Yes, let’s do!

Tonight’s opponent is the San Antonio Spurs, a big deal for a lot of the coaches and staff on Nets directory. Around 10 of them have Spurs lineage, starting of course with GM Sean Marks who won rings with San Antonio as both a player and an assistant coach.

And of course, it’s once again Bobble Head Night in Brooklyn, this time honoring Dr. J —Julius Erving— with a Black Panther theme. You’ll have to be among first 10,000 fans to get one. The Doctor himself will be on hand for his first visit to Brooklyn. He hasn’t officially joined the Nets but watch this space.

Where to follow the game

The Nets will be back on YES. You can also listen to the game at WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30 PM.

Injuries

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are out. Garrett Temple (ankle) is doubtful. Nicolas Claxton, Dzanan Musa and Jeremiah Martin are all with Long Island.

Marco Belinelli (illness) won’t play for the Spurs. And in a late scratch, neither will LaMarcus Aldridge (shoulder). Moreover, Aldridge’s back-up Jakob Poelti (knee) is also out. San Antonio will be forced to go small and will be without the biggest 3-point threat.

The game

In the Spurs’ 118-105 comeback victory over the Brooklyn Nets in game one on December 19, Patty Mills led the team with a team-high 27 points and tied his career-best 7 three-pointers as the bench dropped 63 points.

For the Nets, the game was notable for two reasons: Spencer Dinwiddie had the best game of his career, scoring 41 points and the Nets lost David Nwaba for the season with an Achilles rupture.

The Spurs are trying for a record 23rd straight seasons in the NBA playoffs, but as now, it’s looking unlikely. They are four games back of eighth place Memphis, three in the loss column, with 22 games to go.

San Antonio has been off since Tuesday night when they outlasted the Hornets in Charlotte, 104-103.

Charlotte scored 36 points in the opening frame and led by as many as 17 when the Spurs started to gain momentum, knocking down 6-of-12 threes with 10 assists and four steals in the second quarter alone. San Antonio went up by four, 104-100, with 1:28 remaining when Hornets Terry Rozier made the final layup to bring the game within one point. Dejounte Murry scored a game-high 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting and matched his career-high 3 three-pointers, along with 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals. In a complete team effort, six players scored in double figures.

Sounds like Spurs basketball to us!

For the Nets, it’s an opportunity to put their putrid performance Wednesday behind them. It’s not often boos rain down on the Barclays Center floor. New York fans know when you’re not giving your all and the Nets simply didn’t.

One positive (maybe the only one) for the Nets was how they were the preferred New York game on Wednesday in terms of attendance. Around 50,000 fans attended basketball games at the area’s three big arenas and the Nets attracted the biggest share to Barclays Center.

Player to Watch: Dejounte Murray

Back on Draft Night in 2016, the Spurs had their eyes on a couple of players, one of them Caris LeVert, the other Dejounte Murray. Both were mocked in the second round. Sean Marks who the Nets had hired away from the Spurs in February, swooped in and took LeVert after trading Thaddeus Young to Indiana. The Spurs settled for Murray.

“Settled,” of course, is a bad way of describing their choice. The 6’4” point guard from Washington is having a very good year and getting better. He’s averaging 10.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists and shooting 39.3 percent from three.

Here’s how Tanner Bowen of Pouding The Rock, our SB Nation sister site on SB Nation described his recent play ... and what it means.

It’s safe to say that since the Rodeo Road Trip, Dejounte Murray has turned some sort of corner. Since the game right before All Star break, he’s had three 20-point performances, the most recent coming in Tuesday’s win over the Hornets. He’s looked much more comfortable hunting his spots in the offense and hasn’t been shy about letting it fly, with double digit shot attempts coming in 7 of his last 10 games.

Murray played a key role in the Spurs win in San Antonio, scoring 13 points, handing out five assists and shooting 50 percent from deep.

From the Vault

Tim Duncan is now the lead assistant coach —and presumptive heir apparent to Gregg Popovich. He also ripped the heart out of the New Jersey Nets back in the 2003 Finals, coming up with a near quadruple double (20 points, 21 rebounds, 10 assists and 8 blocks) vs. the Nets in the deciding game. He also held Kenyon Martin to six points on 3-of-23 shooting. A completely dominating performance, one for the ages.

Meanwhile, Spurs fans are taking umbrage with a Richard Jefferson rant on Wednesday in which he said Tim Duncan had been “carried” his entire career by others. It was a joke, guys!