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Caris LeVert 43-point performance not enough as Nets fall to Grizzlies, 115-110

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Brooklyn Nets v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Caris LeVert’s third-quarter takeover was not enough as the Grizzlies defeated the Nets, 115-110. With the loss, the Nets fall to 5-5 on the season while the Grizzlies improve to 3-6 and pick up their first home win of the season. Two of the Grizzlies’ wins have been against the Nets. In both games, Brooklyn was without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

“Obviously frustrating but considering we went down 22 and to fight back to get up four, it was just a couple possessions here and there where we drove it into a crowd or took it into a crowd in transition instead of taking care of the ball and getting a shot at the basket,” Steve Nash said following the loss. “When you give yourself that hole to climb out of, sometimes no matter how far you climb back, it’s too much to overcome by the end.”

After trailing by 22 points in the closing minutes of a sloppy first half, LeVert put the Nets on his back, scoring 19 points of the Nets 39 third-quarter points to pull Brooklyn back into the game. The Nets’ 39 points third quarter marked the most points the team has scored in any third quarter on the road since their last trip to Memphis on October 17, 2019.

Despite clawing back into the game, the Nets couldn’t carry over the momentum in the fourth quarter, struggling to find quality looks on the offensive end and losing momentum to turnovers. As the game came down to the final minute of play, Jarrett Allen saw extended minutes on the bench, checking in with 1:09 remaining in the game.

“DJ was giving us good minutes. He was doing fine and playing well. We wanted to get JA back into the game and unfortunately, at that point, he was stuck at the sideline for a minute or two,” Nash said about Jarrett Allen checking into the game late. “I really didn’t want to burn a timeout because DJ was doing fine. It was one of those unlucky situations but I don’t think that was the difference in the game.”

LeVert finished the loss with a game-high 43 points, five rebounds, and six assists in 36 minutes of play. To complement his impressive performance, LeVert joined Vince Carter (2006-07) and Sam Cassell (1997-98) as the only Nets to post 25+ points twice against the Grizzlies. His 43-point performance was the second time the 26-year-old has scored 40+ points in his career, the other being his 51-point OT classic against the Celtics in early March.

“It’s awesome. This is nothing new for Caris,” Joe Harris said following the loss. “He has had a ton of big games before but he really had it cooking today. I kind of wish we put him into some better spots there at the end because he had such a hot hand but again, Memphis did a good job of taking things away from him. Hedging out, doubling him, and just getting the ball out of his hands so a lot of that is more so on us to put him in the right spots where he is able to get a little more room, facilitate, or at least not go into a double. At the end of the day, he played amazing and he is really the reason we contested to win this game.”

Taurean Prince provided a solid performance for Brooklyn, scoring 16 points and four rebounds in 24 minutes of play. His 16 points in Friday’s loss is a season-high, but overall, he shot only 4-of-13 overall.

Joe Harris provided a punch off the bench, finishing with 13 points on 6-9 shooting overall but 1-3 from deep. In the final minute, Harris kept his 3-point streak alive, hitting a three and extending the Nets franchise record to 70 straight games.

Nets finished the loss shooting 46.9 percent overall and 45.2 from deep. Brooklyn turned over the ball 21 times.

As for the Grizzlies, Dillan Brooks led the way scoring 24 points followed by Brandon Clarke, who contributed 21 points in 33 minutes of play. Memphis finished the game shooting 45.9 percent overall and 40.6 from deep.

It is worth noting Jonas Valanciunas did not return to the game following the first half due to health and safety protocols. It was reported that the Grizzlies big man did not test positive at the time of the move.

LeVert has now scored 89 points in the last three games, none of which were played with both KD and Kyrie.

The Film Room

There is an art to communicating in transition defense; yes, defenders should work with an open flow of communication while staying committed to their matchups; and yes, sometimes, one specific player will need to take charge of assigning these matchups while hustling back on defense.

But like all things in life, it must be done in moderation. Focus too much on divvying up those matchups while yelling at teammates and you run the risk of failing to take on the most important task at hand...

Stop the damn ball.

Above, you’ll see Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot raise his hand to “call ball” and pick up the ball-handler in transition (De’Anthony Melton). However, he turns his head to assure that his teammate, Chris Chiozza, is aware of Grayson Allen streaking up the wings. By the time he turns to face ball, Melton has jetted ahead to the basket for a slam. DeAndre Jordan’s lackluster jogging help certainly doesn’t help, well... anything.

Now to Brooklyn’s credit, they shored things up in the second half, as mentioned above. But according to Jeff Green, Brooklyn fell into bad habits down the stretch.

“I think we turned over the ball a little bit,” said Jeff Green. “We allowed them to get out in transition; they got open looks, hit a couple of threes. I know we let them hit a corner three to put them up 6... We just allowed them to get into the rhythm they had at the beginning of the game.”

Look, all praises due to Joe Harris, but with 13 seconds on the shot-clock, a jump-stop fadeaway 10-footer isn’t necessarily the best attempt in a close game. You’ll see below that as Joe drives, Memphis “sinks” to DeAndre Jordan in the dunker’s spot, leaving Jeff Green open in the corner. That is not an easy pass for Joe to make, driving left and throwing right through a sea of arms, but it’s a missed opportunity nonetheless.

These are the end of game decisions that Jeff Green and later Steve Nash (more on that in a second) were referring to.

What exactly happened with Jarrett Allen down the stretch?

Jarrett Allen was subbed out for DeAndre Jordan to start the fourth-quarter. He did not return until the game was practically over. There was no medical reason provided, nor mention of conditioning nor even rest needed. He was just...pulled from a tight game just days after going blow-for-blow with two of the league’s best centers in the league, Rudy Gobert and Joel Embiid.

Nash tried to sub “The Fro” back in at around the 2:40 mark of the fourth but did not get a dead ball to do so. He did, however, have timeouts at his disposal, so he could’ve stopped the clock that way to put in his breakout center. As a result, Allen sat idly for a full minute and a half while watching his Nets have the game slip away. Here are two screenshots:

And again, with a minute (-ish) to spare.

Allen finally entered the game at 1:09 and then was subsequently pulled at the 21.9-second mark of the fourth––once it was clear the game was out of reach.

Steve Nash was asked about this decision post-game. Here’s what he had to say:

“DJ was giving us good minutes. He was doing fine, playing well. We wanted to get JA back in the game. And unfortunately at that point, he was stuck on the sidelines for a minute or two. Didn’t really want to burn a timeout because DJ was doing fine. Just one of those unlucky situations, but I don’t think that was the difference in the game. Turned the ball over a couple of times or took it into a crowd or got blocked when we maybe should’ve been patient.”

Steve Nash comfortable playing Friday’s game as he trusts league’s protocols

Following the Brooklyn Nets win over the Philadelphia 76ers, news broke that Seth Curry tested positive for COVID-19, which Philadelphia learned near the start of the game. Curry was removed from the bench and Barclays Center to isolate separately from the team.

When asked whether Steve Nash was hesitant on playing Friday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies prior to the game, Nash stated he trusts the league’s health and safety protocols. If a situation similar to Curry were to happen with the Nets, Nash noted the Nets will act accordingly, handle, and react to the situation.

“I think we are all just so prepared and use to it,” Nash said about COVID-19 and the health and safety protocols. “We keep moving, have trust in the protocols, and that there is an understanding at deep and high level of the league. They consulted with the CDC to build these protocols and we have faith that we can continue to go on and move as safe as possible and manner. If something is flagged within our group, we will obviously handle and react like Philly had to react. There is a sense of putting our trust in the league and knowing that they have done the best they can to put us in a safe position.”

As for Philadelphia, the team released that five players are already ruled out for Saturday’s game against the Denver Nuggets: Curry, Terrance Ferguson, Furkan Korkmaz, and Mike Scott. Despite having four players out, the Sixers have put Joel Embiid, Danny Green, Tobias Harris, Shake Milton, Vincent Poirier, Paul Reed, and Matisse Thybulle as questionable due to health and safety protocols.

The Nets currently have two players (Kevin Durant and Tyler Johnson) out due to health and safety protocols.

What’s next?

The Nets will host the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday, Jan. 10. The game is set to tipoff at 6:00 PM ET and will be broadcasted on YES Network.

For a different perspective, head on over to Grizzly Bear Blues, our Grizzlies’ sister site on SB Nation.