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Nets burned on offensive glass and second-chance points, lose to Heat, 106-93

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Miami Heat v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

It was a great game but a frustrating one that the Nets will certainly dissect in the morning. Meanwhile, frustration was the overwhelming emotion in the immediate aftermath of the gut-wrenching defeat Wednesday night. The Nets' loss to Miami, 106-93, put the Nets at 2-3 on the season while the Heat is now 3-1.

“It’s tough. Tough to lose a game like this, but it’s all a part of the process. We just got to keep building and continue to keep going. I know we’re all frustrated because obviously we all want to win but it’s a bigger picture,” said James Harden on the loss.

The Nets played from behind throughout the contest and were outdueled on the boards — 62-42 overall — and allowed 17 offensive rebounds. Once again, the Nets lost out on second-chance points and put up fewer shots. All three flaws are ones Steve Nash has identified as Brooklyn’s Achilles heel for the team and has emphasized on improving. Not tonight, however.

“We’ve talked about it a lot. It’s an Achilles heel for us, giving up offensive rebounds. We got to keep working and it’s got to continue to be a priority. Obviously tonight, 17 is way too many,” said Nash on the offensive rebounding woes.

“Since we don’t have the personnel that is naturally going to clean up the glass, we got to all come in and gang-rebound,” Nash added discussing improving rebounding. “We can’t have two-three guys back-peddling down the other end of the floor watching the ball get banged around in there. We got to come back, help and hit. Today, we definitely got out-rebounded in a big way and what was the difference in the game.”

The common flaws will hover over positives but the Nets' steady defensive improvement was the silver lining in the defeat.

“We got hurt in transition. We gave up a ton of offensive rebounds and we fouled in the second half a lot. That was too much,” said Nash on the defeat. “Otherwise, our defense was pretty solid. You take away the rebounds, some of the fouls and you hold them still to 106 points. That’s not bad, so lots to work on. Obviously disappointed with the offensive rebounds we gave up and some of the transition buckets.”

A big consequence of the Nets getting burned on the boards was a huge deficit in second-chance points (15-2) and a lack of scoring in the paint (30-20).

“I think overall, a consistent theme throughout the game was the second-chance opportunities. When you look up and the shot margin is as big as it was, it’s really hard to beat good teams. It’s been a problem last year and a problem a lot of this year so far,” said Joe Harris on second-chance opportunities differential.

Kevin Durant carried Brooklyn’s stagnant offense throughout the contest, finishing with 25 points and 11 rebounds on 9-of-18 shooting overall and 2-of-4 from deep in 37 minutes. Durant has scored 25+ in each of the first five games for the first time in his career. The stretch is also second-longest in franchise history, one behind Vince Carter’s start in 2006-07.

Harris made history Wednesday night, becoming the Nets' all-time leader in threes made. Harris shot 5-of-11 from three to end his historic night with 15 points in 34 minutes.

“It means a lot. For me coming to Brooklyn, it’s not something I necessarily thought was going to happen at any point in time. I’m fortunate for a lot of things. One, to be here long enough. I’m fortunate the game has shifted in a way where we take a lot of threes and then, individual accolades; this is a team game. It doesn’t happen if it's not for a lot of other great players, coaches, and personnel around you,” said Harris on setting the Nets’ franchise record for threes made.

Harden, who is still trying to gather his confidence on the court after a summer-long rehab, finished with 14 points on 4-of-12 shooting overall and 3-of-8 from three to go with seven assists and seven rebounds in 36 minutes. The Nets head coach likes the small improvements he thinks Harden is showing.

“I think James is showing signs of getting his rhythm back. Like I keep saying, it’s not an easy process, so it’s going to take him some time and we have to be patient with him,” said Nash on Harden’s slow start. “But he definitely had some incredible stretches tonight to build on.”

Right off the opening tip, an up-tempo pace and intensity were present on the hardwood for both teams. The Heat pressured the Nets transition defense early in early offense situations off Brooklyn’s long-range shooting.

Midway through the first, the pace slowed down a tad and Brooklyn forged an 8-0 run behind the play of Durant and Harris, but Miami responded in kind. The Heat turned up the physicality, sharpened its cuts in the half-court both of which served as catalysts for a 12-0 run. Miami built a nine-point lead with two minutes remaining while the Nets couldn’t catch a rhythm nor the benefit of the doubt on foul calls (five). Miami held a 29-22 advantage heading into the second.

Brooklyn got called for three more fouls in the opening minutes of the third, making the offense stagnant. They also became careless with the ball. The Heat continued to take advantage of early offense in transition and on the boards, forging another 12-0 run to grow their largest lead of the game (12 points).

After a scoreless first frame, Harden served as the x-factor in the team’s late comeback in the second. The point guard began to feel it, scoring 11 points in the frame, and his play, along with Durant’s all-around play — 13 points and eight rebounds — paved the way for a 22-8 run to end the first half. giving them a flimsy 51-49 advantage. To add a sweetener to the Nets strong finish, Blake Griffin took an alley-oop pass from Harden and dunked over Kyle Lowry.

Despite ending the first half up two, it was increasingly clear that Miami was doing most of their damage — at the rim. The Heat dominated the boards, 35-25 and had scored 30 of their first-half points in the paint.

Brooklyn opened the third with a pair of threes from Durant and Harris — the three that gave the longest-tenured Net the franchise record for three-pointers made. Otherwise, it was all Miami early in the third. The Heat continued their assault at the rim and after a costly turnover by Durant that led to a three by Duncan Robinson, the Heat were back up by six. Miami continued their persistence on the offensive glass (14-3) and the Nets struggled to find a rhythm in the closing minutes of the third, entering the final 12 minutes trailing by eight points.

It was a frustrating start to the fourth. Miami ballooned their lead back up to double-digits and Brooklyn remained cold on the offensive end. The Nets finally got to the free-throw line for the first time in the second half at the 8:32 mark and followed that with a 10-2 run to cut the deficit to three with 5:48 remaining. That was the closest Brooklyn got and Miami outdueled the Nets on both ends and delivered a 10-0 run knockout punch in the closing minutes to escape with the victory.

The Film (Stat) Room

The Film Room is the “Stat Room” today. I hope that’s okay.

Traditions are a beautiful thing. The Holidays give us the opportunity to celebrate with loved ones, maybe share some gifts. Perhaps enjoy a seasonal beverage or two. Birthdays, too, a marvelous occasion. For just one day, you become the center of the universe. It’s really splendid when you think about it.

But in Brooklyn, there is a new tradition in town. One that doesn’t spread as much joy up and down the busy, bustling streets of New York.

The Nets failing to rebound in big games has become a regular occurrence.

This game was no exception.

Miami enjoyed a whopping +16 advantage with points in the paint. 17 of the Heat’s 45 rebounds came on the offensive end of the floor. In fact, the Heat ripped down nearly half as many offensive rebounds (17) as the Nets’ secured defensive rebounds (38). The Nets, meanwhile, mustered 4 offensive rebounds to the Heat’s 38 defensive rebounds.

“Every game, you gotta be conscious of offensive rebounds and boxing out and finishing on possessions. That’s how team’s feel like they can beat us because we got a lot of offense , we move the ball pretty well, and we got a solid defense,” said Kevin Durant. “If you can create more possessions than your opponents then it’s always good. So we gotta be conscious of boxing out, helping each other, gang rebounding, and then getting out and going.”

Dewayne Dedmon was the lead culprit, grabbing 9 rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench. Many of those boards just fell into his hands amidst a sea of multiple Net defenders. Jimmy Butler’s 14 rebounds burned just as badly.

PJ Tucker carried over the lessons learned from his days in Milwaukee, battling with Brooklyn in last year’s second-round series. When the Nets chose to leave Tucker alone in the weakside corner to help on drives, the wily veteran would sneak behind the defense and crash the offensive glass to create second-chance points. He continued to do so against the Nets on Wednesday by grabbing boards from the corners, and you could practically see him thinking, “these Nets aren’t going to box out, so I’m getting mine!”

31 of Miami’s 104 total points came from second-chance opportunities. Tucker was a big contributor in this category. The Nets, meanwhile, managed just 4 points off offensive rebounds.

“Gotto be a team effort. We got to gang rebound. especially the lineups, different lineups, that we have in the game,” said James Harden. “Put bodies on guys. At the end of the day, you’ve gotta fight.”

This trend has to change.

As Sponge Bob might say

What’s next

The Nets will continue their six-game homestand on Friday, Oct. 29 when the team hosts Caris LeVert and the Indiana Pacers. The game is scheduled to tip at 7:30 PM ET.

For a different perspective on Wednesday’s loss, check out Hot Hot Hoops — our sister site covering the Heat.