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Nets suffer blowout loss to Warriors at Barclays Center, 117-99

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Golden State Warriors v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

It was a nationally televised blowout at Barclays Center Tuesday night.

The loss was a tale of two halves but in the final two quarters, it was all Golden State. In the end, the Nets suffered an ugly loss to the Warriors in a potential NBA Finals preview, 117-99. With the defeat, Brooklyn falls to 10-5 on the young season while snapping their three-game winning streak against Golden State.

“I don’t think we had our juice tonight. In the first half, we were still in the game, but giving up offensive rebounds, not protecting our rim, getting out of our basic coverages, and then it all obviously fell apart a little in the third where I thought we got really stagnant with the ball and our energy dropped,” said Steve Nash on the loss. “There wasn’t enough fight against a team that's that good.”

The Warriors' defense made the league’s leading scorer, Kevin Durant work for his shots and locked the Nets superstar down. Durant finished the contest with 19 points on 6-of-19 shooting from the field and 2-of-6 from deep. His streak of 14-straight 20+ point games has been snapped as well in the defeat — finishing fourth all-time in Nets’ franchise history.

“They played great defense. They did a good job. They got long defenders and guys that can help. So, seeing bodies all the time when I had the ball, that’s what great defenses do. There were some shots I wish I could’ve had back. Once we got down 15-20, I was trying to get it back so fast and ended up taking bad shots and rushed shots,” Durant said. “It’s all a part of the journey. It’s all a part of understanding what level we need to be at every possession and it’s a great test for us.”

James Harden paved the way offensively for Brooklyn, finishing with 24 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the field and 2-of-6 from deep followed by Bruce Brown with 14 points in 27 minutes of action.

“The third quarter. As you can see the numbers, 35-18 (scoring differential),” said Harden on when the game got away from Brooklyn. “We knew they’re a pretty solid team, especially in that third quarter. We just, for whatever reason, we just didn’t have the pop. Not to make excuses but obviously, they’re a really good team and have been playing extremely well, but it’s always difficult after a very, very long road trip. to come back and have that extra energy and that extra pop that was needed. Overall, through four quarters, we just didn’t have it.”

Despite shooting above 50 percent in the first half, the Nets came crumbling down in the second half. Brooklyn shot 39.1 percent from the field and 27.8 percent from three while being outrebounded, 53-37.

With Joe Harris (ankle) out, the Nets opened the contest with the starting five of Harden, Mills, Durant, Brown and Griffin. Brooklyn opened the first six minutes of the contest hitting six of their first seven shots through a balanced attack by the starters. Golden State played with a fast pace, hitting five of their first 10 shots but got open looks.

The two offenses continued to explode with the pace remaining fast throughout the quarter. Brooklyn — led by Durant with 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field — shot 58.8 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from three while Golden State — led by Steph Curry with 12 points in nine minutes — shot 52.2 percent from the floor and 36.4 percent from deep.

The difference-maker early was foul shooting. The Warriors got to the line only three times compared to the Nets 10-of-11 from the charity strike (a season-high in the first quarter) to take an early 34-31 advantage.

Golden State quickly trimmed the deficit and took a one-point lead (41-40) midway through the second due to their fast pace and rebounding efforts, opening up second-chance opportunities to forge an 8-0 run. Harden picked up this third foul in that span as well and didn’t play till the final stretch of the quarter. Mills tied up the game (50-50) with a 27-foot transition three with a little over three minutes remaining but the Nets struggled to defend Andrew Wiggins, who scored all of his 13 points in the second, including back-to-back threes to conclude the half.

“I thought we were too stagnant. We tried to force-feed situations. We didn’t play. We didn’t move the ball on the second side. We didn’t make quick decisions and they junked up the game. They’re a smart team that plays box-in-one, triangle-and-two, but I thought we got too stagnant, too ISO-heavy, didn’t move it, and attack the basket,” said Nash on the Nets in the second. “It was a good lesson for us.”

The Warriors led the Nets by five (63-58) at the break but the difference makers were evident. Brooklyn’s lack of size paid the price, being outrebounded 25-14 and the bench only scored four points (all from DeAndre’ Bembry). Meanwhile, the Nets had three players in double-figures — Durant (16 points), Brown (14 points) and Harden (14 points) while the Warriors had two — Curry (19 points) and Wiggins (13) — but did a solid job exposing Brooklyn’s switching defense.

Golden State Warriors v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

It was all Warriors in the third. The team extended their scoring run to 14-0 to start the third quarter behind the play of Wiggins until back-to-back buckets by Harden snapped the run. The intensity and pace rose to a high in the contest and despite Brooklyn trailing by 13, Curry picked up his fourth foul at the seven minute mark of the third and shortly after, LaMarcus Aldridge checked in for the first time off the bench.

“He was going to go in. They went small so we went small and then we were going to put him in, but he didn’t feel warm,” said Nash on Aldridge’s late sub-in. “He’d been sitting over there a while so we said we’d rather save him for the second half.”

Although Curry was on the bench for an extended amount of time, Brooklyn couldn’t capitalize, losing a coaches challenge and forfeiting a 13-3 run to fall in a 20-point hole. The Warriors and their tenacious defense held the Nets' stagnant offense — shot 5-of-22 in the third — needing to buy a bucket and after Andre Iguodala drilled a left-wing three at the buzzer, Golden State hit the final 12 minutes of play with a commanding 22-point lead (98-76).

“I felt like the signs were coming in the first half. We were making poor decisions on the first action and the level of the ball defensively. We were getting driven and weren’t protecting our rim with our defensive coverages. As the game went on, we got more and more stagnant defensively. That’s where they’re really special, defensively,” said Nash on the Nets crumbling in the third.

“They got good defenders but they’re really smart at putting doubt in your mind and plugging up the gaps. Hopefully, we can take a lot from the game but I think the number one thing was our energy or compete wasn’t high enough. That’s a non-negotiable against the Warriors.”

The Warriors grew their lead to 27 and with a little under nine minutes remaining, Nash and the Nets emptied their bench — Cam Thomas, Jevon Carter, Kessler Edwards, Bembry and Day’Ron Sharpe to finish out the blowout.

Curry finished the win leading the Warriors with a game-high 37 points on 12-of-19 shooting from the field and 9-of-14 from three in 29 minutes followed by Wiggins with 19 points in 22 minutes. Golden State improves to an NBA-best 12-2 on the young season with the win.

Making thing worse was that the crowd was at least 50-50 Warrior fans and in terms of decibel levels, a lot more lopsided. The game attracted 17,732 fans, a capacity crowd for Barclays Center.

The Film Room

The Nets had no answer for Stephen Curry.

Brooklyn entered Tuesday’s game with the 9th ranked defense in the league, spearheaded by a gaggle of staunch perimeter defenders. DeAndre’ Bembry, Jevon Carter, and Bruce Brown all profiled as guys who could at least apply some pressure on the Warriors’ superstar scorer.

It didn’t matter.

Curry got going early when the Nets so kindly handed him Blake Griffin on a switch. Bruce Brown doesn’t do a ton to fight over the screen, a rarity this season, and Brooklyn is rewarded by the first of 9 three-pointers from the Splash Bro.

It wasn’t the first time that one of Brooklyn’s bigs found himself guarding Stephen Curry in space. After mostly sticking with drop coverage to kickstart the year and tasking their guards with navigating screens, the Nets switched the script by switching the script and got burned in the process. In the second half, Brooklyn switched LaMarcus Aldridge (primarily a one-scheme guy) onto Curry, which went about as well as you could imagine.

It wasn’t the coaching staff’s best performance, to say the least.

With Curry smoldering the Barclays Center with long-range bombs, like this absolutely silly relocation three, the Nets continued to get deeper and deeper into a hole. Their confidence was shattered. The defense was second-guessing itself. And honestly, what do you even do about this as a defense?

By the fourth quarter, Curry was just flexing on the Nets. DeAndre’ Bembry Bembry bites on the pump-fake, adding insult to injury.

Other bizarre personnel decisions were made outside of using the bigs in a switching scheme they were ill-fit to perform in. LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t see a second of floor time for the entire first half, only to be inserted into the second half and asked to guard the hottest player on the floor. The rotations were odd, especially without Joe Harris. Cam Thomas even saw a couple of minutes with the Big 2.

Brooklyn has a lot to clean up after this one, that much is certain. It’s only up from here.

Joe Harris to miss a ‘few games’ with left ankle sprain

Brooklyn Nets v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Prior to Tuesday’s game against the Warriors, Steve Nash said Joe Harris (left ankle sprain) will miss a “few games.” The Nets head coach added Harris will have his ankle re-imaged and did not provide what grade Harris’ ankle sprain is.

“He’s probably going to miss a few games and then we’ll probably have him re-imaged and see where we’re at,” said Nash on Harris. So, nothing definitive at all about his return.

The loss of Harris is an unusual one for Brooklyn. The sharpshooter has been one of Brooklyn’s most durable players, missing only 16 games over the last four seasons.

Steve Nash keeps in touch with Kyrie Irving

2021 NBA Playoffs - Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Nets head coach was asked about Kyrie Irving for the first time in weeks and whether he communicates with Kyrie Irving. Nash said he does keep in touch with his superstar guard but the conversations aren’t basketball-based.

“I stay in touch with Kyrie but we don’t really talk about basketball,” Nash said. “We just stay in touch and make sure everything is good with him.”

No LaMarcus Aldridge in first half?

So was Steve Nash’s decision not to play LaMarcus Aldridge about saving him for the second half back-to-back vs. the Pacers Wednesday? Not quite, said Steve Nash post-game.

Nash said he planned to play Aldridge but Golden State went small.

“They went small so we went small,” Nash said. “Then we were going to put him in and he didn’t feel warm. He’d been sitting over there a while so he said we’d rather save it for the second half.”

By the time Nash inserted the seven-footer at 6:32 in the third, the flow of the game had gone in the opposite direction. The Nets third leading scorer ultimately played only nine minutes, scoring two points, grabbing one board and handing out one assist.

Now, the question is how much time LMA will get vs. Cleveland. With Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, Lauri Markkanen all out and Kevin Love uncertain, the Cavs will HAVE to go small.

Garbage Time Report

The Nets young’ins got themselves some garbage time at game’s end, what with the Warriors rolling up an insurmountable lead and Steve Nash cognizant that he had another game Tuesday,

Cam Thomas got 15 minutes and fellow rookies Day’Ron Sharpe and Kessler Edwards nine each. Edwards finished his NBA debut with eight points and three rebounds. going 3-for-6 overall, 2-for-4 from three, and in general looked like a player. Sharpe had four points, seven rebounds and a block while Thomas had four points, three assists, two rebounds and two steals. He did have another poor shooting night, finishing 2-of-9, including 0-of-5 from deep. It’s a process

What’s next

The Nets will return to action Wednesday night when the team hosts the banged-up Cavaliers for the second game of a back-to-back. The game is scheduled to tip at 7:30 p.m. ET.

For a different perspective, check out Golden State of Mind — our sister site covering the Warriors.