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Short-handed Nets collapse in third as Philly beats Brooklyn, 124-108

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

We could all use a couple of days off.

It wasn’t pretty —and it got positively ugly— as the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the short-handed Brooklyn Nets, 124-108. With the loss, the Nets are now 2-3 in second games of back-to-back’s and fall to 14-11 on the season while the 76ers rise to 17-7.

The Nets, of course, were without Kevin Durant due to health and safety protocols and Kyrie Irving who has a sprained middle finger on his shooting hand. KD is likely out for the week; Irving should be back Tuesday vs. Detroit, per Steve Nash.

After playing a competitive first half, outscoring the 76ers in both quarters and putting up a fight in the second leg of a back-to-back. Despite a strong first half, it was a different script in the third quarter.

Philadelphia kicked it into high gear, capitalizing off Nets turnovers and pushed a 14-0 in the closing minutes of the third leaving James Harden and the Nets frustrated and dazed. The Sixers capped the third quarter outscoring the Nets 43-30 and did not turn back.

Down 16 heading into the final 12 minutes of play, Nash did not play Harden or Joe Harris in the fourth while the Sixers remained with their starters for most of the fourth, releasing their bench in the closing minutes in sets of substitutions. Brooklyn’s bench did make a late-game push, raising the conversation for Nash to put in or leave his starters out but never recovered from their third-quarter collapse.

For James Harden, though the night itself culminated into Brooklyn’s eleventh loss of the season, there were silver linings on the outing; namely, the beatdown in Philly provided the team with some insight as to who on this roster could perform in the playoffs.

“Especially in the postseason, anybody can change a series. Any one possession. Any one player can change an entire series of a postseason,” Harden said. “We wanna build confidence this year and we wanna build confidence in each individual guy. That way when it’s postseason and a guy is thrown in, we know what to expect.”

Nash noted how the Nets need to be a little more physical following the loss but noted how there was a lot to be proud of coming out of this “tough loss.”

“We need to get a little more physical. At times we showed we were. We got in there and cracked people on rebounds, dove on the floor for loose balls, and some of the things we have to do here to get better. I thought we also cleaned up a little bit of our defensive schemes at times and we grew a little bit,” Nash said following the loss. It was a tough loss. We were a little undermanned but there is a lot to be proud of from our guys.”

Despite the Nets picking up their third loss in four games, there were some bright takeaways.

“The Beard” had himself a good game, flirting with a triple-double of 26 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds in 29 minutes of play. With the double-double, Harden picked up his 10th points/assists double-double as a Net and his 14th of the season.

Landry Shamet put together a solid revenge game against his first NBA team, finishing with a season-high 22 points, three assists, and three rebounds in 33 minutes of play off the bench. Shamet hit a season-high five threes in the loss and his 22-point performance marked the first time the 23-year-old scored 20+ points since February of 2020. Over the last two games, he’s 9-of-22 for 40.9 percent.

“He is finding his rhythm, his confidence, and I think this is a player that we all know who he can be,” Nash said on the 23-year-old. “Hopefully he can continue to build some momentum, belief, confidence, and let it fly. He has always worked hard, always competed, and he’s one of those guys you know will always stick to the gameplan on both ends of the floor. Making shots is obviously the last step and he is starting to make them.”

For Landry, that process of finding his rhythm and confidence was simple; it was all about falling back on what got him here in the first place.

“Just getting back to me and trusting my work and what I do on a day-to-day basis,” explained Shamet. “Not so caught up in outcomes or a couple of shots or whatever. Just continuing to find spots to be aggressive, be myself, and try to help us get wins. We didn't tonight so we go back to the drawing board and try and get ready for the next one.”

Norvel Pelle made his Nets debut in the loss contributing two points, three blocks, and five rebounds in 17 minutes of play off the bench. Pelle made his biggest impact defensively, showcasing his rim protection. He did foul out early in the fourth. Fouls were the bane of his defense last season as well. He averaged 8.5 personals per 36 minutes last season.

As a team, Brooklyn finished the loss shooting 44.3 percent from the field and 36.6 percent from deep. The Nets turned over the ball 17 times and were outrebounded 51-34. Five Nets finished in double figures. In addition to Harden’s 26 and Shamet’s 22, Joe Harris finished with 14, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot 13, and Jeff Green 10. Harris took only three 3-pointers, making two.

For Philadelphia, Joel Embiid continued his reputation as a Nets killer scoring 33 points in 35 minutes followed by Tobias Harris with 21 points in 32 minutes. Philly out-scored the Nets 62-32 in the paint.

Now, let’s dive into some film.

The Film Room

Do I have to do a film room for this one? Like, do you guys want this? Are you all ready to re-live the pain?

*Sigh*, alright. Let’s tighten up those laces and do this. If there’s one play that was representative of this Saturday night meetup, it’s this; on a turnover between James Harden and Tyler Johnson, Ben Simmons gladly scoops up the easy opportunity and sprints into transition and absolutely yams on Tyler Johnson.

Yikes.

Speaking of Tyler Johnson, here’s the man himself failing to match-

up in transition. Ho-ly cow were the Nets bad at guarding against the fast-break, especially during that fateful third quarter. A simple swing-swing provides Danny Green, arguably the best Philly shooter on the floor, a wide-open corner three-pointer to firmly put Philly in the lead. The Sixers never looked back, and Brooklyn’s goose was cooked.

Steve Nash: ‘I don’t think Shump is ready ... Norvel could find some action.’

Prior to Saturday’s game against the Philadelphia Sixers, Steve Nash said Iman Shumpert is not ready yet.

“I don’t think Shump is ready yet but Norvel very well could find some action tonight,” Nash said. “We will see how the game goes but it is very possible.”

Shumpert has not played professional basketball since January 6 of 2020 before being cut by the Nets. The head coach noted Thursday how the Nets were trying to get both Pelle and Shumpert in basketball shape.

Both players are non-guaranteed deals, with the Nets having to decide to keep them before February 24. Pelle has a two-year contract.

Or as Sponge Bob might say...

Per Will Hanley...

What’s next

The Nets return back to action on Tuesday as the team travels to Detroit to take on the Detroit Pistons. The game is set to tip-off at 7:00 PM ET and will be broadcasted on YES Network. The game marks the sixth of seven first-half back-to-backs for Brooklyn.

For a different perspective, check out Liberty Ballers, our SB Nation sister site covering the Philadelphia 76ers.