clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant’s combined 74 not enough in 134-124 loss to Grizzlies

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Brooklyn Nets v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Talk about a scoring fest.

For the first time since 1983, a regular season game had four 30+ point scorers. There wasn’t a ton of defense played on Monday, to be clear, but this was a shotmaking clinic. Unfortunately, the Nets wound up on the short end, losing 134-124 to the Grizzlies in Memphis. The Nets are now 1-2.

Brooklyn was led by their stars, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, once more. Duh. Who else would it be?

Durant dropped 37 points on an absurd 14-of-20 shooting line, including a ridiculous 15-point third quarter. He largely kept his squad in the game as the Grizzlies caught fire from deep to kick off the second half.

Irving, meanwhile, was locked in from all three levels of the floor. He did his damage in the fourth quarter when Durant sat. Irving scored 19 of his team-high 37 points in the final frame after a scoreless third quarter.

The third member of Brooklyn’s starry triumvirate, Ben Simmons, had another disappointing finish, scoring just seven points and fouling out his second time in three games.

Memphis, meanwhile, got absurd production from their backcourt, with early MVP candidate Ja Morant dropping 38 points and his running mate, Desmond Bane, dropping a career-high 38 points on 8-of-11 from deep.

“I felt we lost him too many times,” Steve Nash said of Bane’s second half when Bane scored 32 points. “We were not staying attached. We weren’t talking and there was some confusion. We lost our game plan.”

The Nets did a fairly good job keeping Memphis—a ferocious offensive rebounding team—off the glass, losing the rebounding battle by just three at 38-35. They also kept the lighting quick Grizz out of transition, who scored just 16 points on fast breaks. Still, though, 3-point shooting was largely the story in this one; Memphis knocked down a whopping 47.1% of their looks from distance, whereas the Nets were successful on just 31% of theirs. Joe Harris, in his second game back, was only 2-of-7.

Nic Claxton had another double-figure scoring night, finishing with 16 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, shooting 7-of-10 overall and 2-of-2 from the line. He’s now shooting 50% from the line.

Both squads got off to strong starts early, knotted up at 10 apiece before the first timeout break. Ja Morant quickly filled up the box score with 7 early points, and then Nets received a fairly democratic scoring input.

Santi Aldama began to pitch in for the Grizzlies, notching 5 first-quarter points off a catch-and-shoot three and fadeaway midrange shot against Kyrie Irving. Brooklyn, meanwhile, was carried throughout the first by their star, Kevin Durant, who put up 11 first-quarter points. At the end of the quarter, Kyrie Irving began to get it going and hit a tough stepback jumper with the clock expiring, 39-34, Memphis.

The Grizzlies stretched their lead to 44-36 after a defensive miscue in which Desmond Bane back cut behind the defense and Edmond Sumner turned the ball over at the rim on the other end. Then, Kevin Durant checked in and the Nets immediately went on a 10-0 run with 7:35 to spare in the second. Not even halfway through the second quarter, Kyrie and KD had already eclipsed 30 combined points on 63% shooting.

Fans were privy to a shot-making clinic down the stretch of the second; Morant threw down an outrageous alley-oop in transition and Kyrie returned the favor on the other end with a gorgeous runner off the glass. Brooklyn maintained its advantage to end the half, 69-64.

Memphis almost immediately got off to a hot start to kick off the third when Bane hit three straight 3-pointers, including a nasty stepback. Memphis continued to cook, fighting back and stretching a lead to 85-74, as the Nets' defense allowed dribble penetration over and over.

Durant began to catch fire, hitting a series of midrange buckets to the tune of 11 points in 3 minutes of play. Still, the Grizzlies kept punching back behind pull-up threes from Ja Morant and Desmond Bane. Durant wouldn’t stop, raising his total to 15 points in the quarter, almost single-handily keeping his Nets in the game. But it was all for naught; Bane splashed a deep and very disrespectful three with three seconds left to keep Memphis’ lead at 12.

Kyrie led the charge with six quick points to start the fourth, but the Grizzlies didn’t let their foot off the gas. It helped that Brooklyn couldn’t stop fouling, with Simmons picking up his fifth foul on a Desmond Bane drive.

But it wasn’t over. The Grizzlies left the door open as the Nets went on an 8-2 run. Bane and Irving got into a shot-making back-and-forth, with each player nailing a pull-up 3-pointer and acrobatic make near the rim. At the 3:52 mark, Simmons picked up his sixth foul on a questionable call while guarding Morant on the perimeter.

More than one analyst suggested that Morant had “baited” Simmons into the foul...

Memphis’ backcourt wouldn’t stop pouring it in as Bane picked up his 38th point after beating Nic Claxton off the dribble with just over a minute to spare. Morant effectively iced things with a deep 3-pointer in Brooklyn’s grill, and that was all she wrote.

The Film Room

Effort. Effort defined this one.

That’s not to say that Brooklyn’s players across the board didn’t put in effort. I mean, the 7/11 duo dropped 74 freakin’ points, for goodness sake!

Defensive miscues ultimately doomed the Nets. Goofed-up switches, poor rotations on the weak side. You name it. Late in the fourth, Nic Claxton and Royce O’Neale whiffed on a switch and left Desmond Bane completely open from three.

Though rebounding didn’t ultimately define this one, the rebounds that the Grizzlies did grab were crucial. Here, Ja Morant grabbed Dillon Brooks’ miss when Kyrie Irving fell asleep instead of boxing out. Not good.

In the third, the Grizzlies grabbed two-straight offensive rebounds in the same possession, producing a wide-open John Konchar three. Again, just back-breaking errors by the Nets.

It didn’t help that the Grizzlies were able to get just about anything they wanted on dribble drives to the rim. Nic Claxton was Brooklyn’s most apt defender for containing the speedy force that is Ja Morant, and even he was unable to do so on this gorgeous scoop layup. Royce O’Neale stood no chance against Ja (or Desmond Bane), too slow. Ben Simmons didn’t look much better.

Ultimately, the loss can be chalked up to this being a bad matchup. The Grizzlies feature guards that tear up Brooklyn’s point-of-attack defense and bruising centers that punish the Nets down low. Still, though, to waste 74 points from the stars like this? Yeesh.

Ben Simmons talks about physical play, refs

For the second time in three games, Ben Simmons fouled out, playing only 28 minutes. The final call, with 3:52 minutes left in the fourth, “confused” him.

“I mean, some of it tonight was a little bit of just bulls—t calls,” said Simmons. “But refs make mistakes, too.”

In speaking specifically about the final call, Simmons said this:

“That’s why I was a little confused. One way, you’re expecting a team to play physical. Then you come out on defense and play the same way, physical, and it goes one way in terms of fouls — but that’s basketball, you’ve got to adjust and I don’t think we adjusted well.”

He also asked for continuing patience.

“I mean, it’s been a minute since you’ve seen me play,” Simmons told the media in Memphis. “So it’s a different speed, different physicality. So it’s just adjusting, getting back to playing basketball and getting comfortable.”

“I think it’s both,” Simmons said when asked if his readjustment was more about offense or defense. “I think just guarding certain players, getting adjusted, speed, how physical you can be. And offensively, it’s a whole new team and whole play style, so just getting used to that, finding my guys and putting myself in position to help this team.”

Steve Nash agreed, once again saying Simmons biggest issue is “rust.”

“I think rust,” Steve Nash said of Simmons, who scored seven points on a 2-for-5 mark from the field while adding three rebounds and eight assists. “I just don’t think he’s played a lot of basketball, so he’s just trying to get his game back, his confidence and the familiarity. It’s been 18 months, basically, so that’s a long period of inactivity. For anyone who’s played the game, that’s very difficult.”

Simmons finished with seven points, eight assists, three rebounds, and a steal. He did hit 3-of-5 from the stripe.

KD on Ja

Kevin Durant knew going into the game what Ja Morant is about.

Prior to the game, Durant was asked if Morant’s game reminded him of anyone:

“Nobody really,” Durant said. “He’s a unique player. A lot of athleticism and creativity out there. Body type reminds you of somebody like — well he’s taller than A.I. [Allen Iverson], but a wiry, strong player ... but he’s an incredible player, man...

“All of these guys are one of ones,” Durant said. “I’ve been in the league with DRose [Derrick Rose] and Russell Westbrook, so many athletic guards I’m missing, but those two stick out the most to me. The stuff they were doing was unheard of, and you’re seeing other guys doing the same thing. I’m sure he’s inspired by those two as well. The league’s in a great place.”

Steve Nash did not dispute Durant’s assessment.

“He’s obviously one of the best players in the league,” Nash said, also prior to the game. “The amount of times he gets in the paint, is able to score, is a concern for every team that plays against him. So you know, it’s important for us to limit his opportunities in transition and pick-and-roll and not to allow him many easy baskets. That’s easier said than done.”

Milestone Watch

Our first of the season! With his 29th point, Kevin Durant (25,614 points) moved past Alex English (25,613 points) into 20th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Next up: Vince Carter (25,728 points).

Seth Curry return ‘soon,” says Steve Nash

Seth Curry missed his third game as he continues his recovery and rehab from left ankle surgery last May.

“(Curry) traveled and we’re just monitoring him still,” Nash told reporters prior to the game. “He’s doing well. I’d say he’s out for Wednesday, but we’ll see whether Thursday, Saturday or the subsequent games. It’s coming soon.”

Markieff Morris missed Monday’s game for personal reasons. His father died over the weekend. His twin brother, Marcus, was also out for the Clippers. Nash said that Markieff will also be unavailable on Wednesday in Milwaukee.

What’s next

The Nets stay on the road and head to Milwaukee for a meetup that could very well be a playoff preview against the Bucks. Coverage begins on ESPN at 7:30 PM, EST.

For a different perspective, head to Grizzly Bear Blues, our Memphis sister site.