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Nets fall short in OT to Mavs, 129-125, despite Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant’s 76

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Dallas Mavericks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets have officially opened the season 1-4. Not great.

To be clear, the Net didn’t fold easily in this one. Brooklyn, coming off a tough road loss against Milwaukee on Wednesday, entered Thursday night battling uphill on a tough early season back-to-back. It took an overtime period for the Mavericks to ultimately finish off the Nets, who battled until the very end.

“I thought we sustained our intensity. I thought we played a more complete game, so I think that’s growth,” said Steve Nash after the game. “We’ve had some big pockets where we had let downs or sort of got away from our principles, but tonight I thought there was a much better overall effort.”

Brooklyn’s schedule has been particularly arduous to start the year, with games against the New Orleans Pelicans, Toronto Raptors, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, and now the Mavericks. Still, though, not great.

Brooklyn basked in yet another herculean effort from Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Irving dropped a team-high 39 points on 14-of-31 shooting, plus seven rebounds and four assists. He also had four blocks on the night, which tied his career-high.

“I thought Kai all year has been fighting. He’s really worked to try to defend,” said Nash post-game. “When he does other things like that, you really are grateful for the performances. It’s not always just about scoring; it’s about finding different ways to help your team. He’s doing that in different ways.”

His co-star, Kevin Durant, dropped 37 points on an efficient 12-of-21 shooting line and tacked on five assists as well.

Outside of the stars, the Nets got some nice production from David Duke Jr. off the bench, who scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting and five rebounds in just 21 minutes before fouling out.

“Well, I mean, the team just wanted to set out to stop me, so guys gonna get wide open lanes, guys gonna get opportunities to score. So you got to be aggressive,” said Durant. “Duke, I think came in and did a good job of putting pressure on the rim.”

Dallas, meanwhile, got an absolutely tremendous performance from Luka Doncic, who put up a game-high 41 points, plus 11 rebounds and 14 assists for the triple-double the 47th of his career.

“He plays at an incredible pace. And he makes great decisions, most offense goes through him. And he takes his time a lot and gets to the free-throw line,” said Irving of the 23-year-old. “So he maximizes on all the rules of the game of basketball, and uses it to his advantage.”

Opponent 3-point shooting was once again what doomed the Nets. Dallas shot 50% (20-of-40) from deep, and Doncic-centered pick-and-pops killed the Nets in overtime when Dallas got nine points off this specific play.

“They hit three threes in overtime. Bad coverage, and their shooters knocked them down,” said KD succinctly.

Brooklyn got its scoring going by having Ben Simmons post up Spencer Dinwiddie and flow into a right-handed short-range jump shot ... always a good sign for the Nets when Simmons shows aggressiveness early. His Nets matched his forcefulness, with Irving splashing a midrange shot against JaVale McGee in drop, and Durant canning a catch-and-shoot three on the break. After a sluggish start, the Mavericks got some rhythm on a Reggie Bullock short midrange shot and two threes from former Net, Spencer Dinwiddie.

Dallas found some offensive flow to close out the first by having Luka Doncic repeatedly post-up Brooklyn’s smallest players, Irving and Patty Mills, and making plays. Doncic finished as the first quarter’s highest scorer with 13 points and his Mavericks ahead, 30-23.

Brooklyn entered the second quarter and closed the gap with Doncic on the bench. Yuta Watanabe hit two straight threes to shrink the gap, the first from the left corner and the second on a pick-and-pop with Kyrie Irving. Brooklyn then proceeded to go on a nice 13-4 run when Durant checked in at the 7-minute mark in the second quarter, with Durant scoring or assisting on seven of those points. The wheels fell off when Durant turned the ball over twice in 30 seconds, allowing the Mavericks to close the gap. Dallas finished the half ahead 61-59.

Both teams played to a virtual standstill in the third quarter until the very end when Dallas stretched its lead to 90-84. Behind their charge was none of than Doncic, who dropped 14 points in the quarter and tossed out some ridiculous no-look passes to teammates. Take a look at this absolute gem. Insane.

“I just thought the energy, the pace, they were able to scramble defensively and get out and put pressure on them in transition,” said Nash about the Nets in the third quarter.

The fourth quarter got off to a strong start for the Nets, with Kyrie Irving splashing two straight three-pointers to open the scoring for Brooklyn. Irving was 2-for-9 from deep before that point and was coming off a 0-of-7 performance beyond the arc against the Bucks, so this was a very welcomed sign.

With Dallas doubling Kevin Durant on nearly every catch, the Nets continued to entrust Irving, who delivered with two more short-range buckets, including this ridiculous hanging layup.

His co-star, Durant, started to pitch in at end of the fourth, scoring 6 straight points in just over a minute-and-a-half of play. Then, it was Irving who hit this deep three over Luka Doncic to put the Nets up four with just over three minutes remaining.

It was Doncic’s turn to punch back with six straight points to put the Mavericks up by two points. He nearly got his eighth on a drive to the rim, but Kevin Durant erased the shot with a huge weakside block that was originally called a goaltend but was quickly overturned.

With the game on the line and up two, Dallas attempted to run down the clock. The ball ended up in Doncic’s hands, the Nets doubled, and Simmons, who once led the NBA steals, ripped the ball away and dished it to Durant for a hammer dunk to tie things at 112 apiece with just 8.8 seconds remaining. Dallas was unable to score on the final possession after a missed Reggie Bullock three and on to overtime, we went.

Dallas opened the overtime period with five quick points off a smooth Doncic midrange shot and a Tim Hardaway Jr. pick-and-pop. The Mavericks continued to get points on wide-open pick-and-pops when the Nets sent two on the ball to Luka—one from Maxi Kleber and a second from Reggie Bullock. Allowing nine overtime points on what was largely the same play effectively ended the game, especially when Doncic hit a floater over Yuta Watanabe to put the Mavericks up nine with just over a minute to spare. Onions, as they say.

The Film Room

Stay tuned for tomorrow... we’ll have a film study on Brooklyn’s pick-and-roll defense down the stretch.

Cam Thomas confused by DNPs

Last year, Cam Thomas was pressed into service with so much bad happening in the Nets backcourt. The 27th pick averaged 8.5 points with 10 games of 20 or more points, including a 30-point effort vs. the Jazz.

This year, after a high scoring Summer League and a preseason where he showed playmaking talents, Thomas has been relegated to the end of the Nets bench, playing only two minutes in five games. He’s not happy about it.

The Post asked Thomas if he was frustrated, “Of course,” he replied.

The 21-year-old was also asked if he had conversations with Steve Nash about his situation. “Ain’t had no conversations [with coach Steve Nash],” Thomas said. “Just not playing at the moment.”

However, he admitted that it’s all been “very” surprising.

Of course, with a strengthened and healthy backcourt, Thomas is behind not just the starters Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons but returnees like Patty Mills, Joe Harris and soon Seth Curry as well as additions like Edmond Sumner. Then tonight, David Duke Jr., got early minutes and Kevin Durant’s praise. Could be a long story for the LSU product.

Arrest at Barclays

ESPN, TMZ and New York Post report a fan was arrested during overtime after he threw a cup of ice at Luka Doncic. Per Justin Terranova of the Post:

With 1:40 left in overtime of the Nets’ loss to the Mavericks at the Barclays Center, a fan threw a cup of ice in the direction of Dallas superstar Luke Doncic. It came when Kevin Durant was shooting free throws and it appeared to land somewhere between Doncic and Nets forward Nic Claxton, who was at the scorer’s table.

The fan then attempted to make a mad dash towards the exit but was apprehended by security, reported.

Here’s video of the incident...

TMZ reported that Justin Boatswain, 24, has been charged with misdemeanor for interfering with a sporting event.

Earlier in the game, the MVP candidate was seen jawing with a fan courtside...

High-Scoring Duo

The Nets now have two players averaging 30 points a game but only one win...

Kevin Durant now is a game short of the Nets record for most consecutive 25-point games to start a season in the franchise’s NBA history:

6 - Vince Carter - 2006-07

5 - Kevin Durant - 2022-23

5 - Kevin Durant - 2021-22

Here’s another stat, one we’d like to forget...

As Sponge Bob might say...

What’s next

Brooklyn gets to stay home to host the Indiana Pacers. This should represent an excellent opportunity for the Nets to change the tides of their season against the young 1-4 Pacers. Coverage begins at 7:30 PM EST on the YES Network.

For a different perspective on tomorrow’s game, head to our sister site, Indy Cornrows. For further recap on Thursday night’s loss go to Mavs Moneyball.