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Nets try to snap out of it vs. the Jazz

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Utah Jazz v Denver Nuggets Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Simply put, the Brooklyn Nets are a bad basketball team right now. Bad bad bad bad bad bad bad. They faced a Sacramento Kings team that came into Wednesday night’s game riding a seven game losing streak. However, Sacramento put together a great second half and handed Brooklyn their sixth straight loss in an ugly performance on Wednesday night. Kevin Durant isn’t coming to save them right now, so everyone that’s here needs to figure it out, and fast.

The opponent tonight will be the Utah Jazz. Quin Snyder and friends have been in a slump recently, but are hoping for sunnier days ahead. They snapped a five game road losing streak with a terrific win on Wednesday night against the Denver Nuggets. Even with their slump, the Jazz are a good bet to have homecourt advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 9 p.m.

Injuries

KD is still out, and everyone associated with the team is hoping his recovery is going as good as humanly possible. Joe Harris may need to undergo a second surgery on his injured ankle. LaMarcus Aldridge is out with his own ankle injury. And a late scratch: James Harden is out. It’s hamstring tightness not a sprained hand.

Rudy Gobert is out with a left calf strain. Joe Ingles is out for the season after suffering an ACL tear. Danuel House, Jr is in health and safety protocols and out for this contest. Hassan Whiteside is questionable with a lower back strain. Jordan Clarkson is questionable with right knee soreness.

The game

For all the awfulness that was Wednesday night for Brooklyn, Nic Claxton had one of the best games of his career. Clax had 23 points, 11 rebounds, and a career high five blocks in 29 minutes. He got tired in the second half which explains why he didn’t see the court late. The next two games will test his conditioning and the Nets are hoping Wednesday was the start of a dominating stretch as he tries to help get the Nets back on track.

With Gobert out and Whiteside less than 100 percent, Udoka Azubuike has stepped into the starting center position.

Last year, LeBron and KD picked the Jazz All Star players last in the draft and made a few jokes along the way. Safe to say, some of our Utah friends were #bigmad. For all of our sakes, they might need to leave the jokes at home this year.

Like Brooklyn, Utah is rumored to be seeking reinforcements to boost their championship odds before the February 10 trade deadline. Over at SLC Dunk, Sven Karabegovic wrote about one intriguing possibility, the Indiana Pacers’ Justin Holiday:

So then, what does Holiday provide? For one, he fills the need for size and length on the perimeter. Standing at 6-6 with a wingspan just short of 7-feet, Holiday would immediately walk in as one of Utah’s most versatile defenders. While he only weights 180 pounds, Holliday has spent a nearly identical amount of time defending both guards and forwards this season. He does a solid job of using his length to clog up passing lanes and contest perimeter shooters. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not an All-NBA defender or a ball stopper on the defensive end, but he’s surly better than most of what Utah’s got. He can competently switch on screens, rotate from the weak side, and move his feet.

Theoretically, Holiday would be a good fit for the Nets... except he has loudly and proudly refused to be COVID-19 vaccinated and thus wouldn’t be able to play in New York. Yeah, we’re kinda familiar with that around these parts.

This one is gonna be a style clash. Utah is second in three pointers attempted a game and has made 36.2 percent of their attempts, good for seventh best in the NBA this season. Brooklyn on the other hand is 27th in three pointers attempted and 13th in efficiency. Where they’re similar is that both teams allow a lot of points off of turnovers (Brooklyn, 27th; Utah, 28th). Making the most out of every possession will take on extra importance tonight.

It’s pretty wild that Mike Conley has never made the All Star team. He’s been a solid hand across his 14 year career and has always made his teams better. With Utah hoping to make their first conference finals appearance since the Deron Williams era, they’ll need him to remain healthy and effective throughout the second half of the season.

Wednesday was the first bad Kyrie Irving game of the season. Despite his best efforts, his shot wasn’t there as he went 5-15 from the field on the night. The great thing about Irving is that even if he’s struggling, all he needs is one shot to go down and he’ll be able to go off on a big streak to power the offense. Even with his struggles on Wednesday, he was playing hard and trying to make the right plays to keep the Nets in it. With one more game to go on this road trip, the Nets are going to need Irving to power them through it before they get back home.

Player to watch: Donovan Mitchell

Welcome back, Spida! Mitchell has been out since January 19 as he has been in the league’s concussion protocol. This is his first game back and he probably won’t be out there for his usual 34 minutes a night. When Mitchell is attacking downhill, he’s one of the most dynamic players in the league. He’s always been a good finisher at the cup and this season he’s shooting a career best 71.2 percent on shots inside of three feet. He’s shooting a career worst 33.9 percent from three point range on almost ten shots a game, which is pretty concerning for a team that lives from downtown. The relationship between he and Gobert has been a consistent point of discussion over the last two years, and it seems like things are getting awkward again. Eek!

We just have to say it like this: a Top 75 player of all time and 2022 All Star can NOT, can NOT play as listlessly and pathetically as James Harden did on Wednesday night in Sacramento. Although he handed out 12 assists, he turned it over six times, only scored four points and did not look to drive or place his imprint on the game. To make matters even worse, the Kings got plenty of easy three pointers thanks to Harden not closing out on his defenders. It was the worst game Harden has played as a Net and one of the worst in his illustrious career. Even though the fanbase is (rightfully) furious with him and the team, all it takes is one great win to get things back on track.

From the Vault

Recently, Corbin Smith of The Daily Beast wrote this:

It’s incredibly strange that 10-time NBA All-Star and world-historic stoic athlete John Stockton walks around his house in Spokane, making toast for himself at 7 in the morning before riding on a stationary bike for an hour, all the while thinking about how millions of people are dropping dead because of the COVID vaccines.

But it turns out that we have drastically underestimated the deadliness and virulence of our social media infrastructure. A medium that tracks everything you engage with and then reinforces your strangest curiosities with even more of what you’re looking for is a perfect machine for presenting someone with something untrue—like, for instance, that COVID isn’t real, or that the safe, effective mRNA vaccines that can prevent its spread and mitigate its deadliness are poison. John Stockton is but one of millions of mild-mannered Americans being snookered.

And with that, say hello to one of the greatest point guards in NBA history!

More reading: SLC Dunk