Brooklyn Nets

Nets hold off Rockets and break 3-game losing streak 

The Nets took another two straight losses this week to the New York Knicks and the Minnesota Timberwolves, but prevailed against the Houston Rockets to break their losing streak. They have lost the last 12 of their 14 games and currently hold a 14-27 record. This now puts the Nets at 10th place in the Eastern Conference standings. 

Tough loss at home during Rivals Week

The Nets took a tough loss at home during Rivals Week against the New York Knicks in a 108-103 loss last Tuesday. While the Nets and Knicks battled closely throughout the game, their defense was not enough to put a stop against Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson from scoring 30 points each for the night. The first half of the matchup was close, but the Nets were able to grab a 10-point lead in the third quarter thanks to a 6-0 scoring run.

They managed to lead 85-76 heading into the fourth quarter thanks to a two-pointer by Cam Thomas. However, as the fourth quarter rolled around, the energy and momentum shifted to the Knicks. The Nets missed consecutive 3-point attempts in which the Knicks were able to capitalize on their opportunities on offense after a wild defensive sequence that had both teams blocking each other’s shots as the clock winded down. With the score tied at 101, the Nets had their layup blocked which was picked up by Cam Johnson ,who attempted to put a shot back up.

However, the shot was blocked by O.G. Anunoby, and Josh Hart was able to grab the rebound. Hart passed it across to halfcourt where the ball found Brunson, who then passed it to Randle to score and take the lead for the Knicks. The Nets tried to get themselves back in the game with a 3-pointer but missed, causing the Knicks to fire back with a 3-pointer of their own to solidify the win. 

For the Nets, Mikal Bridges powered the team with 36 points, five rebounds and five assists. Johnson had 19 points and five rebounds, while Nicolas Claxton had eight points, 17 rebounds and two steals. Off the bench, Thomas led with 14 points. 

For the Knicks, Randle had a near triple-double with 30 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, while Brunson had 30 points and four assists. Dante DiVincenzo had 11 points and five rebounds, while Anunoby had 10 points, five rebounds, four steals and two blocks. Off the bench, Miles McBride had eight points. 

Another day another loss

The Nets lost another close one last Thursday after a 96-94 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. After trailing by as much as 17 points in the third quarter, the Nets were able to crawl their way back towards the lead throughout the fourth quarter. They played well offensively as they grabbed a 8-0 scoring run that brought the lead down to a two point possession.

After some time, Thomas was able to get to the line and tie the game up at 94. The size of the Timberwolves were too much for Brooklyn to handle as Rudy Gobert tossed up an alley-oop to Karl Anthony-Towns, who slammed it in to take the lead. The Nets had an opportunity to win the game as they were at the free-throw line with the clock winding down, but it was not the defense that prevented a win but a violation.

As Bridges missed the first free-throw, the Nets were called for a lane violation on the intentional miss. The Timberwolves had the ball at the next possession where they ran out the clock to grab the win. 

For the Nets, Bridges had 21 points and two steals. Claxton had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, including four assists, two steals and two blocks, while Spencer Dinwiddie had 14 points. Off the bench, Thomas had 25 points, six rebounds and two steals. 

For the Timberwolves, Anthony-Towns had a double-double with 27 points and 10 rebounds. Anthony Edwards had 24 points, while Gobert also had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Mike Conley had 10 points, four assists and two steals. Off the bench, Nickeil Alexander had six points. 

The Nets hold out in Houston for the win

The Nets broke their losing streak in a 106-104 faceoff against the Houston Rockets last Saturday. They played great basketball in the first half, shot well and led by as much as 28 points. In the fourth quarter, the gears shifted for the Rockets. They were able to garner momentum in the fourth quarter and outscored the Nets 34-18. In the final minutes, the Rockets took the opportunities of the Nets’ slip ups to try and get a last second lead.

With 19 seconds to go, it looked to be over after a Dennis Smith Jr free-throw extended the lead to a five-point game. Alperen Sengun was fouled and managed to make both of his free-throws, then Amen Thompson stole a Nets’ inbound pass to hit a 3-pointer and cut their lead to a single-point game. The Nets were fortunate enough to have Thomas make his free-throws after getting fouled, and having Fred VanVleet making only one of his free-throws to secure the win for the Nets. 

For the Nets, Thomas led with 37 points, while Bridges had 19 points and five assists. Dorian Finney-Smith had 19 points, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks, while Claxton had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds, along with dishing out four assists. Dinwiddie had a near double-double with 10 points and nine assists. Off the bench, Royce O’Neale led with six points and six rebounds. 

For the Rockets, Jalen Green had a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Dillon Brooks also had 19 points and five rebounds. Sengun had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while VanVleet had 13 points and eight assists. Off the bench, Cam Whitmore led the way with 19 points and nine rebounds.

What’s next for the Nets?

What the Nets need to do right now is get their players conditioned and stay strong in the second half. Their second half holdouts have gotten slightly better, and are able to climb back out of deficits of their own, but it’s not enough. Despite the win, the Nets lost a 28-point lead to the Rockets and kept losing out on close games to other teams. This wasn’t the first time for them who allowed earth-scorching scoring runs as the Clippers were able to gain a win after outscoring the Nets 41-15 in the fourth quarter.

The Nets clearly can’t focus on getting back Ben Simmons and must rely on their current squad to grab some wins before the All-Star break. Trade rumors are rumbling in the Nets’ clubhouse, but those trades may not be groundbreaking for them and could look to grab some young talent as guys like Finney-Smith and Dinwiddie are rumored to be on the trading block. Who they plan to get in return for trading them remains to be seen as the Nets look to make a push for the playoffs in 2024.

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