Brooklyn Nets

Nets squeeze past Phoenix Suns, but suffer defeat against other Western teams  

The Brooklyn Nets grabbed one win, but fell to three other Western Conference teams as they traveled to the West Coast this past week. The trip was a test to see how this rebuilding squad can fare against the teams in the other conference. It’s clear this Nets team is very outmatched against the top of the Western Conference.

Brooklyn prepared for such intense competition, but grabbed a win against the Phoenix Suns. The Nets have heart and passion, but not enough growth and talent as a team yet to stand toe-to-toe against the West.  The Nets are currently 13-12 and are now ninth in the Eastern Conference. 

The Nets could not stop the Sacramento Kings in a 131-118 loss that was led by a franchise record of 3-pointers for the Kings with 25. The Kings had shot 25 of 45 (55.6%) from the 3-point line, looking unstoppable from the perimeter. The Nets trailed throughout the majority of the game but had moments in the later quarters where the Nets had opportunities to take the lead. Throughout the second half, the Nets pulled themselves back from a deficit but could not take the lead as the Kings answered back. A 3-pointer from Mikal Bridges in the fourth quarter put the deficit at a six-point game with the score at 110-104.

However, the Kings were able to answer back again to prevent their lead from slipping with a barrage of 3-pointers. The Kings’ showered the Nets in points and in a matter of minutes, turned a six point lead into a 20-point lead with about three minutes left to go in the game. The Kings swiftly took the win over the Nets in what was an offensive clinic for the Kings. 

For the Nets, Bridges led the way with 22 points, five rebounds and five assists. Cam Thomas put up 20 points, while Spencer Dinwiddie had 16 points and eight rebounds. Cam Johnson had 15 points and four rebounds, while Nicolas Claxton had eight points and 10 rebounds. Off the bench, Dorian Finney-Smith led with 13 points and two blocks. 

For the Kings, De’Aaron Fox had 29 points on 5-10 shooting from the 3-point line, along with eight assists, while Keegan Murray had 24 points on 4-4 shooting from the 3-point line. Domantas Sabonis was an assist shot of a triple-double as he finished off with 15 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists, along with two steals. Harrison Barnes had 14 points. Off the bench, Malik Monk had 21 points and nine rebounds, while Trey Lyles had 17 points and six rebounds. 

The Nets managed to spoil the debut of the superstar trio in Phoenix as the Nets took a 116-112 victory over the Phoenix Suns. The Suns, who were able to acquire Bradley Beal in an offseason trade this past summer, were finally able to get their stars on the court together for the first time. They struggled to put the three superstars together primarily due to injuries, with Devin Booker getting injured last month, and Beal being out as well because of his injuries as well.

The Nets took advantage of the trio’s lack of playing time together as they were able to take control of the game and lead by as much as 15 in the first half of the game. The Suns were able to get themselves together and stay composed as they were able to cut down the lead and trail by single digits to end the second quarter. The teams were equally matched in the third quarter, with neither team garnering a large lead against one another, and the Suns being able to take a lead at the end of the third quarter.

The game remained close throughout the entirety of the fourth quarter, but a blunder in the final seconds had the win stripped away from the Suns. With seven seconds remaining, Jordan Goodwin managed to steal an inbound pass but Booker failed to secure the ball after trying to get the ball from Goodwin, causing a steal for the Nets. Thomas was fouled and sent to the line where he secured the win after hitting a pair of free-throws.   

For the Nets, Thomas led with 24 points and four assists, while Bridges also topped the 20-point mark with 21 points. Dinwiddie put up 16 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals, while Claxton had 14 points and seven rebounds. Off the bench, Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale led with eight points apiece. 

For the Suns, Booker led with a double-double with 34 points and 12 assists, along with six rebounds. Durant had 27 points, six rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Jusuf Nurkic had a double-double with 15 points and 22 rebounds, including two blocks. Off the bench, Nassir Little led the way off the bench with 10 points and seven rebounds. 

The Nets had a hard battle to face on Thursday as they took a 124-101 loss to the well rested Denver Nuggets. The Nets faced off against the Nuggets after squeezing out a win against the Phoenix Suns the day prior. They struggled against the reigning NBA champions, with Nikola Jokic obtaining a triple-double, which made it his tenth triple-double and his seventh straight season with at least ten triple-doubles in the regular season.

The Nets just did not have it in them to stop the Nuggets on either side of the ball, being allowed only 39 points in the first half, and could not catch up against the aggressive 1-2 punch of Jamal Murray and Jokic. This win for the Nuggets made it their third consecutive win and added another loss to the Nets’ record.

For the Nets, Dinwiddie led the team in scoring with 17 points, four rebounds and eight assists, while Thomas had 13 points. Claxton had a near double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds, while Johnson had 10 points. Off the bench, Harry Giles III had 11 points and  six rebounds, while Day’Ron Sharpe had eight points, 13 rebounds and five assists. 

For the Nuggets, Jokic had a triple-double with 26 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists. Murray put up 16 points, while Aaron Gordon had 13 points. Off the bench, Peyton Watson had 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Reggie Jackson had 12 points and four assists.

Despite a tumultuous week for the Golden State Warriors with the suspension of Draymond Green, they pulled out a 124-120 win against the Nets thanks to the help from their star player in Stephen Curry. The Nets were barely holding onto a one point lead midway through the fourth quarter when Curry decided to turn it on and scored back-to-back three-pointers to give the Warriors the lead.

Those back-to-back three-pointers were part of his offensive performance where he scored a total of 12 straight points in the fourth quarter to carry the Warriors to victory. His fellow splash brother Klay Thompson helped assert dominance on the offensive end with back-to-back three-pointers of his own. The Nets, despite a 41-point performance from Thomas, could not contain the superstar duo in the closing minutes and took their second straight loss. 

For the Nets, Thomas led with 41 points and five rebounds. Claxton had a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds, along with four blocks, while Bridges had 18 points and eight rebounds. Dinwiddie also had a double-double with 16 points and 14 assists, along with five rebounds, while Johnson had 13 points and five assists. Off the bench, O’Neale led with 11 points and five rebounds. 

For the Warriors, Curry poured in 37 points on 6-8 from the 3-point line, while Thompson put up 24 points and five rebounds. Brandin Podziemski filled up the stat sheet with 19 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Jonathan Kuminga had 10 points and four rebounds. Off the bench, Andrew Wiggins led the scoring with 14 points and five rebounds. Dario Saric put up 12 points and six rebounds, while Chris Paul had two points, 11 assists and four rebounds. 

The Nets had a tough week against the dominant Western Conference teams, despite squeezing out a win against the Phoenix Suns. The Nets struggle to face up against very all-star heavy dominant teams like the Warriors and Nuggets who are able to rely on their stars to keep the team alive and take over the game, sometimes both at the same time. The Nets’ All-Star problem is a very evident issue, especially when facing up against other teams who have established superstars such as Curry or Jokic.

Although Bridges has a chance of being an All-Star this season, he is unfortunately not at the caliber of the formerly mentioned names, and neither is Ben Simmons, who is still out due to injury. The Nets still need time to grow as a team and need to either build another all-star in the future or acquire an established all-star level player to compete against the teams out in the West.