It was more than a loss to the Brooklyn Sunday record books.
Without James Harden and Kevin Durant, the Nets fell behind early and could not overcome the deficit, losing to the Bulls, 115-107.
The Nets, who entered the fourth 17 points behind, played a seven-point game on a late push in the fourth with their sights set on escaping with a win, just as they did twice last week. I was not so lucky this time.
The Bulls had a great offensive rebound that resulted in Zach LaVine burying a 26-foot dagger three to put the Bulls up seven with 1:22 to play. LaVine finished with 25 points in 35 minutes for Chicago. Steve Nash made the headlines with 48.1 seconds remaining as the Bulls escaped with the win to improve to 20-28 on the year, ending a six-game losing streak.
“We weren’t very smart tonight. I didn’t throw the ball particularly well and I didn’t have the pace required for our team to be dynamic offensively, but more importantly, I thought we had to be more active defensively, ”Nash said. “Be more decisive and play at your own pace tonight. It wasn’t a great performance from us, but we will learn from it and move on. ”
With the loss, the Nets fall to 34-16 on the season and fall to second place in the Eastern Conference standings. Outside of a loss in qualifying, the game included a few other losses.
Brooklyn faced two injury scares in the fourth. TylerJohnson appeared to hurt his right knee running down the court, a non-contact injury. Johnson was helped to the bench by Alize Johnson and Timothe Luawau-Cabarrot, barely putting pressure on his knee. The Nets’ combined guard walked under his own power to the locker room, but walked very carefully. Brooklyn ruled Johnson for the remainder of the game with a right knee strain. He finished with two points in 14 minutes.
After Johnson’s departure, Shamet appeared to twist his right ankle, the same ankle that caused him to miss five games, was substituted and did not return to the game.
“We will see how they look in the morning. Tyler will have a knee evaluation and probably a scan, but we don’t have updates, ”Nash said. “We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
All five Nets starters finished in double figures. Kyrie Irving paved the way for Brooklyn to score 24 points along with 15 assists and two rebounds in 39 minutes. Irving had trouble shooting the ball, hitting 12 of 27 from the field and 0 of 4 from deep.
Jeff Green had another great game for Brooklyn, as he finished with 21 points, two assists and a rebound in 25 minutes from the bench. The Nets ended the loss shooting 48.4 percent overall and 39.3 percent from deep.
“I think we just missed shots to be honest,” Green said of the loss.
For Chicago, Nikola Vucevic continued his terror on the Nets for the first time in a Bulls uniform. The center registered 22 points and 13 rebounds on 10 of 17 shots in 32 minutes as Chicago finished the win with 55.1 percent overall and 36.4 percent from deep. In four games against Brooklyn, Vucevic is averaging 26.3 points and 13.3 rebounds.
The Nets opened the contest by missing their first six shots, but Blake Griffin put the Nets on the board with a nifty and a post followed by three straight shots to tie the game.
Brooklyn’s offense was flowing. LaMarcus Aldridge and Griffin carried the load, taking advantage of their ability to space the floor. The frontcourt duo, both starters, scored 13 of the Nets’ 28 points in the first quarter, but Chicago got a boost late in the period to cut the deficit to three as the Nets headed to second with a lead. from 28-25. Brooklyn’s biggest lead was nine points, as the team shot 45.8 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from deep.
The Bulls opened the second by cutting the deficit to one and tied the score at 31 with 7:52 left. Both teams began to find an offensive rhythm, exchanging baskets along the way. For the Nets, Irving put on a show in the second, including a spectacular left-footed shot from the foul line and a handful of clever finishes to end the first half with 10 points and five assists in 18 minutes. .
Chicago had stops and at the other end, forged a 22-9 that spanned more than five minutes to close out the second with a 57-46 lead. The Nets cooled down late, ending the first half shooting 41.3 percent from the field, but struggled from behind the arc, shooting 28.6 percent (4 of 14).
“I didn’t like it very much. I thought we didn’t play with enough pace and not enough movement or activity, ”Nash said of the close of the first half. “We had a hard time spacing them because we were a bit stuck. We played in tight spaces instead of having them score in large spaces. It wasn’t a great offensive performance on our part tonight. Part of that is shooting, but more is played at that rate. ”
The Bulls came out of the locker room splitting the score as they mixed into two 3-pointers to increase their lead to 15 when Nash called an early timeout with 8:48 left. The Nets, who had trouble shooting in the third, forged a 9-0 scoring run to cut the deficit to 11, but Chicago continued to respond to Brooklyn’s runs to enter the final 12 minutes of play with an advantage. of 89-72.
Nash played Chris Chiozza, Alize Johnson and Nic Claxton, along with Landry Shamet and Jeff Green, who started the fourth with three in a row, contributing to an 8-0 run to reduce the Bulls’ lead to nine, which led Billy Donovan to call a timeout with 10:42 remaining.
After Johnson and Shamet’s injuries, the Nets put up a late-game effort looking to overcome a game-wide deficit, forging an 11-2 run to cut the deficit to seven, but couldn’t walk away with the comeback win. in the end.
The movie theater
Before the game, Steve Nash expressed some optimism about playing LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin together.
“I think LaMarcus and Blake could play very well together. It is still very early. We would like to look at different things. But those two can certainly play together, as they can both stretch the floor and they can both post. Blake can play make and LaMarcus is a good passer from the post, ”explained Nash. “I think there is a possibility that it is a combination in certain scenarios.”
Soon after, the Brooklyn starting lineup of Kyrie Irving, Bruce Brown, Joe Harris, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge was announced. And while that lineup certainly has its positives – that is, plenty of scoring and pick-and-pop options galore – it’s SLOW too. WHAT. MOLASSES. The numbers support that claim; A tip for John Schuhmann, but the Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge pairing produced a net score of -19.5 in the 22 minutes of flat-share time. OMG!
Nash, always on the lookout for whether an experiment has gone right or wrong, quickly changed his stance on that pairing after the game.
“We experimented with the great lineup,” Nash said after the loss. “Very different from us in some ways. I don’t love it for us. Having said that, it’s hard to judge from a performance … In the future, that’s not something I think we’ll see a lot of. “
Plus, with Aldridge, Irving and Aldridge, Brooklyn’s top three creators given the short-staffed roster, all in the same lineup, this meant Nash’s bench unit wasn’t exactly packed with offensive punches. Who exactly is the best scorer in a group of Jeff Green, Nicolas Claxton, Landry Shamet, Tyler Johnson and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot? Shamet, right?
The result was a sloppy game from a unit that didn’t have much to offer.
Look, it’s the first game in a back-to-back, and the Nets are currently running heavily on their reserves with Kevin Durant and James Harden out of the fold. So you can’t blame Steve Nash for trying things out, mixing and matching combinations with his new players. But this was a failure. In the next.
Steve Nash on ruling out James Harden: ‘It’s just a precaution’
Before Sunday’s game against the Bulls, Steve Nash said he held James Harden against the Bulls as a precaution, as he missed his second straight game with a strained right hamstring.
“It’s just a precaution. If this was a playoff game, I’m pretty sure he’d be here with us, but I think we all wanted to be cautious and give him a chance to rest one more day, ”Nash said. “Make sure it’s as cured as possible. We are trying to make a measured decision. ”
Neither Harden nor Kevin Durant traveled with the Nets to Chicago for Sunday’s game. Instead, both superstars are back in Brooklyn working with the performance team on their respective makeovers.
“They are exercising at home today. We left some of the staff behind to work with them to save them the trip. ”
Reducing the size of the section had a cost
The Nets were small down the stretch, replacing Joe Harris with Nicolas Claxton at the 9:26 mark in the fourth quarter, thus sliding Jeff Green into center position. This was likely done to go “on the offensive” and pull the Nets out of a 13-point deficit.
But what this meant for the Nets is that Nicolas Claxton only played 8 minutes in total after his big month of March, in which the 21-year-old averaged 20.2 minutes per game. For reference, he played just 14 minutes against the Charlotte Hornets, the first game since signing LaMarcus Aldridge. There is no reason to raise the alarm yet, but it is already something to watch.
His time in the room (or lack thereof) earned him some commentary from some of the best and brightest in the industry.
It seems like today is the day that fears of Nic Claxton wasting playtime come true.
– John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) April 4, 2021
Still, Claxton earned recognition from his new teammate Blake Griffin after the game.
“Nic’s energy is just incredible,” said Griffin of Clax. “He goes and gets rebounds that he doesn’t have to, he can sit down and score 1-5, and then he does a great job finishing.”
As said before, it is something to watch. Nothing to be scared of. It is worth monitoring.
Or as SpongeBob would say …
By Will Hanley …
The Nets will return to action on Monday when the team host the New York Knicks at the Barclays Center. The game is scheduled to tilt at 7:00 PM ET.
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