Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Nets, missing two stars, get blown out by Thunder

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

One game after the Nets’ Big 3 posted their most impressive win together since Kyrie Irving returned last week from COVID exile, they were down to just one superstar Thursday night against the Thunder. 

On the one-year anniversary of the trade with the Rockets that brought James Harden to Brooklyn, he couldn’t front a lineup without Irving (due to New York City’s COVID vaccination mandates) and a resting Kevin Durant to victory on the Nets’ home court. 

Harden’s 26 points and nine assists weren’t nearly enough as the road-weary and undermanned Nets were pounded, 130-109, by the Thunder at Barclays Center for their sixth loss in nine games to reach the midway point of the season with a 26-15 mark. 

The nine-time All-Star certainly sounded frustrated about all of the roster uncertainty surrounding his would-be championship contenders. 

“It feels different when we’ve got everybody there. Like, [Wednesday] night was just how it’s supposed to be the majority of the time,” Harden said, referring to the Nets’ blowout win Wednesday night at Eastern Conference-leading Chicago. “But we’re dealing with whatever we’re dealing with, so we’ve got to just go with the flow and figure it out game by game. 

James Harden, who scored 26 points, drives to the basket during the Nets’ 130-109 loss to the Thunder.
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

“Ideally, we would love to have [Wednesday’s] team every single game and then see how we can engage ourselves, see what we can get better at, see what we’re not great at. But it’s kind of hard to tell because we’ve got different lineups every game. We’ve just got to keep pushing, I guess.” 

Irving was back out of the lineup again due to New York City’s COVID-19 mandates after he played this week at Portland and Chicago. Harden had joked after the Nets’ win Wednesday over the Bulls that he was “gonna give [Irving] the shot” for availability at home games, but coach Steve Nash said again there has been no change in Irving’s status. 

“I think as coaches we’re constantly analyzing ourselves and so, that is true. We haven’t had our whole group,” Nash said. “We’re better when we have our whole group. In almost all scenarios. Having said that, there’s slippage since we came back from the COVID break. 

Kevin Durant, who received a workload off day, looks on during the Nets' loss.
Kevin Durant, who received a workload off day, looks on during the Nets’ loss.
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

“Obviously we’re always looking at the details, always looking at things that have slipped and things that we need to get back on top of.” 

The Nets looked every bit like an undermanned squad playing its fourth game in five nights when they allowed the Thunder to pour in 70 points in the first half, while nailing 11 of 24 from long distance in the first half (20-for-45 overall) and carrying a 19-point advantage into intermission. 

The Nets closed a 22-point hole to 10 in the third quarter, with David Duke Jr. (13 points) nailing a couple of long-range shots and Bruce Brown also contributing six points in the session. But Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (game-high 33 points) and Darius Bazley (16) combined for 11 points in a 15-8 run to close the quarter for a 100-83 Thunder advantage entering the final period. 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored a game-high 33 points.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Harden connected on just seven of 22 attempts from the floor for the game, but he drained a pair of 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter to key a 13-4 spurt, capped by a lefty drive from Cam Thomas (21 points) and the Nets closed within 104-96 with 8:28 remaining. 

The Thunder (14-27) responded with long-range buckets from rookie Josh Giddey (19 points), Luguentz Dort (27) and Gilgeous-Alexander to push the lead back to 18 with 5:30 to go. 

“I would describe it as a whirlwind. It’s something new every single day,” Harden said of the first half of the season. “It’s pretty difficult, but we just deal with it internally and we just keep going. 

“Hopefully towards the end of the season or even after the All-Star break and hopefully sooner than that, we can have our full roster and catch a real rhythm to where we know what the hell we’ve got in this locker room.”

Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *