Brooklyn Nets Thanksgiving Weekend Recap
It’s been a tough slate for the Brooklyn Nets to begin the new season, with 11 of their first 17 games being played on the road.
Two of those road contests were played over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend against two of the best teams in the NBA. The Nets suffered a 110-99 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night, and were edged by the Cleveland Cavaliers 90-88 on Saturday night. Brooklyn closed out the weekend with a home victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday evening.
I offer a deeper look into each of those games:
Against the Thunder, the Nets exploded out of the gate. They led for a large part of the first half, before Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook took the game over. Durant scored 17 of his 30 points in the game’s final 20 minutes, while Westbrook added 27 points and 13 assists overall.
The Nets fought back to tie the game at 85 with 8:09 remaining. Durant hit two 3-pointers and assisted on a third to give the Thunder a nine-point lead which they would never relinquish. It was the first time the Nets lost in Oklahoma City since moving to Brooklyn. Brook Lopez scored 26 points to lead the Nets.
Things were much more interesting on Saturday in their clash with the Cavaliers. Brooklyn opened up a double digit lead in the first quarter, and led by six at the half before Cleveland mounted its comeback. The game was tied at 88 before LeBron James sank a game-winning floater with one second remaining as the Cavs topped the Nets 90-88.
Over the Nets’ final 10 possessions in the fourth quarter, they scored a total of five points. All of which came on made free throws. That effort will never be enough to defeat a team like the Cavaliers. Lopez led the Nets once again with 22 points, while Joe Johnson added 17 in the loss. The Nets fell to 1-10 on the road.
The NBA announced on Sunday that the referees incorrectly called two plays that went against the Nets, both involving James. The first call was an offensive foul on Lopez while he was being hooked by LeBron. The league announced that the correct call would have been a “double foul,” with the Nets retaining possession.
The second call came with 55 seconds remaining and the Nets down one. James slapped the basketball out of Lopez’s hands, forcing a turnover. Video replay showed his arm coming down on Lopez’s arm, which should have resulted in a foul call on James. Both of these calls might have affected the outcome of the game, which the Nets only lost by two points.
The Nets showed in both of these road losses that they are a good first half team. They have to start playing more consistently in the second halves of games if they want to earn a few more victories.
Brooklyn came home on Sunday and took their frustrations out on the Pistons, who are one of the surprise teams in the East this season. Thaddeus Young had 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Wayne Ellington scored a season-high 12 in the Nets’ 87-83 victory. They now sit at 4-13 on the season.
They trailed by 2 with 1:21 remaining, but scored the game’s final six points to secure the victory. The Pistons shot just 34 percent from the floor in the loss.
After an abysmal start to the season, recent games have indicated that the Nets can play with some of the better teams in the league. They’ve been in more close games than blowouts, and their win over the Pistons improved them to 3-5 in games that were within five points in the final five minutes. The starters have played much better since Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was inserted into the lineup, but the bench has to be more consistent after giving up leads in several fourth quarters.
Their schedule also becomes slightly more favorable as they enter December. They do not play a game outside of New York City until December 18, beginning with a home game against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.