The Brooklyn Nets came into this game on a four game losing streak. Tonight’s matchup was following a blowout loss to defending Western Conference Champion, Golden State Warriors in a game which the Nets were up by double digits at halftime. Trevor Booker sat out of Friday night’s contest to rest, and Isaiah Whitehead was sidelined with a foot injury.
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The Cavaliers were riding a three game winning streak coming into their battle with the Nets. Cleveland was coming of a home and home with the Milwaukee Bucks which resulted in two wins for the defending NBA champions.
The Nets issues started from the first possession in which Justin Hamilton, who was filling in for Booker in the starting lineup, threw a pass into the third row. The turnover theme continued throughout the first, as Cleveland had four takeaways in the first five minutes of the game. Hamilton failed to take advantage of one of his first starts as a Net, as he couldn’t connect on his first four shots. This continued his streak of missed three pointers to over 15.
As a result, the Cavaliers jumped out to an early 18-9 lead seven minutes into the game. The Cavs were able to build upon this lead after going on an 11-2 run throughout the middle of the first quarter. Tristan Thompson seemed to clean up every mistake made by Cleveland offensively as he had 10 points and six rebounds in the early going. The Cavs then proceeded to go on a 9-0 run to deplete the confidence Kenny Atkinson’s squad even further.
Spencer Dinwiddie checked into the game and provided some much needed aggressiveness on offense. However, this intensity didn’t spread to the rest of the team, as the Nets found themselves losing, 29-15 at the end of the first quarter.
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Brooklyn showed some signs of life to start the second. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson aggressively attacked the rim on offense, and Sean Kilpatrick chipped in some buckets as well. Yet, the Nets were not able to slow down the Cavaliers potent offense which was shooting 48 percent from the field. The Cavs then increased their lead to 20 off an easy layup from former Net, Richard Jefferson.
Of the Cavs 45 points midway through the second, 28 of them came in the paint. A couple of three pointers set the Cavs on a 14-2 run, resulting in an insurmountable deficit of 26 points. Cleveland had full control of the boards in the first half as they were out-rebounded Brooklyn by 10 by the four minute mark of the second quarter.
Brook Lopez became a bright spot for the Nets offensively. The seven-footer had 14 points and two three pointers in the first half. Despite this, Brooklyn had a crippling 11 turnovers in the first two quarters. The Cavaliers had the game all but won by halftime with a 66-40 advantage over the Nets.
LeBron James kicked off the second half by quickly increasing his team’s led to 30 on a crafty layup. The combination of Thompson and Kevin Love on the glass simply became too much for the Nets to handle. As a result, the Cavaliers lead continued to climb, marking one of Brooklyn’s biggest deficits of the season. Turnovers also continued to become a major issue for the Nets. The Cavaliers found 18 points off of Brooklyn’s turnovers by the midway point of the third quarter.
In sticking to theme of the night, Kyrie Irving found James on an alley-oop to increase the Cleveland lead to 40 points towards the tail end of the third. Tyronn Lue quickly began to clear his bench as it became clear that the Cavs had a chokehold on the game. This culminated in both teams putting in their third stringers by the end of the quarter.
With two minutes left in the third, Brooklyn was finally able to crack 50 points in total. The Cavs lead the Nets, 98-57 heading into the final quarter.
Hamilton finally began to gain some confidence by netting two easy buckets in the early portion of the fourth. The Nets built off of this spark and were able to cut the deficit to under 30. Brooklyn took advantage of the Cavs’ lack of size and as a result, increased their field goal percentage to over 40 percent. Chris McCullough then checked into the game and immediately made an impact by nailing a nifty 20 foot shot. This was McCullough’s first NBA minutes since December 1.
Brooklyn eventually trimmed the lead to less than 25 by the end of the fourth. However, the Cavaliers ultimately beat the Nets, 119-99.
LeBron James finished with 19 points and five boards, while Jeremy Lin finished with 10 points and six assists. Brooklyn will now head home for a matchup with Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets on Boxing Day.