First the Warriors at home. And then the Cavaliers on the road. And days before Christmas? Who are these cruel schedule makers?
Still, ever the optimist Kenny Atkinson told his guys before the game, “This is what you play for,” trying to keep a positive attitude during some very tough days for the rebuilding Brooklyn Nets. Unfortunately no wins were produced against these star-studded teams, but rather lessons learned for a young Nets team.
For Brooklyn, playing the best means playing some of your favorite childhood ballers. So yeah, we’re talking about guys like Kevin Durant, who they faced Thursday, or LeBron James, who they faced Friday.
Less than 24 hours after blowing a 16-point lead against Golden State, the Nets got their heads (and arms and legs) handed to them by the defending champion Cavaliers. Cleveland (22-6) clobbered Brooklyn (7-22), 119-99 in an ugly one-sided affair. Prior to Friday, the Nets had scored 100+ points in 10 straight games. They couldn’t even make that milestone Friday.
The game was 9-8 in favor of the hopeful Nets when Cleveland went on a 10-0 run and started the ugly rout. They extended the run and eventually took a 16-point lead in the first quarter.
The Cavs never looked back.
It was spurt after spurt, run after run, as the Cavaliers’ largest lead of the first half was extended to 29. They outscored the Nets 37-23 in the second quarter and led 66-40 at the half.
No fight, none of that Brooklyn grit was seen in the second half. Cleveland extended their lead to 46 late in the third following a 32-17 advantage in the third quarter.
Fatigue was certainly a factor for the Nets, but did it really matter? After all, the Cavaliers are the defending champs and currently the best team in the Eastern Conference. Both of these franchises, the Warriors and Cavaliers, are simply on different paths… clearly.
Atkinson took some positives out of the game, saying some of the Nets young guys got some good burn. he specifically named Spencer Dinwiddie and Anthony Bennett. Caris LeVert also had a good long stretch, playing 23 minutes, the most he’s put up since returning from injury, . He finished with nine points, including two three-pointers, grabbed seven boards and handed out two assists.
“I love how hard he plays. Good for him to see a few shots go down,” said Atkinson. “That’s a positive we get out of this game.”
ROAD WOES: The Nets, losers of five straight, are now 1-14 on the road and 8-48 over their last 56 away games in the past two seasons. They haven’t won a road game against an Eastern Conference team since January 2, 2016against the Boston Celtics.
Cleveland, on the other hand, have won four straight and nine of the last 10. Tristan Thompson finished with a double double of 16 points and 11 rebounds and LeBron James had a line of 19 points, five rebounds, six assists and three steals. Kyrie Irving almost had a triple double with 13 points, 10 assists and SIX steals.
Brook Lopez led the Nets with 16 points and two blocks. Spencer Dinwiddie chipped in 13 off the bench, while Jeremy Lin had 10 points, six assists and five turnovers in 25 minutes. Brooklyn shot 44 % (8-of-30 from 3-point) and committed an ugly 19 turnovers. They committed a season-high 26 turnovers Thursday. It’s hard to remember a worse stretch of poor ball-handling by the Nets, whether they called Brooklyn or New Jersey their home..
BROOKLYN INACTIVES: Trevor Booker (rest) and Isaiah Whitehead (foot soreness) were off. Chris McCullough, on the other hand, was active and played seven minutes, his first time with Brooklyn since December 1. He’s spent most of his time in the D-League.
RING TONE: Former Cavs assistant coach — and current Nets assistant coach — Bret Brielmaier — received his Championship Ring and a bear hug from Richard Jefferson. Two other Nets —Joe Harris and Trajan Langdon— were with the Cavs last year.
From all the writers here at NetsDaily, we’d like to wish everybody a Happy and safe holiday weekend. The Nets will return to action on Monday against the Charlotte Hornets.