BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The Brooklyn Nets are learning that no matter how hard you may fight, no matter how much grit you may show, those with overarching talent will most likely prevail … no matter what.
They’ve gotten their fair share of such lessons this season, most recently on Tuesday against the Toronto Raptors with a 116-104 loss on the road.
The next step: the Golden State Warriors, the talk of the NBA the past couple of seasons, loaded with the superstar talents of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
Although Green was inactive on Thursday (for the birth of his son back in California), the Warriors (26-4) won their 11th straight game, 117-101, over the Brooklyn Nets (7-21), Thursday night at Barclays Center. The Nets have dropped four straight games.
It was a fun first half for Brooklyn, indeed their best of the season, but the third quarter woes and superior talent did them in… again. They were outscored 39-19 in the third and 68-36 in the second half and lost by 18.
Here’s how it went down…
It didn’t seem real. The Nets came out of the gate and kept hitting three after three after three. They nailed seven total in the first quarter and actually led, 34-33.
The Nets went up by 12, then 14 and then 16 heading into the halftime break behind a 21-point quarter from Brook Lopez and eight assists from Jeremy Lin. As a whole, they shot 48 percent and 9-of-20 from 3-point. The defense held Steph Curry to just seven points. The Warriors couldn’t hit a thing and the Nets grabbed more their fair share of offensive rebounds, racking up 14 fast break points.
Halftime score was 65-49, Nets. Yes you read that correct.
But you probably wish you didn’t. The Warriors went on a 10-0 run right out of the gate, a 21-5 extended run that tied the game for Golden State seven minutes into the second half. Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant score 11 apiece, as Golden State outscored the Nets 39-19 in the quarter and held a 4-point lead entering the fourth.
Lopez, who scored 23 in the first half, was held to just two in the third quarter. He was the dominant force in Brooklyn’s offense and without his attack, the Nets struggled to score.
Their main issue (as per usual) was the defense —or lack of same, and turnovers —too many to count. Golden State held a 22-11 advantage in the fourth and the Nets’ deficit was suddenly 15 with less than four minutes remaining.
Hey, at least they made it fun.
The Nets turned the ball over 18 times in the second half (a total of 26 for the game, the most in their five seasons in Brooklyn) and shot just 4-of-15 from 3-point after shooting 9-of-20 in the first half.
Lopez finished with 28 points and grabbed eight rebounds, but he scored only five points in the second half and turned the ball over six times.
The defensive scheme was simple: “They came real hard at one point and trapped,” Lopez said of Golden State’s third quarter adjustments.
Jeremy Lin scored 10 and delivered a season-high 11 assists and was two rebounds shy of a triple double, while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had another aggressive outing with 13 points, six rebounds and two steals off the bench.
“We all just start with belief. We all put our work in,” Lopez said. “It’s just a matter of going out there and doing the right stuff for 48 minutes.”
For Golden State, Kevin Durant finished 26 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Klay Thompson dropped 23 and Steph Curry was somewhat quiet with 15 points.
The Warriors shot 45 percent from the field for the game but the big difference was their 19 steals, which led to 28 fastbreak points. It was bound to be. The Nets lead the NBA in turnovers, the Warriors in steals.
“They were really aggressive on the defensive end, and we have to do a better job of protecting the ball,” Atkinson said of the second half. Obviously, that was kind of the story there, and again I like to give them credit. They really turned it up and they were flooding the paint on our drives, switching our pick and rolls, and we just have to do a better job of protecting it, moving it, playing with the pass — all the thing we talked about.”
Next up: Cleveland Cavaliers, Friday.