The Brooklyn Nets are a tale of two teams.
There is the first-half Nets, who can compete and have a chance to beat any team in the NBA.
And then there’s the second-half Nets, who play like they’re still in the Lionel Hollins era — sorry, coach.
The Nets made their TNT debut Thursday night against the Denver Nuggets. At the half, the Nets led 61-49. Brooklyn dominated the paint, played excellent defense, made their shots, had excellent ball movement, and best of all, limited themselves to just three turnovers.
Dzanan Musa, Nic Claxton and Spencer Dinwiddie gave the Nets a much-needed lift off the bench, keeping the talented Denver bench in check.
But the positives abruptly ended as the second-quarter came to a close.
In the second half, the Nets only scored 32(!) points.
Yes, you read that correctly.
To put that abysmal number into perspective, the Nets scored 35 points in the first quarter alone.
Denver did play with more energy on defense, but this wasnot an all-time defensive performance by any means.
The Nets committed only four turnovers in the second half. Instead of turnovers plaguing Brooklyn, it was a stagnant offense that missed open shots, often times choosing a contested floater over a pass to an open man.
Needless to say, it was a frustrating two quarters to watch.
Defensively, the Nets were not terrible. Brooklyn’s defense never truly fell apart for an extended period of time. In fact, the Nets were down by just three points with just under four minutes left in the game.
Despite being in the game late, it felt as though the Nets never stood a chance after the third quarter.
Denver picked up the win, beating Brooklyn 101-93.
The loss makes it three straight defeats for the Nets, falling to 4-7. Brooklyn will head to Chicago for a Saturday evening matchup. This will be Brooklyn’s final game of the five-game road trip.
Earlier, it was announced that the Nets will be without Caris LeVert for reportedly 4-6 weeks due to a thumb ligament injury. The injury is similar to the one Dinwiddie suffered in the latter half of last season. Dinwiddie missed three weeks, but returned without skipping a beat.
The Nets signed veteran guard Iman Shumpert to replace the injured LeVert. Shumpert played a combined 62 games (42 starts) for the Kings and Rockets last season. While Shumpert was present at the game in Denver, he did not see any action.
Thursday night’s game was eerily similar to Brooklyn’s loss to Utah earlier in the week. The Nets led by double-digits at the half in both games, eventually falling apart in the third quarter.
The Nets need to avoid a total collapse, and all of a sudden, Saturday’s game feels like a must-win.
Kyrie Irving Point Guard
17 PTS, 8-20 FG, 1-5 3PT, 6 REB, 9 AST, 1 STL, 34 MIN
Kyrie Irving was a game-time decision with a shoulder injury.
Irving’s last two performances have been his worst in a Nets jersey, although it would be more than fair to ignore his stat line in Phoenix’s blowout of Brooklyn.
Irving dished out eight assists in the first half. But like his teammates, Irving struggled to get anything going in the second half.
This marks the second straight game that Irving could not make shots down the stretch.
Nonetheless, Irving will look to take advantage of a weak Bulls team on Saturday.
Spencer Dinwiddie Point Guard
17 PTS, 6-18 FG, 1-7 3PT, 4-5 FT, 1 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 34 MIN
With the injury to LeVert, Dinwiddie will need to step up his game. Since the road trip began, Dinwiddie has been Brooklyn’s best player. and he was excellent last season following LeVert’s foot injury.
On Thursday, Dinwiddie had a strong first half, but couldnot replicate his success in the second half.
Dinwiddie tied for the team-high in points tonight.
Jarrett Allen Center
17 PTS, 7-10 FG, 0-1 3PT, 3-5 FT, 10 REB, 1 BLK, 29 MIN
Since the Nets hit the road, Jarrett Allen has looked much more comfortable on both ends of the floor — aside from the foul trouble.
Allen committed zero fouls on Thursday, in addition to his efficient offensive output.
Allen bested Nikola Jokic on play after play in the first half. But Denver featured ex-Net Mason Plumlee far more in the second half — a key reason for Brooklyn’s offensive woes.
All in all, Allen played another solid game, despite his teammates’ struggles.
Joe Harris Shooting Guard
9 PTS, 4-11 FG, 1-4 3PT, 3 REB, 1 STL, 2 TO, 31 MIN
Joe Harris entered the night shooting 49.1% from deep. He led the NBA in the same category last season.
Harris made his lone three in the first half, as the shooter went quiet in the second half.
Harris was met with a strong presence at the rim. Many of his shots got contested and altered by Denver’s interior defense.
It may be time for Harris to add the floater to his repertoire.
Taurean Prince Small Forward
12 PTS, 5-15 3PT, 2-11 3PT, 8 REB, 2 AST, 1 TO, 27 MIN
Taurean Prince is shooting a career-high 43% from beyond the arc. Although, Prince’s defense has not been at the level it needs to be.
Prince’s 2-11 performance from beyond the arc was difficult to watch.
The forward missed his contested and open threes. And when Prince was not missing from deep, he was missing at the rim.
But hey, there is always next game.