Brooklyn’s poor effort against sub-.500 teams is growing to be a legitimate problem.
In a game they trailed by as many as 20 points, the Nets extended their losing streak to a season-high three games in a 122-111 defeat to the Pistons on Tuesday. Detroit led nearly wire-to-wire after entering the game with the worst record in the league (5-18).
The warning signs were there from the beginning. Joe Harris opened the game with a three-pointer, but the Pistons quickly shot ahead with a 13-0 burst — and Brooklyn never fully rebounded.
The Pistons built their largest lead in the second quarter, but the Nets showed life in the third as they widdled that down to two points. Brooklyn was within a possession of Detroit multiple times in the third quarter but could not match the Pistons’ energy and effort in the fourth.
Common themes continued to plague the Nets: turnovers, interior defense and rebounds — particularly offensive. The Pistons recorded 22 points off 14 Nets turnovers and out-scored Brooklyn in the paint, 58-56.
Brooklyn did limit Detroit to 18 points in the paint in the second half, but they made the Pistons look like the best scorers in the league. Detroit entered the game averaging 42.8% shooting but shot 56.0% (!) against the Nets.
There is no way around it: This loss is deflating. Yes, the Nets were without Kevin Durant, but that should not mean being out-played for 47 minutes against the team with the worst record in the league — especially after two days off.
The Nets had their opportunities, but no one emerged to take over the game. Kyrie Irving looked as if his finger bothered him down the stretch while James Harden had just 14 shot attempts. Landry Shamet was 2-2 from three with 10 points off the bench.
Jerami Grant led the Pistons with 32 points while Delon Wright added 22. Saddiq Bey, Brooklyn’s former draft pick, was also a key player in the second half with 15 points.
Brooklyn is 7-1 against teams over .500 and 7-11 against teams below. That is just not a sustainable trend for a team with clear championship aspirations.
Frustrations abound, the Nets need to find their fire. As Steve Nash said after the game, “It’s about personal pride… We have to decide what kind of team we want to be.”
They have another chance against the Pacers on Wednesday.
Kyrie Irving Point Guard
27 PTS, 12-28 FG, 2-9 3PT, 1-1 FT, 2 REB, 7 AST, 2 STL, 1 TO, 35 MIN
Kyrie’s 12-point third quarter brought the Nets back into the conversation against the Pistons. Then he had just two points in the fourth.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) February 10, 2021
Kyrie was coming off extended rest after missing last game with his sprained finger. Today, the finger was wrapped, but he did not look fully like himself.
Kyrie struggled especially from distance. His three-pointer in the third quarter pulled the Nets within two of the Pistons, and it almost seemed as if it would act as a momentum-changer, but lack of defensive effort kept Detroit in front. The impact of Kyrie’s finger injury will be important to watch going forward, especially with the Nets playing Wednesday.
James Harden Point Guard
24 PTS, 8-14 FG, 1-4 3PT, 7-7 FT, 6 REB, 12 AST, 2 STL, 5 BLK, 6 TO, 39 MIN
James Harden had his balance of good and bad contributions.
The good: He kept the offense moving with 12 assists. The bad: he had six turnovers.
The good: He had five blocks. The bad: He had just 14 field goal attempts and one three-pointer.
In many ways, Harden helps set the tone for the Nets to start the game, and Brooklyn’s poor start against the Pistons is what ultimately did them in on Tuesday. The little things add up, especially the turnovers — and Harden needs to be more aggressive offensively with Durant out.
Jeff Green Power Forward
10 PTS, 4-9 FG, 1-3 3PT, 1-1 FT, 2 REB, 1 TO, 29 MIN
Jeff Green struggled to match up against Detroit as the Pistons dominated inside. He provided a bit of an offensive boost but missed on some three-pointers that could have helped shift momentum.
Green was swapped at halftime for Bruce Brown, and that switch paid dividends as Brown provided an energy boost. If Green stays in the starting lineup, he needs to come out with more intensity alongside his teammates.
DeAndre Jordan Center
9 PTS, 4-5 FG, 1-1 FT, 8 REB, 2 AST, 1 BLK, 5 TO, 23 MIN
A lot of DeAndre’s night was… not great.
From the beginning, DeAndre was seen getting talked to during timeouts by both Harden and coach Steve Nash. The frustration grew as the Pistons continuously attacked the paint with ease and recorded 40 points inside in the first half alone.
Harden was trying to coach his new team after trailing early vs. Detroit. pic.twitter.com/mSpVQo17oo
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 10, 2021
It’s clear: The Nets need help inside. More offensive rebounds. More defensive help. DeAndre knows Brooklyn needs more, but the question grows each game as to whether he can be the one to give the effort.
Bruce Brown Shooting Guard
8 PTS, 3-8 FG, 0-2 3PT, 2-2 FT, 9 REB, 1 AST, 4 STL, 26 MIN
Bruce Brown was Brooklyn’s defensive warrior.
No quit 💪 pic.twitter.com/T3cwTLGoGp
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) February 10, 2021
Brown gave the Nets some life with his offensive boards (4) and steals (4). Particularly after he started at halftime, Brown gave the Nets an energy boost as they cut the deficit down to two.
The Nets need more of that effort all around. Brooklyn is lucky to have a gritty guy like Brown around to give them a chance even when the effort level is low across the board.