A hectic scoring frenzy took place in Brooklyn on Black Friday, but the Nets were not the victor.
After being knotted up at 92 after three quarters of play, the Portland Trail Blazers outscored Brooklyn 35-33 in the fourth to take the matinee win Friday, 127-125.
This result came down to a scrambling end-of-game comeback from Portland after Brooklyn led for the majority of the fourth.
Lillard was quiet in the fourth quarter, but Brooklyn had difficulty building a significant lead. With a one-point lead with one minute to go, Brooklyn turned the ball over and gave Shabazz Napier an and-one play to extend Portland’s run to 8-0.
After a Spencer Dinwiddie layup and Caris LeVert steal, Nurkic stole the ball to give Portland a 126-123 lead with 27 seconds to go. Allen had a pretty feed to Dinwiddie in the paint to come within one, but C.J. McCollum later made one of two free throws to give Portland a 127-125 lead with 11 seconds to go.
Dinwiddie pulled up from three to give the Nets the lead, but the ball was an inch short. After making four threes on the night, he was not able to make one more to put the Nets ahead.
The players were as visibly devastated after a loss as I’ve seen them this season. Portland missed a few free throws to give Brooklyn second chances, but the Nets could not execute.
While Brooklyn’s bench provided good minutes, this game revolved the team’s starters. For the first time this season, all five Nets starters scored in double figures, and that feat was notched during the third quarter.
The Nets used the first quarter to set their pace, out-scoring Portland 32-23 on 60 percent shooting. DeMarre Carroll and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson paced the team with six points each.
Brooklyn also scored 20 of its first-quarter points in the paint, an early advantage over Portland’s eight. The Trail Blazers ended up catching up in that category, with Brooklyn ultimately winning with a season-high, resulting in a 66-60 advantage.
A game of season-highs was extended into Brooklyn’s offense, as eight players put up double figures in scoring. Spencer Dinwiddie really heated up in the second half and finished with 23 points to lead the team. The team also recorded a season-high in second-chance points (22).
Dinwiddie recorded zero turnovers on the night, along with six assists, and both teams kept the giveaways to a minimum. The Nets had two turnovers at the end of the game, though, that proved costly.
Today’s bench rotation for Brooklyn consisted of Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen, Trevor Booker, Caris LeVert and Sean Kilpatrick, all putting in impressive minutes. Booker nearly recorded a double-double (10 points, eight rebounds) back from injury, and Jarrett Allen nearly notched one as well.
While C.J. McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and Damian Lillard combined for 89 points, Brooklyn’s bench was able to out-shine Portland’s with a 53-27 advantage. That was not enough for Brooklyn to edge out the Trail Blazers, though, as Portland’s big three got the job done.
The loss to Portland is Brooklyn’s third close loss in a row, the past two coming against the Warriors and Cavaliers. Now, all the team can do is continue the grind and look to close out games.
Tough loss against Portland, but the Grizzlies provide a fresh slate for Brooklyn come Sunday.
Tyler Zeller Center
10 PTS, 4-8 FG, 0-1 3FG, 2-2 FT, 3 REB, 1 AST, 1 BLK, 19 MIN
Tyler Zeller was placed in the starting lineup again with Booker coming off the bench in the first game back from his injury. Even though he logged just 19 minutes, he was effective for Brooklyn in that time, manning the paint while the Nets outscored the Trail Blazers.
Zeller recorded one of Brooklyn’s six blocks of the game, but Portland recorded 13 on the Nets. That’s a lot of blocks on a team that scored 66 points in the paint, but that edge came into play in their game-winning run.
DeMarre Carroll Small Forward
10 PTS, 4-8 FG, 0-1 3FG, 2-5 FT, 9 REB, 3 AST, 1 TOV, 1 BLK, 25 MIN
DeMarre Carroll was one of three Nets who nearly recorded a double-double, but he was a big part of Brooklyn’s hot start. He put up six points in the first quarter, and while he did not contribute as much offensively in the rest of the game, he still brought his game on defense.
The vet shows often that he can be a spark on a team of young guys, and that’s valuable.
Trevor Booker Power Forward
10 PTS, 5-9 FG, 0-1 FT, 8 REB, 2 AST, 1 BLK, 20 MIN
Booker was held to 20 minutes in his return from a sprained left ankle, but it looked like he never left. He ran the court well and ground against Portland’s defenders to get into the paint.
It will be interesting to see if Kenny Atkinson swaps him back into the starting lineup with Zeller playing well, but it’s a likely move. The question is just how soon it will happen.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Small Forward
17 PTS, 8-13 FG, 1-1 FT, 4 REB, 2 AST, 1 TOV, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 30 MIN
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is turning into a highlight machine, creating his offense and making Ian Eagle yell things like, “He climbed Mount Nurkic!”
He was the team’s second-highest scorer of the game, and his shooting from the field was as efficient as it has been this season (61.5 percent).
Like Ian said before the game, Rondae’s offensive production is no longer a surprise, it is expected.