With majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov making a rare road trip appearance, the Brooklyn Nets failed to impress in Utah.
In Brooklyn’s second game of their seven-game road trip, the Jazz obliterated a Nets team in desperate need of a victory. Amid their most challenging stretch of the season, the Nets played like a team without playoff hopes.
It didn’t begin that way, however, as the first quarter started strongly for the Nets. Jarrett Allen rejected two dunk attempts from ex-Net Derrick Favors. The ball was moving efficiently, leading to open shots. The Jazz defense — one of the league’s best units — didn’t know what hit them.
But like all great defenses, Utah quickly adjusted.
The Jazz finished the first quarter with a 15-0 run and never looked back.
Down by as much as 20 in the second quarter, the Jazz simply overmatched the Nets. Utah entered the third up 17 points, holding Brooklyn to just 42 points in the half. Utah outrebounded Brooklyn by 10 and held them to 28.6 percent from the field. Despite committing a mere three turnovers, the Nets couldn’t get anything going on offense. D’Angelo Russell shot 4-15 from the field, and Caris LeVert missed on all six of his attempts.
The Nets’ defense has been one of the league’s best since early March. But the one-two punch of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert — who combined for 25 first-half points — was too much to handle for Brooklyn.
In the second half, the Nets would need to find an answer for the Jazz’s stifling defense and manage to contain Mitchell and Gobert. After the first ten or so minutes of the third, it looked like Utah wasn’t going to let off the gas.
But Spencer Dinwiddie thought otherwise.
Behind three three-pointers, Dinwiddie singlehandedly gave the Nets life as Utah saw their 26 point lead shrink to just 15.
Sadly, Utah was having none of the Nets’ comeback attempt and finished the third quarter up by 19 points.
From there, it was easy coasting for the Jazz, eventually winning 114-98.
Losing the rebounded battle by 20, the Nets never stood a chance against the West’s current sixth seed. And despite winning the turnover battle and holding the Jazz to under 44 percent from the field, the Nets failed to score against Utah’s potent defense.
With the loss tonight, Brooklyn remains the seventh seed in the East — trailing the Pistons by a half game.
The Nets will have a chance to bounce back tomorrow night against the Clippers, a game they desperately need to win if they want to return to Brooklyn above .500.
The stats: 20 PTS, 8-25 FG, 3-7 3PT, 1-1 FT, 5 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 2 TO, 25 MIN
D’Angelo Russell hasn’t been himself of late.
Despite dropping 20 points on a consistent basis, Russell will need to do more for the Nets in the weeks ahead.
In the first half, the All-Star shot 4-for-15 from the field. Stifled, Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell made life challenging for Russell on the offensive end.
Aside from a couple of threes, Russell’s second half was quiet.
If the Nets are serious about their playoff hopes, Russell is going to have to shoot as he did just a few weeks ago.
The stats: 4 PTS, 0-1 FG, 0-1 3PT, 4-4 FT, 5 REB, 1 AST, 2 STL, 4 BLK, 20 MIN
After blocking two Derrick Favors dunks in the opening quarter, Jarrett Allen failed to ride his momentum. He never even attempted a shot in the half, scoring all four points via the free throw line.
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Rudy Gobert, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, shut Allen down on offense and was a menace on the boards.
Despite his struggles, Allen was one of two Nets with a positive +/- in the first half and the only Net rotation player to finish with a positive plus-minus.
Allen, who did not even attempt a shot tonight, still made his presence felt on the defensive end with two blocks in each half.
The stats: 22 PTS, 7-16 FG, 3-6 3PT, 5-5 FT, 1 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 2 TO, 24 MIN
Spencer Dinwiddie was the lone bright spot for the Nets tonight.
Leading Brooklyn in points for the fifth consecutive game — a record for a Nets bench player — Dinwiddie has shown no signs of fatigue since returning from injury.
The Nets will look for a repeat performance from Dinwiddie tomorrow night in Los Angeles.
The stats: 6 PTS, 3-12 FG, 0-3 3PT, 1 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL, 26 MIN
Caris LeVert is healthy and in shape, something no basketball fan can dispute — but he’s just not there mentally. Despite creating ample space, his shots are either too short or too long — especially when shooting from in the paint.
It’s tough to watch such a talented player struggle as LeVert has since returning from injury.
After an abysmal first half, LeVert played much better in the fourth. LeVert makes progress every time he touches the court, so Nets fans shouldn’t worry.
The Caris we all know and love will be back soon.
The stats: 8 PTS, 3-4 FG, 2-3 3PT, 3 REB, 1 AST, 1 BLK 16 MIN
Rodions Kurucs was the other Net with a positive plus-minus in the first half.
But for some reason — most likely inexperience or an unfavorable matchup — Kurucs plays the fewest minutes of the Nets’ starting five.
His eight points in the first half would all he would score tonight.
The Nets are statistically better with Kurucs on the floor, so it would be a surprise if he plays under 20 minutes tomorrow night against the Clippers.