Reality has set in for the Brooklyn Nets.
A game that started with four straight three-pointers from D’Angelo Russell ended in three straight missed threes from Russell, Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert, leading to a 125-121 Brooklyn loss.
The Nets used the third quarter to build their lead, but turnovers and sloppy play allowed the Magic to slowly build a lead in the fourth.
The game was nearly defined by the grit of DeMarre Carroll, who ripped the ball from the Magic and followed it up with a play at the rim to bring the Nets up one with less than a minute to go.
Aaron Gordon squashed all of that effort though with one shot. Gordon, who killed the Nets all night and put up a career-high 41 points, made the three-point shot that put the Magic up for good.
*jots Aaron Gordon's name down on list of Nets killers* https://t.co/f2v4sWwIfl
— The Brooklyn Game (@TheBKGame) October 25, 2017
That didn’t mean the Nets did not have their chance to come back. Down two, Russell pulled up from the top of the key, a miss the Nets rebounded. Russell then chose to drive the lane, where an outlet pass got intercepted by Orlando.
There was no ice in Russell’s veins tonight.
After Orlando made two free throws to go up by four, the Nets had one more chance to make a comeback. Russell shot a three, no good. Crabbe shot a three, no good. LeVert shot a three, no good.
The comeback was just not meant to be.
After allowing Nikola Vucevic to score 41 points and grab 10+ rebounds Friday night, Gordon followed that up with a 41-point, 12-rebound performance of his own.
While the Nets gave up the win tonight, the team still showed positives throughout the game, leading almost the entire second half and building leads of more than 10 points. Brooklyn is not backing down in the third quarter like last season, and the team has been competitive all around.
They are fun to watch, that’s for sure. Nail biters like tonight only came so often last season.
Now, with a 2-2 record, the Nets head to back to Brooklyn to face the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night.
The Nets may be able to dictate Cleveland’s tempo, but LeBron James might have something to say about that. It should be a good test for a team that has shown grit and offensive talent through four games this season.
The stats: 5 PTS, 2-4 FG, 1-2 FT, 3 REB, 2 TOV, 1 STL, 1 BLK
Jarrett Allen had some more highlight plays tonight, along with a block, but the Nets needed more from him with his time on the court. As Ian Eagle said on the broadcast, Allen had some rookie mistakes, with two turnovers in key stretches. Let’s hope each game is a learning experience for the Fro.
The stats: 27 PTS. 8-23 FG, 4-9 3FG, 7-8 FT, 5 REB, 1 AST, 3 TOV, 2 STL
The game started with the excitement of Russell’s four three-pointers but ended with the defeat of his missed shots and turnovers.
As the Nets lost the lead throughout the fourth quarter, sloppy passes and poor shots were abundant. Russell ended up making just eight of 23 shots tonight, which is not the efficiency the team can handle when a player like Crabbe did not have the hot hand tonight either.
He scored 27 points on the night, but it took him 23 attempts to do it.
This is where Jeremy Lin being out for the season creates some trouble – Russell wants to contribute more offensively, but now he has to figure out how to distribute the ball. We know Russell is capable after recording 10 assists last game, but following up that performance with a one-assist game is not enough.
Crabbe’s struggles in his 2-of-11 performance tonight contributed to this.
We can be thankful that Russell’s injury scare was just that, a scare, but Russell will have tonight to look back on in how he can distribute the ball and finish out games more efficiently as the team’s leading ball-handler.
The stats: 16 PTS, 4-10 FG, 3-5 3FG, 5-5 FT, 6 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK
DeMarre Carroll gets the best grade of the night just for the play he made at the end of the game to put the Nets up one. His steal was pure hustle. He wanted to win, and he showed it.
Carroll was one of the four starters that put up double-digit scores on the night, even though he missed six of ten attempted shots. His three-pointers helped power Brooklyn to 10+ point leads, but the team as a whole crumbled.
Along with Russell, Carroll has brought consistency through the first four games of the season in his offensive contributions. His role on the team is irreplaceable, but other players on the team need to step up earlier and follow Carroll’s lead. That should come with time.
Tough loss… Remember it’s a Marathon not a Sprint…Keep Grinding @BrooklynNets ….💯💯💯#Staypositive #BrooklynGrit #TeamCarroll
— DeMarre Carroll (@DeMarreCarroll1) October 25, 2017
The stats: 6 PTS, 2-11 FG, 1-7 3FG, 1-1 FT, 3 REB, 2 AST, 1 TOV
We know Crabbe can be automatic from three, but he was not tonight. When Crabbe is hitting his shots, his team is usually right behind him.
This was an out-of-character performance for Crabbe. How long he continues this stretch will be more telling than just one poor shooting night.