Grizzlies drain Nets’ hopes in second overtime loss of season

B

Final: 10/27/2019

L 133 134

Photo via YES Network

The Nets have not won their first road game of the season in seven years coming into Sunday evening, and fans will have to wait for the team to break the streak — this time at the hands of another heartbreaker. 

On a night where Ja Morant dropped 17 points in the fourth quarter and 30 points overall, a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Jae Crowder stunned the Nets in a 134-133 overtime loss. 

The Nets ended up in their second overtime game in their first three contests after familiar weakness showed themselves — lack of defense, key missed free throws and failing to get stops. From the start, the Nets were quickly in a 10-point hole and trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half while attempting to find a groove.

What gave Brooklyn its first boost was a series of eye-popping moves and shots from — who else — Kyrie Irving. The new Net continued his offensive tear to start the season, scoring 12 points in the first eight minutes and 37 for the evening.

While Irving was originally the only thing clicking on the floor for Brooklyn, the team started to turn around by settling for fewer poor shots and distributing the ball. What the Nets did not find consistent success from three-point range (15-45), they edged forward by being aggressive and drawing fouls. 

Brooklyn found contribution throughout the roster, with six players scoring in double digits and outscoring the Grizzlies 40-33 in the third quarter. It felt like the team had all the momentum heading into the fourth quarter.

A six-point lead in the fourth felt like a large accomplishment for a Brooklyn team that struggled to break away all game, but of course, Memphis was not done.

Much like the Nets show life when Irving hits the court, the Grizzlies’ comeback was ignited when No. 2 overall pick Morant entered the fourth quarter. Memphis went on a run to take the lead, which Brooklyn built back into an eight-point lead with four minutes to go, but Morant continued to fire.

While the Nets drew blanks and failed to get foul calls, Morant delivered the final block on Irving to force overtime. 

A closely-played overtime — one where Brooklyn held the edge until the final two minutes — was decided by a player that had not scored all game in Crowder. His two three-pointers were the final two shots of the game for Memphis, and while a hustling Joe Harris tipped in the shot that put Brooklyn ahead for the final time, the Grizzlies had too much time left (and a little bit of luck). 

The Nets had multiple chances to put this one away. As Ryan Ruocco pointed out on YES Network, the team could have challenged a foul on Allen before Morant made the game-tying basket in regulation. Irving missed a wide-open three-pointer in overtime. Spencer Dinwiddie missed his second free throw that would have given Brooklyn a three-point cushion before Crowder’s final shot.

But those plays did not fall Brooklyn’s way, and the team will be left with learning pains going forward. Yes, it is good that these mistakes are happening earlier in the season. But they sting just as much to Nets fans and players alike.

For what did not go right for Brooklyn down the stretch, Caris LeVert’s playmaking was a large part of Brooklyn fighting for the win. His distribution and shooting (27 points) have been getting better with each game, and he has worked well alongside Irving that can become a lethal one-two punch as the season moves forward. 

Another step forward was what Brooklyn got from its bigs. Jarrett Allen had an improved performance, notching a double-double off the bench, while DeAndre Jordan started for the first time and pulled in 12 rebounds. It was a formula Kenny Atkinson may go to again if improved results continue.

Next, the Nets go back home to face the Pacers. After two overtime losses, Brooklyn may be motivated to win this one in regulation — without the stress of a one-possession lead. 

Resilience has shown itself early for these Brooklyn Nets, and time will be the true test of what can come out of that fight. 

Kyrie Irving

A

The stats: 37 PTS, 11-27 FG, 5-12 3PT, 10-11 FT, 7 REB, 7 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 2 TO

Kyrie Irving has broken pretty much every Nets offensive record through the first three games of a season that you can think of. 

The big one? He’s the first Net to ever score 26+ points in the first three games of a season, and he continues to impress with his shot-creating as much as his shot-making. 

As much as fans love to ooh and ahh over his iso plays, Irving also has delivered at the line while being aggressive and is melding with others well, including LeVert and Jordan.

Still, Brooklyn still can get lost without him on the floor, and after a blocked shot to end regulation and a wide-open miss in OT, the Nets cannot expect Irving to make the clutch shot every night.

Caris LeVert

A-

The stats: 27 PTS, 11-22 FG, 3-7 3PT, 2-3 FT, 4 REB, 5 AST, 2 TO

Without LeVert, it would have been difficult for the Nets to find their groove in this game. He played with high confidence, scoring seven straight points in the first half to cut Brooklyn’s 14-point deficit down to seven. 

It is fun to watch LeVert score and set up his teammates, and his chemistry alongside Irving has been promising. The two pose a three-point threat and have been dishing well, but the challenge that lies ahead is for LeVert to involve his teammates further. 

The Nets have LeVert to thank for this one being the battle it was, and Atkinson will be looking for more of the same from him going forward.

Spencer Dinwiddie

B-

The stats: 16 PTS, 3-13 FG, 2-7 3PT, 8-10 FT, 3 REB, 8 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 1 TO

Missed free throw aside, Dinwiddie’s strength off the bench lied in his playmaking rather than his shotmaking. His eight assists in 30 minutes off the bench led the team, and a steal and block added substance to a game that lacked defense. 

Still, the Nets need more offensively from Dinwiddie. He was aggressive and got to the line, but his three-point shot fell flat and he had trouble finishing. 

Brooklyn did not lose because Dinwiddie missed his last free throw, as he was great from the line all night, but he knows he has to keep up the offensive pace while Irving gets a breather. This time, the rhythm took a bit too long to form vs Memphis.

Jarrett Allen

B+

The stats: 14 PTS, 5-6 FG, 4-4 FT, 13 REB, 1 AST, 2 TO

After a rough two games, Atkinson switched up the lineup and brought in Allen off the bench. The swap resulted in Allen’s best showing so far, as he put up a double-double (including four offensive rebounds) in 27 minutes.

Allen connected better with his teammates this game, getting looks in the paint and out-rebounding Jonas Valanciunas (11 REB). Plays like this reminded Nets fans of Allen’s impact.

On top of that, Allen made all four of his free throws after starting the season 0-4 from the line this season and missing two that would have put the team ahead against the Timberwolves. Overall, this game was a sigh of relief for Allen.

The question is how long Atkinson will keep Allen out of the starting lineup.

DeAndre Jordan

B

The stats: 6 PTS, 3-3 FG, 0-2 FT, 12 REB, 1 AST, 2 BLK, 1 TO

While Allen got more runtime down the stretch, it was a few defensive stops and impressive plays from Jordan that got Brooklyn going in the third quarter. Back-to-back blocks came during the Nets’ run to take the lead, while this alley-oop extended it.

Just as Allen showed an improved performance off the bench, Jordan showed more comfort running with the starting squad. In a game where Brooklyn could not get the final stop, Jordan was there to give them a chance.

While he came up with those blocks, his team still needs more consistency from him while he finds his place in the lineup. 

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