Nets wave the white flag early, Cavaliers cruise in Christmas Day tuneup

INC

Final: 12/23/2016

L 57 98

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

The Brooklyn Nets are a basketball team. They’re also a basketball team that had to play the Golden State Warriors last night. They’re the same basketball team that built a 16-point lead at halftime and then promptly lost the game by 16 at the end. So, then, I guess the point is that you’ll never truly know what version of these Nets you’ll get, right?

Tonight, then, the Nets are a basketball team that flew to Cleveland to play the defending NBA Champion Cavaliers on the second night of a back-to-back. In that case, a blowout loss would’ve been expected, nay, accepted — and, hey, the Nets hate to disappoint.

Justin Hamilton, inserted into the starting lineup for the resting Trevor Booker, continued to struggle on both ends — his shooting cold and his interior defense even colder. With Isaiah Whitehead still nursing a left foot injury, it was up to Spencer Dinwiddie, Luis Scola, and Joe Harris to curb the tide of surging Cavaliers team — which, uh, did not happen.

In particular, it was the bouncy Tristan Thompson that punished the Nets in the paint, racking up 10 points and 6 rebounds in the first quarter alone. Toss in Kevin Love’s 8 rebounds, Kyrie Irving’s 4 assists, and the Nets’ horrendous 7-22 shooting display from the field — and you’ve got a serious recipe for disaster…

…which is exactly what we got.

If last night’s letdown against the Warriors was eventually just a case of the best teams in the world beating a bad one — then what was this? It’s hard to even pretend that a day of rest or Booker could’ve saved this one. The Nets have a very specific path to victory in each game, and if they’re not hitting three-pointers and Lopez isn’t cooking, the wheels fall off almost immediately.

For quite sometime, it felt like we were going to see Kenny Atkinson murder in cold blood.

Front to back, the Nets allowed fast break after fast break, threw 12 first half turnovers, and hit just 4 of their 16 three-point attempts. The Nets secured 21 rebounds in the first half, just two more than Love and Thompson grabbed alone.

Here’s your one sentence diagnosis: tired and broken NBA team brings nothing on the road, perhaps ready to be home with their families on Sunday eating and watching the last two teams to smoke them.

It is what it is — and exactly what was expected — but what it is hurts a whole damn lot to watch.

The Brooklyn Nets

INC

The stats: 4-23 3PT, 16 TOV

If this is what we expected, why does it still hurt so badly?

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

B-

The stats: 8 PTS, 3-6 FG, 3 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 1 TOV

…and the other dude is Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who has suddenly turned on the confidence spigot out of nowhere.

Have some patience, y’all, this youngster is a gamer.

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