As fans made their way into Barclays Center on Sunday evening, they were given a small reminder of what could have been. It was Jeremy Lin bobble-head night, but Brooklyn’s point guard remained in street clothes on the Nets bench. Lin has played in just twelve games this season, after playing no fewer than seventy-one since the 2012-2013 season. Lin has played for many teams during his seven year career, and has a career 19.9 win share (estimated number of wins he contributes to a team) where this year, it sits at 0.6 via basketball reference.
Ten losses in a row have the Nets sitting with the worst record in the East by three games, and on top of the ten straight, have lost fifteen of sixteen dating back to December sixteenth. Another rough third quarter did them in, as a 13-0 run by Houston to start the third was more than enough to seal the deal, after the Nets gave up seventy-four first half points, the highest total this season. James Harden recorded a triple double with twenty-two points, eleven assists, and eleven rebounds to lead the Rockets past the Nets 137-112 the final.
Both the Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets came in to Sunday’s match-up on losing streaks, however, one was just a two game slide compared to the other, a team looking to avoid their tenth loss in a row. The Nets are win-less since December 26th vs Charlotte, while the Rockets started the new year with five straight wins, but have since dropped their last two. Houston sits third in the Western Conference at 31-11, just behind second place San Antonio by virtue of the Spurs having two games in hand. The Nets, are last in the NBA with just eight wins in thirty-nine games, and sit three games back of the Miami Heat for twenty-ninth.
Sunday the Nets were without their star Brook Lopez for extra rest ahead of Tuesday’s divisional match-up with the Toronto Raptors at Barclays Center, Justin Hamilton started at center. Isaiah Whitehead was listed as available and came off the bench with Spencer Dinwiddie starting.
Joe Harris started the game hot, scoring eight of the first twelve Brooklyn points with a pair of threes. Quincy Acy checked in early to help cover for Brook Lopez’s minutes, and showed why Sean Marks and company brought him in. Acy fights for every rebound, whether offensive or defensive, and even stripped James Harden in transition. Defense was non-existent in the first quarter, which ended with the Rockets up 37-36. Both teams shot right around 50 percent from the field, Houston was 11/20, and the Nets shot 13/27. Joe Harris lead the Nets with eight points, while Booker and Foye each scored seven. The thirty-six points was the most points the Nets scored in a first quarter in more than a month.
— The Brooklyn Game (@TheBKGame) January 15, 2017
Trevor Booker finished the first half with fourteen points and four rebounds, including that forced jump ball steal.
Houston lead 74-66 at the break, thanks to fifty-eight percent shooting and 10/21 from downtown, good for forty-seven percent. The Nets shot forty-six percent and thirty-nine from deep, but still trailed by eight.
Every night we wonder whether the Nets will figure out their third quarter woes, and Sunday was not that night. After Justin Hamilton opened the scoring, the Rockets went on a 13-0 run to take a nineteen point lead. Brooklyn responded after the run by playing the rest of the quarter about even with the Rockets, but too little too late after giving up a run like that.
The Rockets reached one hundred points with 1:20 to go in the third quarter and lead by twenty at that point. Brooklyn went on an 8-2 run to finish the frame, but the Rockets lead 104-90 after three quarters after the Nets were outscored 30-24 in the period. James Harden and possible sixth man of the year Eric Gordon each had nineteen to lead the Rockets, while Booker and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson lead the Nets with fourteen points.
By the time the four quarter started, the game was all but over, the Rockets hit almost fifty percent of their threes (21/43) and they seemed to hit every deep or contested three with the Nets on a run in the first half to kill the momentum. The blowout loss was the tenth in a row for the Nets, who fall closer and closer to handing over the highest odds for this summers first overall pick to their division rival Boston Celtics.
The Nets were a part of NBA history, as the teams combined to shoot eighty-eight threes, which ties for the most in NBA history, with a game between the Rockets and Golden State Warriors from earlier this year
The stats: 12 PTS, 5/11 FG, 3 REB, 2 AST, 0 BLK, 0 STL, 0 TOV
Harris scored eight of Brooklyn’s first twelve points, and shot the ball efficiently most of the night. Hard to look on the bright side on Sunday, but if the Nets can get healthy, they would love production like that from Harris every night.
The stats: 0 PTS, 0/3 FG, 2 REB, 8 AST, 0 BLK, 0 STL, 2 TOV
Dinwiddie was one of just two Nets to be held off the scoreboard in the first half, and the only Nets starter. With Whitehead slowly returning from his injury, the Nets would like more than just — from their staring point guard. If we’ve learned anything this season, it’s that Nets point guard issues are nothing new.