Nets drop 8th straight as they end road trip with loss to Nuggets

Brooklyn Nets
Kyrie Irving and Brooklyn Nets guard DeAndre’ Bembry defend on Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon in the second quarter at Ball Arena.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a not-so-great eight.

That’s how many games the Nets have dropped consecutively after Sunday’s 124-104 loss to the Denver Nuggets. Brooklyn ended its five-game road trip with yet another loss in which they let a game slip away in the second half and fell to seventh in the Eastern Conference.

It was a dreadful third that doomed the Nets and saw a one-point deficit turn to 18 at one point in the third quarter. The Nuggets opened the third period with a 22-5 run through nearly the first eight minutes, which was a drastic change from a first half that saw the Nets put up 75 points through the first 24 minutes of the game.

Denver ended the third up by 16, which was just too much for the Nets, whose shooting went ice cold, to recover from. Patty Mills was able to cut the deficit to 10 with a three-pointer with 8:02 left in the fourth, but the Nuggets went on an 8-0 run to extend their lead to 18.

Kyrie Irving finished the game with 27 points on 10-of 26 shooting, but was limited in his scoring in the third as the Nets let the game slip away. Blake Griffin had 19 points and shot 5-of-7 from beyond the arc, marking the most made three-pointers he has had as a Net.

Cam Thomas had 20 points off the bench on 7-0f-16 shooting.

It has been a frustrating run for the Nets, who played Sunday’s game without James Harden on the floor. The Brooklyn superstar was dealing with hamstring tightness in his left leg, adding to the bevy of injures that they’ve had to deal with including an MCL sprain to Kevin Durant.

The Nets have been in a downward spiral since the Durant injury and are now 2-9 since then. Add to that a team that has suffered a number of ugly losses on this recent road trip to Sacramento, Utah and now Denver.

“For us, our guys have been outstanding over the last few days,” Steve Nash said before the loss. “We’ve really pushed them to stay together and we’ll find solutions no matter what. We’re going to get in and out of this together. We’ll stay in this funk if we come apart and we’ll get out of it eventually if we stay together. The growth potential when you fight through adversity like this is huge, so that’s the motivation for us.”

After the first half, it looked as though the Nets might break the streak after a high-scoring two-quarters of basketball. The high-scoring first half marked the second time in franchise history that both the Nets and their opponent scored 75 or more points in a half.

The Nets ended the first quarter up 40-39 and held the lead until Nikola Jokic hit a jumper with 2:24 and completed the And-1 to put Denver ahead 70-68.