Nets Gameday: Brooklyn tries to end ugly road trip with win in Denver

Nets Denver Nuggets
Jan 26, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Cam Thomas (24) drives to the basket on Denver Nuggets guard Austin Rivers (25) during the fourth quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets need a win, and they need one bad to break the current seven-game slump they’ve found themselves in. They’ll try to do that on Sunday against the Denver Nuggets, who have lost three straight themselves entering the game.

The Nuggets and Nets played on Jan. 26 at the Barclays Center when the Nets losing streak had only been at two. The meeting came on the back end of back-to-back games for Brooklyn.

The Nets come into Sunday’s game now in a much more precarious spot than they were a little more than a week ago when these two teams met at Barclays. The Nets are dealing with a losing streak that is now the longest in the past two years and off the court rumors continue to swirl about the possibility of James Harden being dealt to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Harden is out for the game on Sunday after missing Friday’s loss to the Utah Jazz.  It’s the second time this season that Harden won’t on the floor for a game against Denver.

In the Jan. 26 loss, the Nets did have any member of their “Big 3” on the floor. That won’t be the case this time around with Kyrie Irving eligible to play.

The Nets will also be without Nic Claxton, who is also dealing with tightness in his left hamstring.

Brooklyn’s defense has struggled immensely over the losing streak and that didn’t change during Friday’s loss. The Nets allowed the Jazz to shoot 61.3% from the field through three quarters on Friday night.

“We want to be able to impact the basketball on the defensive end so we’re not taking the ball out of the rim every single time,” Irving said after the game. “That’s a demoralizing way to play basketball.”

The loss of Durant has been surely felt by Brooklyn on the defensive end. They have allowed 119.3 points per 100 possessions without Durant in the lineup, which is the third-highest in the Association.

Denver has had its fair of struggles this season and they’re coming off a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, 113-105. Aaron Gordon was not in the lineup for the second straight game for Denver in the loss on Friday, but is listed as probable by the Nuggets for Sunday.

The Nuggets went through their own defensive woes in the loss to New Orleans.

“Just (bad) defense in general,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said on Friday. “In the third quarter they shot 65 (percent) and in the fourth quarter 73 (percent). Those are embarrassing numbers. That’s not even remotely close to being a team that is giving forth the necessary effort on defense. When you do that and then turn it over, you’re not going to win.”

Nets Notables

At 20 years, 114 days old, Cam Thomas became the second-youngest player in franchise history to register a 30-point game on Friday, trailing only Cliff T. Robinson (45 points on 3/9/80 vs. Detroit at 19 years, 362 days old). … In 11 games this season, Kyrie Irving has posted an offensive rating of 116.6, defensive rating of 113.6 and net rating of 3.0. … In his last 12 games, Patty Mills has averaged 16.2 ppg (.469 FG) in 31.0 mpg, scoring 20+ points five times. He’s shot 46-of-97 (.474) from distance in that span.

Nets Injury Report

  • James Harden (left hamstring tightness) — Out
  • Nic Claxton (left hamstring tightness) — Out
  • LaMarcus Aldridge (left ankle sprain) — Out
  • David Duke Jr. (G League Two way) — Out
  •  Kevin Durant (left knee MCL sprain) — Out
  • Joe Harris (left ankle surgery) — Out
  • Paul Millsap (personal reasons) — Out

Nuggets Injury Report

  • Austin Rivers (right hip flexor tightness) — Probable
  • Aaron Gordon (left hamstring tightness) — probable
  • Vlatko Cancar (right foot surgery) — Out
  • Jamal Murray (left knee injury recovery) — Out
  • Michael Porter Jr. (lumbar spine surgery) — Out

How To Watch

YES Network will broadcast Sunday’s game with Ryan Ruocco, Sarah Kustok and Michael Grady will be on the call. NBA TV will also carry the game. Chris Carrino and Tim Capstraw will be the voices heard on the radio broadcast on WFAN 101.9 FM.