Nets Fall Short After Standout Performance Against Blazers, Await Raptors

A

Final: 08/13/2020

L 133 – 134

The Nets have never been afraid to play spoiler, and Thursday showcased just that. 

In a must-win game for the Trail Blazers, the Nets pushed Portland to the edge but escaped with a 134-133 loss. Caris LeVert’s potential game-winning shot was just off the mark to give Portland its spot in the play-in series for No. 8 in the West against the Memphis Grizzles.

Well, what a game! 

The Nets were not playing for anything other than themselves (and the Suns) and put up one of the most entertaining games of the season. The Blazers came up offensively just enough in the fourth quarter, out-scoring Brooklyn 37-29 in the final frame. 

The Nets knew Damian Lillard was going to heat up, it was just a matter of when. While C.J. McCollum was hot early, Dame Time came alive at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth as he made a pull-up three-pointer from the logo (yes, ridiculous). Then he went on to bury a few more from deep to tie up the game, but the Nets stayed afloat by sharing the ball and attacking the paint. 

Brooklyn had many second chances down the stretch courtesy of Jarrett Allen, who grabbed six offensive rebounds on the night, but the team was not able to convert all of them at the rim. The effort was impressive nonetheless, as Allen nearly single-handedly kept the Nets alive down the stretch.

LeVert did everything except make the game-winning bucket. He was cooking throughout the night, dropping 18 points in the first quarter and finishing with 37. LeVert was getting anything he wanted when he drove the lane, and boy was he fun to watch. 

Both teams had good starts offensively, but the Nets impressed with their efficiency on 55.2% shooting for the game. Portland held the clear advantage in the paint for the majority of the game, but the Nets pushed the envelope in the fourth and tied with the Trail Blazers for points in the paint with 58. 

Alongside LeVert, Brooklyn’s offense blossomed as six Nets registered in double digits. Tyler Johnson and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot came up big off the bench, with the teammates going a combined 7-of-13 (!) from three. 

In a game many thought the Nets had no chance of winning, Brooklyn remained competitive throughout the contest and led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter after holding a deficit as large as nine. The third frame was their best, out-scoring Portland 37-24 after a 28-10 run, but Lillard was not going to let his team lose as he finished with 42 points and 12 assists. The Blazers also took care of the ball throughout the night, turning it over just nine times while forcing 10 steals. 

Yes, it was a loss for Brooklyn, but Nets fans should be excited about the effort the Nets showed against a team fighting for its postseason life. It was a game that had it all, and it was a fun one to end the regular season on. (Sorry, Suns fans!)

Next up for Jacque Vaughn and Brooklyn: Playoffs! The No. 7 Nets draw a first-round matchup with the No. 2 Toronto Raptors. It will be interesting to see how Brooklyn responds to Toronto’s fast pace and heightened defense. 

If the team showed anything throughout its 5-3 bubble performances is that it is bound to surprise, but the Raptors await. Game 1 is on Monday, Aug. 17 at 4 p.m.

Let the postseason begin. 

Caris LeVert

A

The stats: 37 PTS, 16-29 FG, 1-5 3FG, 4-4 FT, 6 REB, 9 AST, 6 TO, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 33 MIN

OK, Caris. We see you. 

LeVert was feeling it offensively from the beginning, going iso throughout the game and driving to the rim. He got the attention of the NBA world as fans flocked to watch the make-or-break game for the Blazers. Lillard ended up with 42 points, but LeVert put on a show himself. 

LeVert chose to go with a step-back mid-range shot for the potential game-winner. He maybe would have been better off going to the rim since he was nearly unstoppable on the drive all night, but nonetheless, LeVert was the story of the night for Brooklyn. He was fun to watch and kept the Nets within range of victory, and yes, he is Brooklyn’s third star. 

Joe Harris

B+

The stats: 19 PTS, 9-14 FG, 1-4 3FG, 3 REB, 4 AST, 3 TO, 34 MIN

Joe Harris had a slow burn offensively throughout the game, but he stepped on the gas in the second half. 

Harris made just one three-pointer on the night, but it was enough to extend his streak of games with a made three-point field goal to 60–just another day in the office for Joe. A quiet first half led to Harris playing a key part of Brooklyn staying afloat in the fourth, countering with his drives and setting up teammates. 

It was not Harris’ best overall game, putting up a minus-20 plus/minus, but he eventually found his groove and stepped up down the stretch. Still, the Nets can always use more offense from Joe and for him to take better care of the ball. 

TimothΓ© Luwawu-Cabarrot

A-

The stats: 19 PTS, 7-13 FG, 5-9 3FG, 8 REB, 1 AST, 2 TO, 32 MIN

TL3! 

Somehow none of TLC’s five (!) three-pointers made the Nets’ Twitter page, so we’ll have to settle from this drive highlight. Still, TLC was hot off the bench, making two quick threes in the first quarter and keeping Portland at bay with his hot hand. 

TLC is making a strong case to stay on Brooklyn’s roster past this season, and his eight rebounds further represented his impact. 

Tyler Johnson

B+

The stats: 16 PTS, 7-13 FG, 2-4 3FG, 1 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 24 MIN

Tyler Johnson got off to a quick start alongside TLC, draining his first and only threes of the night. 

Johnson remained aggressive throughout the night, helping to give Brooklyn a 40-34 bench advantage. He has been accustomed to record more assists, but his consistent impact offensively has been a large part of the Nets’ gameplan. 

Johnson and the Nets will have a tough assignment against the Raptors, but he has shown no signs of slowing down his production. 

Garrett Temple

A-

The stats: 15 PTS, 4-10 FG, 3-7 3FG, 4-4 FT, 10 REB, 4 AST, 37 MIN

GT with the double-double! 

Temple impressed on the boards, recording his second-career double-double. Beyond that, he came up big from three, playing a key part in Brooklyn’s 28-10 third-quarter run. 

To add to Temple’s double-double, he added four assists with no turnovers. An efficient performance from Temple as the Nets kept the pressure on against Portland. 

Jarrett Allen

A-

The stats: 14 PTS, 5-8 FG, 4-9 FT, 11 REB, 4 AST, 1 TO, 3 BLK, 37 MIN

Double-double, check. Six offensive boards, check. Three blocks, check. 

Allen almost single-handedly kept Brooklyn alive down the stretch, grabbing offensive rebound after offensive rebound. Though not all of them resulted in a bucket, it was the effort that had Brooklyn with multiple chances to upset Portland. 

His free throw shooting could improve, but Allen came up big on a night where the Nets needed his size–and added four assists. Allen gave a little bit of everything and seems ready to step up against Toronto after multiple strong performances in the bubble. 

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