Nets fumble late in Utah, suffer second straight loss

C-

Final: 11/12/2019

L 114 – 119

The Brooklyn Nets failed to overcome the impenetrable defense of the Utah Jazz in an away game on Tuesday evening.

It was another close — and all-too-familiar — game that the Nets once led by 15 points.

The third game of Brooklyn’s road trip was played without starter Caris LeVert, who is nursing a sprained right thumb. This forced Kenny Atkinson to get creative with his rotations, as he slotted Garrett Temple into the starting lineup. He made the most of that opportunity, dropping 10 points on a stout Jazz defense.

The pair of Nets’ youngins Dzanan Musa and Nicolas Claxton also impressed in their early showings.

Spencer Dinwiddie shined while playing alongside the younger players, but he began to struggle offensively once they went back to the bench. Tuesday night was a continuation of his up-and-down season, trailing only Kyrie Irving for the most turnovers in the game even though he played 13 fewer minutes.

Speaking of Irving, watching him play basketball in Utah was an out-of-body experience. For many of Utah’s defenders, it was an out-of-shoes experience. (In the first half, at least!)

On the back of his overwhelming offense, the Nets carried a 15-point lead into halftime, scoring 68 against one of the best defenses in the league.

If Nets fans have watched this team at all this season, they do not need to be told how the third quarter went — but we’re going to do it anyway. The Jazz opened the second half with a 13-0 run to bring the game back to a single possession. Jarrett Allen then was sent to the bench with five fouls with over half of the third quarter still to play.

Just another day for Brooklyn.

In a show of resilience, the Nets took that punch and rebounded to carry an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter. That lead was by no means safe, however, and the game was within a single possession for most of the final minutes. Allen fouling out and Dinwiddie’s continued struggles led to DeAndre Jordan and Temple closing the game out.

The match came down to the final possession, as it often has for the Nets so far this year. Some of those finishes have been magical, and it looked like this one was going to be another. Irving had as good of a look as the team could have hoped for, a three that would have put the Nets up by one in the final moments, but the shot didn’t fall.

It was the cap to what was a cold night for Irving. The Nets, once again, fell in the final moments.

Brooklyn scored the most points that any team has so far this season against Utah, a shallow comfort. Still, the team falls to 1-2 on their road trip and 4-6 on the season.

Next up: the Denver Nuggets and their All-Star center Nikola Jokic who has already amassed a highlight reel of clutch game-winning shots this season. Buckle up, this has the makings of another nail-biter. 

Kyrie Irving

C-

The stats: 27 PTS, 10-30 FG, 2-12 3PT, 3 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL, 2 BLK, 4 TO

Kyrie Irving was decidedly un-clutch.

Ignore his 30 shot attempts. Ignore his four turnovers. Ignore the questionable defense. Irving missed his last eight shots, including a potential game-winner. That is simply not enough for one of the best closers in the game, and the primary option on this team.

If the Nets want to compete in the Eastern Conference this season, they need the absolute best that Irving has to offer. Tuesday, they did not get it.

Spencer Dinwiddie

C+

The stats: 21 PTS, 7-16 FG, 2-6 3PT, 1 REB, 4 AST, 3 TO

Spencer Dinwiddie is struggling to put it all together.

He has all the ingredients — he knows how the recipe is supposed to be, he has made it hundreds of times before. But for some inexplicable reason, the dish is not yet as fantastic as it once was.

Despite this, Dinwiddie is still a skilled chef, and Nets fans hope he will be cooking again soon.

DΕΎanan Musa

B+

The stats: 9 PTS, 4-5 FG, 1-2 3PT, 1 AST, 0 TO

This was the Dzanan Musa that fans had been hoping to see.

He’s been impressing in the G-League, and with the main squad struggling with ball-handling and turnovers as a whole, another guard who can dish the rock would be big for the roster.

Joe Harris

C+

The stats: 11 PTS, 4-10 FG, 2-5 3PT, 5 REB, 2 TO

It feels like Brooklyn wins 0 percent of the games where Joe Harris makes less than two threes. Luckily for the team, that does not happen too often.

Even when he has been an ice-cold non-factor all night, you can always count on Joey Buckets to hit the clutch threes to kill an opponent’s run or silence the crowd. He got hot at the right time, but perhaps it was just a little too late.

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