A six-hour flight, a trip across the country and playing the night before. Perhaps it all caught up to the Nets in the end in their 114-106 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers at Modo Center.
The road-warrior Nets looked gassed on Monday night and let the game slip away as the Trail Blazers had three players score double digits. Portland put up 32 points in the third quarter to erase the Nets 74-68 lead late in the period and ended on a 19-7 run.
The Nets trailed 87-81 going into the fourth, but would only get within two of Portland in the final quarter before the Trail Blazers pulled away with the game.
“Guys were gassed,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “There were some good stretches, but overall I don’t think we had the juice to follow through and finish the job. I don’t know if anyone’s ever had a six-hour flight between games, so I get it. I understand. They’re trying to dig deep late. I know our guys were tired after yesterday’s overtime game, so to get on a six-hour flight and get here. They had a good effort.
“We had the lead at some point in the second half and just couldn’t sustain the effort, couldn’t close out possessions. They made big shots and we didn’t.”
The Nets finished the night shooting 46.2% (42-of-91) from the field and 37.5% (12-of-32) from three-point range.
Kevin Durant led the Nets in scoring with 28 points in the loss. The Nets superstar added 10 rebounds and five assists.
In his second game back this season, Kyrie Irving had 22 points in 40 minutes of work. Rookies Cam Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe had good showings with 21 and 14 points, respectively.
Brooklyn suffered a bit of a scare in the fourth quarter when Irving got tangled up with Nassir Little diving for a loose ball. Little went for the ball by diving through Irving’s legs and taking out his ankle.
Here is the diving play by Nassir Little that Kyrie Irving felt was ‘unnecessary.’ Irving rolled his left ankle but finished the game and said he’ll be available for Chicago. pic.twitter.com/4qOkQpEl6j
— DaveEarly (@DavidEarly) January 11, 2022
Irving was worked on by the trainers, but did finish the game and said he would be able to play on Wednesday in Chicago.
“It’s a bad one, just one of those bad plays,” Irving said. “I tried to get out of the way, but I just felt like it was unnecessary for him to dive that far away from the ball. I was trying to get out the way. Just an unnecessary play. … I get Nassir wants to go for the ball, but it’s like, bro, it’s just a bad play. It’s all good.”
Brooklyn will now head to Chicago to begin another back-t0-back set. As for using all the travel as an excuse, Kevin Durant wasn’t looking to do that.
“Who cares? It’s a part of the game,” Durant said. “It’s a part of who we are. We’ve been in the league. We got young dudes, who cares? They are supposed to get up and play. They throw s- -t at you, you’ve gotta figure out how to work around it, and we still had an opportunity to win this game. So who cares? That’s what championship teams go through is a little adversity.”