Opponent: Oklahoma City Thunder
Location: Barclays Center
Time UPDATE!: 7:30 PM EDT
Watch: YES Network, Fox Sports GO app
The Nets may have hit rock bottom on Friday night, losing the 14th of their last 15 home games in as lackluster fashion as it gets, 108-86 to the visiting Utah Jazz. The Nets had no spark on offense and even less resistance on defense; the Jazz shot over 57 percent from the field for the game, stoked by a 37-17 third quarter that catapulted them to an easy victory. With 38 games remaining, the mood around the Nets appears somber and sullen to say the least.
“This was by no means our best effort,” Head Coach Tony Brown said. “I’m going to keep coaching, but some soul-searching needs to be done. I’m going to keep fighting. I just hope they do, too.”
If the weekend blizzard didn’t put the Nets on high alert, the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder should jar something loose in their periphery. With the league’s third-best record, eight straight victories, and 21 wins in their last 25 games, the Northeast Division-leading Thunder have quickly inserted themselves into title contention conversation. With arguably the most dynamic duo in league (Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook), the Thunder and their high-octane offense could plow through Barclays Center with ease if the Nets bring a similar game as they did on Friday.
The Thunder started their four-game road trip in Dallas on Friday, beating the Mavericks 109-106 led by Kevin Durant’s 24-point, seven-assist performance. After falling behind by eight at halftime, the Thunder erupted for 37 third-quarter points, including 61.5 percent shooting (16-for-26) that put them up nine going into the fourth quarter. The Thunder were helped out by 47 points off the bench, including 16 from Enes Kanter.
“The bench won that game for us tonight,” Durant said. “The starters didn’t play so well but that’s why you have a whole team. The bench came up huge for us tonight and made big plays all night. We were able to ride their coattails a little bit and get this win.”
The Nets and Thunder have played once this season: on November 25, the Thunder beat the Nets 110-99 in Oklahoma City. Durant led the Thunder with 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting, and Westbrook poured in 27 points (10-for-16) along with 13 assists and five steals (Westbrook currently leads the NBA in steals at 2.5 per game).
Steven Adams will not play for the Thunder (right elbow sprain).
In that game, Brook Lopez led the Nets with 26 points. In 10 career games against the Thunder, Lopez has averaged 20.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks.
The Thunder rank second in the NBA in scoring (108.6 points per game) and third in field goal percentage (47.5%) this season.
What to watch for: First, to see if fans make it out to Barclays Center through the winter elements, but another thing to notice is Joe Johnson’s newfound three point stroke. After shooting a dreadful 30.2 percent from three over the first 32 games, Johnson has shot 53.1 percent (26-for-49) behind the arc in his last 12 games. In what has been a lost season for the seven-time All-Star, it’s encouraging to see Joe get that sweet stroke back in what is probably his last season in Brooklyn.