Schott: Nets Get Dose Of Reality

(Jarrett Jack of the Nets and Golden State’s Stephen Curry – @BrooklynNets Twitter)

The Brooklyn Nets had a respectable start to the season in that they were in nearly every one of their first 18 games despite only winning five of them.

The only time they were really blown out was by the Boston Celtics, 120-95 on November 20, but they followed that up by beating the Celtics in Brooklyn two days later, 111-101.

The Nets started to play some good basketball, with wins over Detroit last Sunday and then Phoenix on Tuesday, entering their toughest back-to-back so far, with the Knicks at The Garden on Friday followed by the undefeated Golden State Warriors on Sunday.

The Knicks knocked the Nets out early, outscoring the Nets 42-21 in the first quarter on their way to a 108-91 win. The Nets had no answer for Carmelo Anthony, who had 28 points, and rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis, who had a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Sunday night at Barclays Center against the Warriors was the same story, as Golden State jumped out to a 9-0 run, with eight of those points coming from Klay Thompson. They led by as many as 17, at 26-9, and closed the first with a 30-16 lead.

In the second quarter, the Warriors led 57-42 with 1:47 left when Curry drained a three. Those were the last points they would score in that frame, as the Nets went on a 12-0 to close it out, capped by a Joe Johnson three that made it 57-54 Warriors.

The Nets went on a run in the third and three straight jumpers from Thaddeus Young gave them a five point edge, 68-63, at the 6:58 mark of the third.

The Nets led 76-72 at the 2:44 mark of the third, and that was when the game changed. The Warriors closed the third on a 15-4 run and a prolonged 24-9 run when Leandro Barbosa hit a three to make it 96-85 at the 9:44 mark of the fourth. The Warriors opened up a 20-point lead, 109-89, on a Draymond Green three with 4:22 left.

The Warriors won it 114-98 to improve to 22-0, while the Nets fell to 5-15.

Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins said of the game, “Well, we got off to another dastardly start. We went down 30 to 16 in the first quarter. We went small, they went small with us, and we were able to make a huge headway. In the second and third quarters, we were even. (We went) ahead in the third and we didn’t close the quarter very well. We took a couple of untimely, tough shots and they came down and made threes. We turned the ball over a couple of times during that stretch as well and they got some energy. They had a lot of people making shots and if you look, they were 14 of 33 from three for 51 percent, I think they shot almost 60 percent if you take away the threes. The only positive in the game was the fact that we made the huge run and got it to within three (at halftime) and took the lead in the third quarter.”

Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 28 points, including 16 in the third quarter, on 11-for-17 from the field, 5-9 on threes, in 32 minutes.

Hollins said of Curry’s performance late in the third quarter, “That’s what great players can do. Plus he has a great team. He doesn’t have to go out there and do it all of the time. Last night he had 44, two nights ago in Charlotte, he had 40. When he needs to, he can, and when he doesn’t need to, he takes a back seat to those other guys. They got Klay Thompson off early, some other guys were rolling, and then when he needed to, he stepped up and put the dagger in us. He’s a great player.”

Nets forward Thaddeus Young said of what went through his mind when Curry went off in the third, “We’ve got to calm the flame down. Once he starts to get going, starts to get in his rhythm, it’s hard to stop the whole team. They’re a good team. They wouldn’t be 22-0 if they weren’t a good team, and they wouldn’t have won the championship, so you’ve just got to find a way to run them out of the 3-point line, make plays and make other guys mess up.”

Nets point guard Jarrett Jack said of how the Warriors were able to overtake things, “They were stringing stops together. At times we got a bit confused on our matchups and transitions. We were transitioning easy buckets for them, and they got the lead back.”

Jack said of how to characterize this loss with the way the Warriors have played, “I mean, they’re a tough team. They’ve faced pretty much every situation possible. We fought back after a deficit coming out of the half and tried to extend the lead in the third quarter, and they withstood it. You’ve got to give them credit. They’re a resilient team.”

Hollins said of the Warriors being ready for the Nets after they took Golden State to overtime on November 14, “I think they are a great team that plays to their level. That’s what they came out and did in the first quarter. They didn’t worry about us, they played their game. We battled and scratched and clawed but they just stayed with their game until they overwhelmed us later on. When you are good, you are not worried about who you are playing. You are just going out there and doing your thing and the other team has to match you.”

Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton said of the Warriors’ confidence, “It helps. Every time we step onto the court our confidence is high. I felt like we played pretty close to perfect in the first quarter. I felt like we had a letdown because of that in the second quarter. Brooklyn did some good things where they changed it up with a really small lineup out there. But mentally I feel like we had a little bit of a letdown in the second and third quarters, which obviously you don’t like to see. Then you come back with the second unit, which is why we have so much faith in them. They struggled in Toronto as a group (on Saturday), but then they came out tonight and take the momentum we built in the third quarter and just run with it in the fourth. Really, we didn’t have to get the starters back in there at all in the fourth on the back end of a back-to-back and that was huge. Especially on this road trip we’re on, so it was great to see them respond like that.”



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