The Brooklyn Nets have finally hit the rough patch many expected to come during the absence of Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert. Although the reinforcements are coming soon in LeVert, the Nets still had to try and tread water without him Thursday night in Dallas.
Adding to the Nets injury woes Garett Temple was ruled out before the game with a right knee contusion. DeAndre Jordan also made his fourth start of the season as Jarrett Allen came off the bench. Jordan immediately made his presence felt as he scored the team’s first points of the game on a putback layup. Brooklyn started the game on a 13-3 run, making three of their first five shots from 3-point range. The Mavericks would answer back with Luka Doncic and Maxi Kleber leading the Mavericks offense in the first quarter. Dallas would lead Brooklyn 30-31 at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter started poorly for Brooklyn as breakdowns on defense led to uncontested 3-point looks for the Mavericks. At one point after a Dallas three, Kenny Atkinson called timeout and was visibly frustrated with Dzanan Musa for a missed assignment. The tide would turn in the quarter as the Nets clamped down on defense. They ended the quarter on a 24-12 run taking a five-point lead into halftime. The highlight of the run was a reverse alley-oop slam by DeAndre Jordan from Spencer Dinwiddie.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot a.k.a. TLC continued to have success in his perimeter shooting as he went 2-3 from distance in the corner. Wilson Chandler also had a strong first half pouring in nine points off the bench.
But third quarters have long plagued the Nets and this game was no different. Dallas started the quarter on a 13-4 run. Seth Curry was the star of the quarter and at times it was almost as if you were watching his brother out there. Curry had some tough finishes around the rim and also made all three of his 3-point shots en route to a 15 point quarter. With Spencer Dinwiddie picking up his 4th foul early in the quarter, the Nets bench was relied on heavily and they came through for Kenny. Theo Pinson and Dzanan Musa each scored seven points in the quarter and Rodions Kurucs gave some nice hustle. The two teams would enter the 4th quarter tied at 93.
The whole game it felt like the Mavs were just a quick run from putting the game out of reach. Well, that was the case in the 4th quarter. After the teams went blow for blow at the start of the quarter the Mavericks went on a 10-2 run with less than five minutes left in the quarter. They blossomed their lead to eight with just over three minutes left and at that point, it seemed almost insurmountable. Luka Doncic, who had been fairly quiet by Luka standards appeared when he was needed most and was the catalyst behind the game-clinching run. Dallas would go on to outscore Brooklyn 30-18 in the quarter ending in a 123-111 victory.
Luka led all scorers with 31 points and 13 rebounds, falling three assists shy of a triple-double. Seth Curry ended with 25 points shooting a perfect 5-5 from 3-point range. For the Nets, Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets with 19 points while Dzanan Musa poured in 14 of his own. After starting the game 5-10 from 3-point range the Nets finished shooting a mere 32% (12-37) compared to the Mavericks who shot 46% (18-39). Three-point shooting was the big difference-maker in the second half as the Nets only made four total shots from deep to the Dallas’ ten.
As for the positives from this game, there were a few. The first being Wilson Chandler looks to be returning to form with each game played. He finished with 11 points going a perfect 4-4 on his field goal attempts including a 3-pointer from the corner. He also had some nice floaters which is a good sign as the Nets desperately need as much help on offense as they can get. The play of Musa and Kurucs was a welcome sign as well. Kurucs looks to be getting back to what he was like last season for the Nets. He was more aggressive on his drives and looked to shoot when open from deep.
With Caris LeVert set to return for Brooklyn’s next game it should take some pressure off of Dinwiddie. Spencer failed to score 20 points in a game for the first time in over a month. The team hosts the defending champion Toronto Raptors at Barclay’s Center Saturday.