The Brooklyn Nets walked into Portland last night hoping to escape with another victory on their west coast road trip. Portland has struggled so far on the season and with a very vulnerable defense, things could’ve gone their way but unfortunately it was the poor defense from Brooklyn that ended up being the difference maker in the game as the Nets ended up losing 116-130.
Brooklyn saw big performances from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brook Lopez, Jeremy Lin, Sean Kilpatrick, and Spencer Dinwiddie but the inability to prevent C.J. McCollum and the rest of the Portland Trail Blazers from scoring proved to be too much for the Nets.
No Defense, No Victory
This game was pretty winnable for the Brooklyn Nets, but they let it slip away with little to no defense played against offensive threats like Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic. The Blazers were able to go inside and outside against the Nets at will, hanging 130 points on them with ease.
McCollum finished with 31 points, five assists, and five rebounds while being supported by four other players scoring 17+ points. Brooklyn allowed Portland to shoot 57 percent overall from the floor while also allowing an astonishing 16 made threes on 25 attempts. The Nets offered little to no resistance on the perimeter, players like McCollum and Lillard were able to do whatever they wanted.
In addition to allowing the Blazers to shoot 64 percent from deep, the Nets also allowed 29 assists and 48 points in the paint. The guards and wings were able to penetrate from the perimeter and either drive the lane or dish it off to a big man waiting with an open look.
This was without a doubt one of the worst defensive efforts from this team all season and unlike in times past, they don’t have the excuse of injuries to fall back on as only Joe Harris was out of the lineup. Portland was the better team offensively and it ended up being the difference maker in this game, because Brooklyn was cooking offensively.
Brook-Lin Was Feeling It Tonight
The highly anticipated Brook Lopez-Jeremy Lin duo was in full swing last night. After being separated due to injury, the chemistry between the two cornerstones of the franchise already appears to be strong. Jeremy Lin matched his season high in threes made with four on his way to 18 points, two assists, and three rebounds while Brook Lopez ended his night with 26 points, one assist, and five rebounds.
It is incredibly important for these two players to not only succeed together but also have good on-court chemistry. They are the unquestioned leaders of this team, as both are veterans and have ties to this team unlike anyone else on the roster.
Brook has cemented himself into the conversation as one of the best players to ever put on a Nets uniform after scoring his 10,000th point last week while Lin is an incredibly charismatic leader who has a great relationship with head coach Kenny Atkinson. Atkinson is famously seen as the architect to Linsanity in New York and Lin, despite not being built to thrive in a motion offense, is an extension of Atkinson on the court and is the keys to the offense’s success.
If Brook is going to be a Net for life, games like last night’s will need to become a regular occurrence for these two. Lin is still getting back into the swing of things after injury, but last night was arguably his best since coming back post All-Star break. Hopefully this sets a trend going forward for the remainder of the season, the fans need something to tune in for besides LeVert and Whitehead development minutes.
Sean Kilpatrick Looked Like The Skil Of Old
Few players have had more of an up and down season on this roster than Sean Kilpatrick. After getting out to a blazing start, he was soon exposed as the offense-only, hot handed scorer he is; then he went into a slump. Over the past 14 games, he has failed to score more than 10 points on seven occasions. But last night against Portland, he was feeling it to the tune of 20 points, five assists, and two rebounds on an incredible six of seven shooting from deep.
Not to take anything away from Skil, but I would like to point out that this was the same defense that Yogi Ferrell torched for nine threes and 32 points. Just another reminder to that small sect of Nets fans angry at Marks for letting Yogi go, if he didn’t play Portland he wouldn’t have exploded like that.
The key to Kilpatrick’s hot night came from a combination of open looks and having supreme confidence in his shot. Hot-hand scorers like him are often guys that once they get a couple makes under their belt, the rest is history. Once Kilpatrick got rolling, he couldn’t be stopped. Now if only he could get this way with his defense too.
Kilpatrick is a great player off the bench, but he won’t ever be taken seriously if he can’t get to a point where he isn’t a gigantic liability on defense. I love his game and his story. I hope defense is his primary focus this offseason.