Nets vs Clippers Recap: Fourth Quarter Collapse Leads to Nets Loss
The Brooklyn Nets start the new year off on the wrong foot. After leading by 13 with five minutes to go in the 4th, the Nets straight up collapsed, allowing the Clippers to win 120-116. With this loss, the Nets have now lost back-to-back games, thus resulting in their first official losing streak of the season.
The first quarter was a rather slow start. After starting off the game shooting 4-for-5 from the field, the Nets went cold for a little bit. Thankfully, with the play of MVP candidate Kevin Durant, the Nets were able to stabilize and claw their way back. The high-energy play of center Nic Claxton was also a driving force in the first quarter, where a punctuating dunk brought the Nets to a 30-29 lead at the end of the first.
The second quarter brought more of the sloppy play issues that plagued the first. Though the Nets played solid defense, holding the Clippers to only 20 points, they committed three turnovers, to bring the first-half total to five. What hurt the Nets more was their lack of finishing in the paint. In atypical fashion, the Nets were 12/30 in shots in the paint and shot 39 percent overall. Regardless, the Nets maintained a 53-49 halftime lead.
The third quarter brought on a James Harden masterclass, where he put up 16 of Brooklyn’s 34 third-quarter points. However, the Clippers kept it close, which was the theme of the night. Even with the Nets making their push, they still only led by single digits.
The fourth quarter looked like it was time for the Nets to close things out. In what Nets fans have been used to all season, in close games, the Nets will close it out. Things sure seemed that way when the Nets went up 13 with 5 minutes to go. With sharpshooter Patty Mills fouling out, the Clippers knew to hound Durant and Harden on defense, as they were the main sources of offense tonight. The Nets then let the Clippers outscore them by 17 points in those final minutes. What seemed like a sure win, just became a gut-wrenching, reality-checking loss.
Laziness and Attitude the Root Causes
The uncharacteristic loss can be traced back to Brooklyn’s effort. From the tip, it seemed that the Nets were sleepwalking through the game and playing lazily. This lazy play can be seen with the fourteen turnovers and lackadaisical defense. Many of the 14 turnovers can be contributed to slow and forced passes that did not need to be done. Brooklyn also allowed the Clippers to drive into the paint and create with ease. With no resistance in the paint, and careless passing leading to turnovers, the aggressive Clippers were able to spark their comeback victory.
The mundane play also led to the Nets settling, whether it meant just standing around for stagnant offense, or jump shots that did not need to be taken. The Nets will need to lock back in and become aggressive again to get back into their winning ways.
Stars Are the Greatest Equalizer
Despite the reality-check, there is one thing for certain for Brooklyn. Their superstars are the greatest equalizer. While Brooklyn was having a bad game overall, Kevin Durant and James Harden were able to pick up the slack and put the Nets on their back. James Harden had his fourth straight triple-double, with 34 points, 13 assists, and 12 rebounds. Kevin Durant tacked on 28 points and 9 rebounds. Their timely plays are what could have propelled the Nets to victory.
The supporting cast for Brooklyn will need to find some consistency as the season goes along, but one thing is for certain. The Nets superstars will command the ship and put them in great positions to win. The reliance on Durant and Harden has shown in the large number of minutes they have played. But, the Nets will have an ace up their sleeve, as Brooklyn’s third superstar, Kyrie Irving, will be back on the court soon enough.
No Need to Panic
A common theme for Nets losses, especially ones like these, is the doom and gloom reactions. Concerns and criticisms of the Nets’ rotations, decision-making, etc. are valid, but thankfully the season is long. At this point in the season, there will be 48 games remaining in the regular season. That is plenty of time for the Nets to smooth out the issues and improve themselves in order to be ready for championship push come playoff time. The Nets are already doing that and looking to improve right after this loss. A good reality check is what will help build and make this team better.
Also, the Nets will have key players coming back onto the floor that will help improve the on-court performance. The aforementioned Kyrie Irving will join his fellow superstars as soon as January 5th in Indiana, or the following week in Chicago. Joe Harris is rehabbing from ankle surgery and will be back on the court soon. Adding Irving and Harris back into the rotation will do wonders in terms of rotations and spacing on the floor.
The Nets have a talented and smart group of veterans, alongside a group of young players that can contribute well. Though the experimentation may be a little frustrating now, in the long run, it will be beneficial once the Nets have the ideal lineup of players on the court. The Nets will be patient and will always think about the big picture, winning an NBA championship in June. If the Nets are patient and thinking long-term, Nets fans should too. Therefore, there is nothing to worry about.
The Nets will continue their homestand in Brooklyn. The red-hot Memphis Grizzlies will visit The Clays on Monday, January 3rd, with tip-off at 7:30 EST. Brooklyn is currently 23-11 and the second seed in the Eastern Conference, one game behind the Chicago Bulls.
For a video breakdown of the game check out SeverTheBond’s reaction vid: