Nets vs. Heat Recap: Furious Fourth-Quarter Comeback Falls Short in Miami
The Nets have been in a free-fall. The team hasn’t won a game since Jan. 21, and that didn’t change with a trip to Miami on Saturday night.
Newly acquired players Andre Drummond and Seth Curry were unavailable for the matchup as the blockbuster trade with Philadelphia was not officially complete before James Harden passed his physical. That wrinkle left Brooklyn undermanned once again, causing the team to fall just short of taking down the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Both teams played at an incredibly fast pace, which led to plenty of open buckets. Despite being undersized, Brooklyn was able to create turnovers on the defensive end, allowing them to score at will. Blake Griffin particularly made an immediate impact, knocking in a few shots while making the hustle plays that earned him a spot in the ‘Blue Collar Boyz.’
Kyrie Irving made his presence known quickly, sinking a few mid-range jumpers. However, towards the end of the quarter, he went down hard and had to go into the locker room. Nonetheless, the Nets battled and went into the next period tied at 26.
Cam Thomas went on a roll to start the second quarter, scoring six straight points for Brooklyn. Miami responded effectively, though, scoring eight quick points to take a 40-34 lead and forcing Steve Nash to use a timeout. Irving returned later in the quarter, but the Nets struggled to find a rhythm as they fell behind by ten. The Heat led 64-58 heading into halftime with the lone bright spot for Brooklyn being the rookie Thomas, who had 15 points in the second quarter alone.
The third quarter was disastrous for Brooklyn, as the team fell apart at the seams. Both Irving and Mills could not find their stroke, missing many open looks. Bam Adebayo powered Miami to an 80-61 lead in just a few minutes, and the Nets had zero answers for the Heat’s offensive onslaught. Brooklyn’s shooting in the period was atrocious, trailing by as many as 21 points.
However, everything changed in the fourth period. Irving finally found a groove, scoring at will on a tough Miami defense, and Brooklyn was able to create second-chance opportunities that slowly brought them within striking distance.
In the final minutes, things got quite intense. Thomas hit a ridiculous step-back three-pointer on Kyle Lowry to pull the Nets within one point of the Heat.
A few moments later, Jimmy Butler missed a crucial free throw, and the Heat only led by just two with 13 seconds left. But the Nets’ final possession did not go as planned. Lowry ended up with a game-clinching steal after the Nets failed to successfully get the ball to Irving, though it can be argued Lowry should have been called for a foul. Still, Brooklyn was unable to get a shot off, and two free throws sealed the deal for Miami. The Heat won 115-111, handing Brooklyn their 11th straight loss.
Kyrie Irving’s Fourth-Quarter Turnaround
Irving has been unable to get into an early rhythm as of late, which has hurt Brooklyn on the road during the team’s losing streak. While he had a spectacular fourth quarter, Irving struggled during the first 36 minutes of the game, which contributed to the Nets falling into another big deficit. Irving may still be finding his groove, or his injury may have bothered him early. Still, the Nets have missed his production early in games.
As the season continues, and if the COVID-19 mandates potentially lift, Irving will have the opportunity to improve his consistency. However, if the Nets want to break their losing streak, Irving has to be a factor from the get-go. On Saturday night, he was not effective until it was essentially too late, and it came back to bite them in the end.
With that being said, Irving showed why he is truly one of a kind, scoring 18 straight points for Brooklyn in the team’s fourth-quarter comeback. It would have been a heck of a statement if the Nets could have pulled it off to end the losing streak, but it can still be something to build on in the next game.
The goal for Brooklyn remains the same: To find a way to win. With the reinforcements of Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and eventually Ben Simmons on the way, the Nets hope they will have the firepower necessary to put a win on the board.
Considering Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge’s returns seem to be on the horizon as well, Brooklyn has a chance to go on a winning streak once the All-Star break is over. But all the Nets can worry about is the present and entering the break with as much momentum as possible, even if that means just one elusive win.