Nets vs. Nuggets Recap: Losing Streak Continues as Brooklyn Offense Stalls

Amidst all the James Harden noise and speculation, the Brooklyn Nets still had a basketball game to play. After a truly embarrassing performance against the Utah Jazz, Brooklyn was granted yet another opportunity to end their seemingly endless losing streak.

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Unfortunately for Brooklyn, the streak will continue as the Denver Nuggets handed Brooklyn their eighth consecutive loss on Sunday, causing the Nets to go winless on a five-game road trip for the first time since 2008.


The game started off rocky for the Nets as the first three minutes or so looked as if they were headed for yet another wire-to-wire loss. However, the team quickly woke up and so too did the offense. Blake Griffin gave the Nets a nice surprise cashing in on a few early three-pointers. Although the Nets couldn’t stop a nosebleed on defense in that first quarter, their offense was clicking.

Brooklyn received a great jolt of energy from their reserve guys such as Bruce Brown and DeAndre’ Bembry. Defense was leading to offense as the Nets were able to get out in transition for some easy buckets. Brown in fact had his best quarter of the season, tallying nine points and three rebounds in just four minutes of play. When the dust settled the Nets had put up a 40-spot in the first quarter all with Kyrie Irving only going 1-for-5 shooting.

The second quarter would see both teams continue to shoot the ball as if it were an All-Star game. It was an ironic clashing of styles as Denver was getting whatever they wanted in the paint and Brooklyn was making it rain from deep. Irving, who started the game off on the wrong foot began to gain his offensive rhythm and busted out some of his dribbling and finishing wizardry. Blake’s long-range assault continued, Cam Thomas started hitting shots, Nikola Jokić was doing Jokić things and not a shred of defense was being played. Well, that’s not entirely true considering Bembry had a monster block on DeMarcus Cousins. By halftime, the two teams had combined for 161 points. Brooklyn shot 52 percent from the field in the first half, which was dwarfed by Denver’s 62 percent shooting. The Nuggets also racked up 40 points in the paint.

Well Denver’s offense continued to scorch the basket in the second half, but unfortunately that wouldn’t be the case for Brooklyn as their offense went ice cold. The team put up a measly five points through the first six minutes of the third quarter and Denver used a 22–5 run to pull away. Once they built up a double-digit lead, they never looked back.

Kyrie (27 points, 5 rebounds, 11 assists) and company did their best to try and fight back into the game during the fourth quarter but the greatness of Jokić was just too much as Brooklyn ran out of gas down the stretch. To put into perspective how lifeless the Nets offense was in the second half, they scored more points in the first and second quarters of the game respectively than they did in the entire second half.

Here are two takeaways from Brooklyn’s 124–104 defeat:

Blake Griffin Masterclass

Finally, the Blake Griffin of last season makes an appearance! In what was his best game of the season, Griffin put on a performance that was unfortunately wasted in a losing effort. Griffin got the start and made his presence felt early knocking down a pair of triples. The energy Blake exuded on the offensive end was something that hasn’t been seen much, if at all, this season aside from maybe the Toronto game. Not only was Blake cashing his threes, but he was actually converting his shots inside the paint as well. Blake played a key role in Brooklyn’s 40-point first quarter tallying 10 points of his own and showing some fight on defense.

Obviously, the Nets can’t expect Blake to shoot 5-for-7 on three-point attempts each game but when his shot is falling it opens up the game not just for his teammates but for himself as well. A perfect example is Blake getting Jokić to bite on a pump fake at the top of the arc, which allowed for an easy layup at the rim. That closeout and biting on the fake would not have happened if Blake hadn’t hit his two prior threes. On its surface Blake finishing the game with a career-high 19 points looks great. But considering all 19 came in the first half it’s a bit puzzling why he wasn’t a factor at all in the second half especially with the Nets struggling mightily on offense.

An interesting stat of note. Griffin had the same amount of three-pointers made in this game as he had in his previous 17 games (5-for-29).

Energy and Fight

It might be cheesy and cliché but one of the encouraging things from this game was the energy and fight the team displayed at least during the first half. It would have been very easy for the Nets, fresh off the Jazz game and dealing with all the outside noise, to just phone in the last game of the road trip. However, the team showed a great deal of spirit and intensity in the first half, spearheaded by the energy guys Blake, Bruce, and Bembry. The bench was active in cheering on their teammates and for a brief stint, the vibes were good.

It looked like a team that was enjoying playing with each other. With all the trade talks and other things going on, this team is in the eye of the media storm, especially now with the losses piling up. If there is one thing for certain, it’s that there are still quite a few guys on this team that are willing to fight for their brother and give 110 percent effort while on the court, whether shots go in or not.