It was the shadow of their first meeting against Denver this season. The Nets fought and fought to overcome an early double-digit deficit, winning it in the last minute.
Brooklyn overcame a 21-point deficit to defeat the tired Nuggets, 125-119. With the win, the Nets’ four-game-losing skid that peaked this season is shattered and the team improves to 44-24 on the season. The Nets are now back in second place in the East, half a game ahead of the Bucks with four games to go.
“They just played hard as hell. They fought, scrapped and a lot has got to go right, but when you play this hard you cover up mistakes and give yourself an opportunity. It was kind of the story of the game, it was those two halves, ”said Steve Nash of the comeback victory. “The first half, there was a little paralysis by the analysis. There was a bit of a loss of temper and in the second half, just dug deep and fought. [I’m] really proud of the effort they put in and I think they proved something for themselves tonight.
As the game entered the fourth, fatigue overtook Denver, who were playing the second leg back-to-back.
The Nets took their first lead since being 3-0 on a 23-foot-three turn by Joe Harris – who finished with eight runs on 3 of 6 shots from the field – to come back 111-110 with 6:12 to play. in an 11-2 run.
The game unfolded over time, with the Nets entering the last minute of play with a narrow 120-119 lead. Brooklyn took a huge late break after a costly Harris turnover. Facundo Campazzo stole a bad pass from Harris, but the Nuggets failed to capitalize on the quick break, giving the Nets the ball with 21.6 seconds still keeping that one point lead.
Denver fouled Kevin Durant on the finish, sending him on a charity strike, where he hit both free throws to extend Brooklyn’s lead to 122-119 with 21.0 seconds left. Jeff Green tied up Nikola Jokic for a jump ball, but again Denver failed to capitalize. The Nuggets big man missed a six-foot float and unusually lost it, resulting in a technical foul for chewing on officials. Durant froze the game with three free throws, scoring the last nine points for Brooklyn. It wasn’t just the Brooklyn attack that dominated the fourth. The Nets held Denver to 15 points in the final stanza.
“We haven’t changed anything. We just worked together and worked harder. There was less doubt. Sometimes the benefit of being depressed is that you don’t have time to analyze or doubt. You just have to play hard and pick it up, ”Nash said of the Nets’ second-half effort. “It was a big effort from the guys in the second half.”
Durant finished with 33 points, 11 points and seven assists. Griffin had his first 20-point game as a Net. And Green, as reliable as ever, had 15 points off the bench.
“That’s what we need Blake to be in terms of being out there, being an option for us and being a playmaker,” Irving said of Griffin’s performance. “His game has evolved. We understand that he’s going to play a different style with us there and that will compliment us when he understands that role. Right now we just need him to stay aggressive as our big one, especially on that defensive end. We ask a lot of him, so we have to help him as best we can. Tonight has been an excellent springboard for him as well as for his role within our team.
Kyrie Irving, who kept the Nets close in the middle quarters, finished with 31 points and four assists on 11 of 17 shots from the field and 4 of 7 from deep.
“The energy in the locker room has changed dramatically since the start of the match. I’ll tell you that. Just go out and be embarrassed like that on someone else’s floor for the third game in a row, give up over 30 points in the first quarter, then come out of a hole. Coming out of half time we just stepped up our efforts on both sides of the court, ”Irving said of the win. “We just had to resist a lot of their races.”
Denver burned Brooklyn out of the gates with higher energy and physicality at both ends of the ground. The Nets lacked defensive intensity, which allowed Porter Jr to go early, scoring 11 of the Nuggets’ first 13 points, leaving Steve Nash to call an early timeout behind 13-5.
Brooklyn recovered and responded, reducing the deficit to six points (26-20) – closest to the Nets in the first, which included a right-handed hammer slam from Durant, leaving the Ball Arena crowd in awe.
After a short burst from Brooklyn, Porter Jr continued on his strong start, finishing with 17 of Denver’s 37 points in the first quarter. The Nuggets finished the first frame shooting 60.9% from the field and 58.3% from the back of the arc, taking a 13-point lead (37-24).
It was an offensive clinic for Denver in the second and an embarrassing quarterback for Brooklyn. The Nuggets, behind the deep bench pieces, forged a 7-0 run. The run was cut short by a 26-foot three from Durant, but the momentum was still in Denver’s hands and scored with ease, feeding a 52-40 advantage with 6:39 left in the second.
It got even uglier as the quarter went on. Denver’s ball swing – 17 assists – and sharp shot (43.5% from depth) killed Brooklyn, leaving Nash visibly frustrated to call a time out in a 19-point hole with 4:11 left to play in. the half. The frustrated Nets struggled to stop the bleeding and their offense stalled with only Irving – 13 points on 4 of 11 shots – and Durant – 16 points on 5 of 7 shots – being the only double-digit Nets at the Pause. Meanwhile, Denver had four in that category, led by Porter Jr with 21 points on a heartbreaking 8-of-10 shot from the field and 5 of 6 from deep as Denver hit the break with a 15-point lead.
The Nets had to come out of the strong locker room and did, changing the momentum of the game and forging a 13-4 run triggered by a pair of Griffins threes and Irving’s parking lot shot to cut the deficit by six points. , leaving Mike Malone. to invoke an early timeout with 9:22 remaining in the third frame.
Enter Griffin – who couldn’t miss in the first half of the third and keep Brooklyn within shooting range on a 15-0 run to cut the three-point deficit halfway through the frame. The veteran went on to score 14 of Brooklyn’s 41 points in the third quarter of the period.
“His three kind of got us back into the game. I really thought it was his defense. It’s a tough game. This kid [Nikola Jokic] is so good, but he fought, ”Nash said of Griffin’s performance. “He scrapped. He made it work for that and like the other guys. Blake was fantastic with his three balls in the third quarter, but also just his willingness to fight. Jokic is the MVP this year and he was able to fight and make it difficult for him.
The Burning Griffin has been replaced and replaced by Claxton. The young Nets big defended Jokic who finished well with 29 in the dying minutes of the third, but the Nets’ offensive firepower did the damage, ranking 16 of 19 in the period to reduce the deficit to seven before the fourth.
“We had that confidence,” Griffin said. “Playing like that outside of half time, I mean it just shows that we had a different energy about us. Hope this gets us back on track. But we still have work to do. If this happens again, we need to keep the faith and do the same thing we did – dig deep and play harder.
What’s the lesson here? The Nets are never out of the game when two or more of the “Big Three” are on the field.
The cinema room
This is going to sound like lazy analysis. And to be honest, part of it is.
But sometimes the opponent gets hot. The! I said it!
Respect due Markus Howard, Facundo Campazzo, and the rest of Denver’s Unexpected Heroes, but check out a few of these snaps.
Like… there is, literally, nothing you can do about it as a defense.
Here, giving up a third side step to Markus Howard, who has only played 105 total minutes in his NBA career, is definitely a look you are okay with giving up. Still, the Nuggets are making the Nets pay. But again, there’s nothing you can do about it.
Which only meant that the pendulum could only rotate Brooklyn. Hitting 51% of three will do it for you!
Much of Brooklyn’s three-point boom came from none other than Blake Griffin, Brooklyn’s formidable market take that seems to be doing a bit of everything. 4 three points in the third quarter in one thing …
But when he exploits those three points to make edge shots with whimsical finishes, that’s where the money is made.
We have said it before and we will say it again. Blake Griffin was a massive robbery.
Milestone after milestone
- The Nets shot a season record 62.1 percent from the field.
- Brooklyn beat Denver 28-15 in the fourth quarter, scoring the fewest points the Nets have given in a road quarterback this season.
- Brooklyn fell 21 points, which was the Nets’ second biggest comeback this season (came back 24 points to defeat the Suns in Phoenix on February 16).
- Kevin Durant (33 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists) recorded his 11th double-double of the season (eighth points / rebounds). KD posted highs in points (34), rebounds (nine) and assists (13) in Brooklyn’s win over Denver on Jan. 12, the night before James Harden’s trade. For the two-game sweep, KD averaged 33, 10, and 10 with a 66/54/90 shooting line. (Who is the Joker now?)
- With 31 points tonight, Kyrie Irving has recorded more than 30 points in three straight games, a season high. This is the fourth time in Irving’s career that he has scored more than 30 points in three or more straight games and the first time since March 2019 with Boston (five in a row in a career).
- Brooklyn shot 16 of 19 (84.2%) during the period, the highest percentage the Nets have posted in any quarter of the season.
- Blake Griffin had his first 20-point game as a net (14 of his 20 points came in the third quarter). Griffin went 4 of 6 from distance, doubling his previous record for 3 points made as a net.
- The Nets are now 29-3 when they score at least 120 points.
The Nets will end their five-game road trip when the team travel to Windy City to take on the trembling Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, May 11. The game is scheduled to switch at 8 p.m. ET.
For a different perspective on Saturday’s contest, check out Denver Stiffs – our sister site covering the Denver Nuggets.