Nets’ second-half fade proves expensive in loss to Thunder
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Nets simply accomplished a successful highway journey, however they missed out on an important one.
After seeming to expire of gasoline Tuesday night time on the tail finish of the five-game journey, the Nets blew a double-digit lead in a 121-107 loss to the Thunder at Paycom Heart.
Regardless of finishing their western swing with a 3-2 mark, the Nets had each alternative to make it 4-1, and 6 wins of their final seven. However they couldn’t maintain a 16-point second-quarter lead as they wilted down the stretch.
“They play good collectively,” Dorian Finney-Smith had warned beforehand of the Thunder. “Mark [Daigneault] bought them enjoying very nicely. They area out and assault, they’ve bought probably the most area targets within the paint, they play good in transition. They’re a superb group.
“They’ve been getting higher all 12 months. They’re scrappy, they by no means surrender, they by no means cease enjoying. So we’re going to should convey it; it’s important to convey all of it recreation, as a result of they aren’t going to cease enjoying.”
Finney-Smith’s considerations proved prophetic.
It wasn’t a case of a hangover from their assertion win Sunday at West-leading Denver, not after the Nets constructed an enormous cushion: 62-46 after a pair of free throws by Spencer Dinwiddie with 1:23 to go earlier than halftime. However that victory could have taken one thing out of them, as a result of they allowed an 18-3 run over a 4 ¹/₂-minute stretch of the third quarter that their legs simply by no means appeared able to getting back from.
That blitz flipped an eight-point Nets lead right into a seven-point gap. It gave Oklahoma Metropolis an 83-76 benefit with 2:42 left within the third that the Nets couldn’t overcome as they fell to 39-30.
Mikal Bridges had a team-high 34 factors for the Nets, and Cam Johnson added 23 factors.
Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a game-high 35 factors, whereas Lu Dort added 24 factors, 9 boards and shot 6-for-11 from 3-point vary.
“We wish to conclude the journey in the suitable method, attempting to get a win,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn mentioned earlier than the sport. “Lots of issues they current. It begins with [Gilgeous-Alexander] and his capability to get buckets, make photographs. To have a man rating 30 and never make a 3 is fairly spectacular to point out how they play: Very decided to get to the paint, get to their spots.
“Then they’ve a number of ball-handlers, whether or not it’s [Josh] Giddey, [Jaylin] Williams, Dort, it’s throughout the board. Like dimension, they’re capable of push the tempo transition-wise, get into your paint. And in the event that they do miss they’re high 10 in offensive rebounding. So a number of areas that we’re nonetheless battling. That’s a problem for us. So it’ll be a battle of the paint and a battle of the rebounding for certain.”
The Nets misplaced that battle of the paint, unable to chop off drives.
They noticed the Thunder (34-35) a fast lead proper from the opening faucet, falling behind 7-0 on a driving reverse by Gilgeous-Alexander simply two minutes in. However the Nets promptly seized management — at the least for some time, mounting an 18-5 run to take a six-point lead.
Johnson drilled a 3-pointer on a Nic Claxton kick-out, capping the run and placing the Nets forward 18-12 with 5:37 left within the first quarter.
Dinwiddie’s free throws padded the Nets’ cushion with 1:23 left within the half, and so they nonetheless led by 10 going into the break. However after holding the Thunder to 2-for-13 capturing from deep within the first half, that modified within the second.
The Nets conceded the primary six factors popping out of the locker room, with a Dort 3-pointer chopping the result in simply 64-60. Quickly, it disappeared altogether.
A Dinwiddie basket pushed the lead again to 69-63, and Bridges’ baseline dunk made it 73-65 and despatched Oklahoma Metropolis right into a timeout with 7:11 left within the third.
However that momentum didn’t final.
“They play quick. They create a number of turnovers,” Royce O’Neale had warned. “So simply us caring for the ball, making the suitable reads on offense, being disruptive on protection, attempt to get transformed on a quick break. And simply enjoying as a group. That’s our largest factor proper now.”
After Gilgeous-Alexander lower it again to 75-73, he knotted the rating on a finger roll with 4:28 left. Then Dort untied it, drilling a 3-pointer off a Giddey feed.
Vaughn went scrambling for a timeout with the Nets down 78-75 with 3:40 remaining within the third, however it was to no avail. Giddey fed Isaiah Joe for a runner that capped the 18-3 blitz, and left the Nets in an 83-76 gap.
The deficit swelled to double digits at 90-80 within the last minute of the third quarter.
“We’re positively going to should hold them out of the paint, as a result of they do a superb job of getting within the paint and enjoying off one another,” Dorian Finney-Smith mentioned. “They’re a superb group … so we’re going to should exit right here and deal with them like we want this win.”