The Nuggets deepened the Nets’ crisis with a comfortable win. The Colorado team defeated the New Yorkers 124-104, handing them their eighth consecutive loss and leaving them out of the positions that give direct access to the playoffs. With a record of 29-24, Brooklyn is currently seventh in the East, while Denver holds on to sixth place in the West despite the efforts of the Timberwolves in pursuit.
Although they struggled to contain the visitors in the first half, Malone’s men controlled the game relatively placidly after the break. With a 31-16 run in the third quarter, the Nuggets took their lead to over 20 points, a situation caused by the Nets’ offensive shutdown in the second half. If in the first Nash’s team had added 75 points, in the second it was only 29, which made it easier for the locals to distance themselves more and more and close the duel without trouble.
Nikola Jokic was also responsible for it, who with a new exhibition of resources became master and lord of the party. The Serbian signed his 14th triple-double of the season by scoring 27 points, capturing 11 rebounds and dishing out 10 assists, and took advantage of Brooklyn’s interior weakness to add very easily in the zone. The center scored 12 of the 13 shots he made from it, helping his team add a total of 64 points in the paint.
Six of his teammates also reached double figures in scoring, and among them the 21 of Will Barton and the 17 of Aaron Gordon stood out, who also signed a fairly complete performance and added 9 rebounds and 7 assists. Monte Morris and Jeff Green, with 12 each, finished off a starting lineup that worked really well (all above +20), while Bryn Forbes and Zeke Nnaji led the second unit with 11 and 10 points respectively.
On the other side, the situation seems increasingly complicated, and although Nash tried to send a message of calm at a press conference, it is difficult to continue seeing these Nets as the super favorite that they seemed a few months ago. The casualties, once again, justify in a certain sense the image offered, but although the returns of Harden and, above all, of Durant, will undoubtedly help to reverse the current situation, not even they can cover all the holes that are being seen to the template.
Kyrie Irving, with 27 points and 11 assists, was the best of his team on another night as the only member of the Big 3 on the court. The point guard, however, will also have to stay out of several of the next games of his team, who return to New York after their five-game tour of the West, which only complicates things.
Cam Thomas and Blake Griffin, with 20 and 19 points, supported him in the best moments of the team, but they could not contribute as much in a second half in which the Nets came undone like sugar. The Celtics, direct rival in a streak of five consecutive wins, will be the next step in a duel that is promised as another possible setback for Brooklyn. We will see if this time its response capacity is greater.
(Cover photo: Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)