The woes continue for the Brooklyn Nets after losing their seventh straight game in the month of February before heading into the All-Star break.
The Nets(19-40) were in rare form to start their matchup against the playoff bound Indiana Pacers (33-25), but while there were some signs of life at the Barclays Center the results seemed to be more of the same after a 108-103 loss on Thursday night.
Once again it was the Nets defensive inefficiency that played a key role in their loss to the Pacers, who came into the game on a three game winning streak. Brooklyn gave-up 35 points on 9-of-20 shooting in the fourth-quarter and were unable to find their rhythm missing eight consecutive shots as well.
“We couldn’t stop them. Defense again I think was our Achilles heel. Thirty-five points is just too many,” said coach Kenny Atkinson after the game. “ That’s disappointing to give up that many points in the fourth quarter.”
It wasn’t all bad for Brooklyn as they came into the game focused and energetic behind another strong performance from fourth-year guard Allen Crabbe, who finished with a team-high 24 points, 10 of which came in the first quarter on 4-of-6 shooting.
Star point guard D’Angelo Russell, who is still on limited minutes after a knee injury that sidelined him for most of the first half of the season, also had a big game, finishing with 18 points, 9 assists and 1 turnover. DeMarre Carroll also contributed 21 points and 10 boards.
For three-quarters the execution was there for Brooklyn with ball movement, consistent shooting and defensive execution. Through three-quarters the nets shot 47.6 percent from the field and 39.3 percent on 11-of-28 shooting from behind the arch while holding the pacers to just 43 percent from the field.
The Nets are known to score big, they are also known to give up a lot of points as well, and against the Pacers the bad defensive habits came back to hurt them.
“Until we fix up our defense it’s going to be tough to get a W,” Continued Atkinson, who believes the break is much needed for his team, because they seem “fried” as of late.
After the Nets ended the third quarter red-hot with a six point lead after finishing with a 16-2 run, they immediately entered the fourth-quarter by giving up seven unanswered points to the Pacers. From that point on the Nets showed little fight to stay in the game falling apart on both ends of the floor.
“We’re not finishing games, and that comes with playing all 48 minutes and not just three quarters or forgetting to play in the last four minutes, making winning plays down the stretch,” said Russell who has scored in double figures in his last 3 consecutive games. “I think we’ll figure it out sooner or later and realize what we’ve got to do.
Brooklyn’s inability to play consistently for a full 48 minutes has been a theme for the first half of the season and it is apparent the losses are taking a toll on the players. With the arrival of All-Star break, the Nets hope to get things straightened out.
“We were definitely looking forward to getting this big win going into the All-Star break.” said Allen Crabbe, who is averaging 18 points and 5 rebounds per game over last two weeks. “Now we’ve got a week before our next game. Hopefully this break gives us some time to get our minds right, attack this second half of the season really well.”
The Nets next matchup is an away game on February 22, against the Charlotte Hornets. They will return to the Brooklyn on February 26, to face off the Chicago Bulls.