Kyrie Irving came back from his shoulder injury as if he never missed a beat, but despite having another incredible night it still wasn’t enough as the Brooklyn Nets fell to the Utah Jazz, 118-107, last nit at the Barclays Center.
In his second night back after missing two months after being sidelined due to a shoulder injury, the Nets wasted a double-double performance from Irving, who finished the night with 32 points, 11 assists and added 5 rebounds for good measure.
After missing 26 games the Nets (18-20) and their fans were itching for their all-star point guards return, but more importantly, they were longing for the high impact performances Irving is known for. Unfortunately it didn’t come in a win, but the silver lining is how easily he shook off the dust.
“I’m just grateful to be out there,” Irving told reporters after the game. “Being out gave time to slow down, get healthy and put an emphasis on my body. Early in the season, I had three broken bones in my face & I got hit again in China. I think that’s what attributed to my shoulder impingement, trying to make up for lost time.”
For everyone, not just Nets fans it’s good to have Irving on the court, but the rest of his teammates have to pick up the pieces.
“I put in a lot of work while no one was watching and just tried to put a great game together, but it doesn’t really matter what type of performance you have if you’re not leading your team to wins,” said irving.
Down by two, the Nets allowed a 14-2 run by the Jazz (28-12 )to end the first half. Things only got worse from thereafter Donovan Mitchell, who scored 25 points, opened the second half with a 3-pointer. Joe Ingles followed by drilling a three-pointer, and the Nets found themselves down 76-56.
“What you saw backs up their stellar play recently. They’ve No. 1 offense over the last 15 or 20 games and we could never find a way to stop them. Just that simple,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “Transition defense, pick-and-roll defense, rebounding, physicality, I think they just dominated.”
Beyond Irving the Nets looked like a sinking ship with disappointing performances across the board. Caris LeVert, who also was out for an extended period of time because of a hand injury, shot just 38 percent from the field to finish the night with 11 points, adding very little else on the night.
Dinwiddie who added 17 points was a -13 for the game, and went through extended periods of shooting droughts. Taurean Prince did not fare any better, with 6 points in 30 minutes on the floor.
The Nets also shot just 8-of-26 from deep. Joe Harris was just 1-of-5 and Prince was 0-for-4.
The soft-spoken Jarrett Allen(eight points, two boards) was absolutely dominated by Rudy Gobert who put up 22 points and a game-high 18 rebounds, showing that his off-court demeanor is very much a part of his on-court attitude. Ingles also lit up the Barclays Center with a 27 point performance.
Things won’t get any easier for the Nets who will go on the road to face the Philadelphia 76ers next, to return back to Brooklyn to host the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers and another match against the Sixers––All playoff-bound teams, with a real shot at making the NBA finals.
“Mentally we’ve got to be prepared because we played a tough one,” said LeVert about their upcoming matchup against the Sixers. “Philly’s a good team and obviously they have a great crowd, it’s just going in there mentally prepared and we’ll do a good job.”