NBA teams don’t give it their all every night – it’s impossible in an 82 game season. But no one should look as bad as the Brooklyn Nets did on their visit to play the Portland Trail Blazers, losing 124-80.
That’s the biggest loss for the Nets since a 47-point defeat against the Memphis Grizzlies on Dec. 13, 2003. It was the biggest win ever for the Blazers over a Nets team, in a game that was over midway through the second quarter.
Portland aren’t exactly playing with a full lineup; LaMarcus Aldridge is still out, and the same goes for Thomas Robinson, which they had only one true big, Robin Lopez, to play with. It didn’t really matter. Nicolas Batum pushed the pace early and the Nets, who have been less than average over the last 30 days, simply gave up.
This was one long garbage time game, with plenty of opportunities and focus on making some highlight plays. The Blazers scored 52 points in the paint and shot 53.5% from the field. Batum, with 19 points, led the team early on, but Mo Williams and Will Barton got plenty of minutes off the bench to improve their stats a little bit, getting 21 from Williams and 20 from Barton, as even Victor Claver and C.J. McCollum finished in double digits off the bench.
Damian Lillard scored 14 points and Robin Lopez had 11, but he got most of his attention for his celebrations of Barton’s dunks, pulling offf the bicycle move after each impressive dunk. Things were looking a lot more somber on the other bench.
The Nets didn’t turn the ball over much and didn’t have a historically bad night from the field. They were simply too slow and weak in the early goings and gave up quite quickly, knowing they have a back-to-back in Denver coming up next. With the age of their key players, conserving energy is a must, which is why actually thinking they have a shot of doing something special in the playoffs seems far fetched.
The small ball look fits the Blazers. It’s not the kind championship teams are made of, but they’re doing the most of a bad situation, rebounding from a rough patch before the All-Star break extremely well, looking fresh and getting more than one opportunity to let some of their best players finally rest. Luckily for them, the Thunder are in somewhat of a jam, and the top spot in the Western conference looks wide open once more.
The Nets had everyone available (Brook Lopez shouldn’t be mentioned anymore), three days of rest and still looked awful. This isn’t the first time in the last month they’ve looked this empty and lacking energy, which means that all that great work done in January might be unraveling as the aching bodies and old minds for some of these players can’t handle the long season and high level anymore.
But luckily for them, they have the players who are experienced enough to put terrible games like these behind them. Not having to play Western conference team too often is also another thing the Nets must be grateful for.