Trading away four players – including three starting-caliber regulars – was always going to leave the Nets shorthanded. Just how shorthanded was driven home Wednesday, as their bench got humiliated in a loss at Cleveland.
Brooklyn’s reserves got outscored 44-10 by the Cavs, taking it on the chin in the second quarter and essentially left on the bench in the fourth and both overtimes. By the time Collin Sexton hit a tying 3 with :01 left, the starters looked gassed.
Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Jeff Green and backup Joe Harris played every second of both overtimes, with all but Durant on the floor for the entire fourth quarter as well. Was that game flow or just lack of trust in the bench?
“A little bit of both,” Steve Nash admitted. “First of all, we found ourselves in a hole. The second unit got beat up pretty good in the 2nd quarter. We relied on our star players. So, when you get yourself in a dogfight when you’re trying to find (a way to) climb out of a hole it’s hard to really go to the bench. We’re in the game, we had a chance to come back. We got ourselves back, we got a chance to win and we didn’t do it. So right now it looks like we made the wrong decision.
“But if they don’t make that 3 at the end of first overtime, it looks like it was worthwhile. So sometimes you roll the dice. The second unit didn’t perform the way we think they could, so we didn’t go back to them as long and we kept the rotation shorter and we end up losing. So you could say that was the wrong decision; but you can also say we gave ourselves a chance and had a three-point lead with a few seconds left in overtime.”
The Nets are operating with three open roster spots after the deal that brought in Harden but shipped Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince to Cleveland, Caris LeVert to Indiana and Rodions Kurucs to Houston.
Prince, Allen and LeVert started 156 games last season for Brooklyn, which saw five players log at least 45 minutes Wednesday, DeAndre Jordan get 24 and three others limited to 11 or fewer.
Allen made his Cavs debut with a dozen points, 11 rebounds, four blocks for a plus-10 against his old team. Prince added 17 points and was a game-high plus-20.
The Cavs players said they wanted to win the game for the duo against the team that traded them away.
“Definitely. They wouldn’t back down. I didn’t know it was for me, but now that I’m looking back they didn’t back down for a second. And I appreciate every single effort, and I still want the win on Friday too,” said Allen.
YES’ telecast of Wednesday’s Nets tilt averaged 159,000 total viewers in the New York DMA, their most-viewed Brooklyn game in six years (since drawing 179,000 for a Dec. 8, 2014 game vs. the Cavs.
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