The Brooklyn Nets no longer command the National Basketball Association’s Eastern Conference, having lost the top spot to the Chicago Bulls on the back of a historic pair of games for DeMar DeRozan.
DeRozan became the first player in NBA history to hit consecutive game-winning buzzer-beaters in games on back-to-back nights, punishing the Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards at the death. The Bulls are now leading things out East and it appears it’s going to be a pretty interesting run to the end of the regular season.
Meanwhile, the Nets appear to be going through a bit of a struggle after losses against the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers.
Nets star forward and leading MVP candidate Kevin Durant did not mince words after the New Year’s Day Clippers loss.
“I mean, hopefully, a loss like this will sit in your brain until tomorrow, you know what I’m saying?” Go out there and … do your job as an individual. You can be the best at that job, and now you can bring it to the collective. It’s always about the collective. So if you ain’t feeling like s–t after this game, you got to look yourself in the mirror,” Durant told reporters after the game.
The Nets were in control down the final stretch, holding a 13-point lead. Both Durant and James Harden had good scoring outputs, 28 and 34 points respectively, but a lack of defense saw them blow the lead.
“We’re going to continue to get our ass kicked if we don’t approach the game the proper way,” Durant said. “It’s about the group. It’s about how we’re going to come out here and be the best that we can be.”
“We knew it was gonna take some time and it’s still a process, but I feel like we are in the right direction, as far as just communicating defensively, being on the same page. Offensively, knowing some sets that we can get into with different lineups out there, and then executing,” James Harden said. “That’s pretty much what we’ve been working on, and what’s been happening in these last few games. We’ve got a long way to go. Long way to go,” Harden added. “But we’re definitely in the right direction, and it feels good.”
This latest loss means the Nets are in a bit of a slump and they’re now a full game behind the Bulls in the East while the Milwaukee Bucks have amassed more wins after a six-game winning streak and the Miami Heat are also level in the win column.
The Nets, though, are still favorites for the NBA Championship this season and the odds at Wynnbet New York surely reflect as much.
Of course, the Nets aren’t lacking in talent. They have two of the best players in the game playing full-time while another, Kyrie Irving has been welcomed back on a part-time basis and will be able to play games on the road.
Durant, as well as head coach Steve Nash, have suggested that the team needs a change of attitude. It remains to be seen as to whether that will be the case when they face the feisty Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night, a game in which they could be without center LaMarcus Aldridge.
“It just wasn’t the requisite energy, and the fight wasn’t there on enough possessions. You could really see it throughout the game,” Nash was quoted as saying. “But to give up 71 in the second half is way outside of what we’ve done this year. Something we’re going to have to take to heart and rebuild.”
Brooklyn will take comfort in the fact that they have managed to bounce back emphatically after negative results, with their best runs usually following disheartening losses. They won five in a row after a loss to the heat at home last year and won three straight after losing to the Bulls.
Another four came after a blowout 117-99 loss to the Golden State Warriors and a shocking reverse to the Houston Rockets prompted another streak, four games.
Their game against Memphis could possibly kick off yet another winning run but the Ja Morant-led Grizzlies have shown they’re capable of taking down the best in the league this season and a third-straight loss is also a possibility for the wavering Nets.
They have, in fact, lost four straight games to the Grizzlies, which marks their longest active negative streak against any team. The Grizzlies are on a hot streak themselves, having won four straight fixtures, which includes an impressive victory over the Phoenix Suns.
Morant is averaging 24.7 points, 6.6 assists, and 5.7 rebounds so far this season and scored 30 in his last game, vs. the San Antonio Spurs.
The Nets will hope for an improvement on the defensive end after allowing 40 points on 52.2 percent shooting in the fourth quarter on Saturday.
“Obviously I tell them that that can’t be us,” Nash added. “And that can’t be the level that we’re going to accept and that we have to decide what’s acceptable for us and what’s not.”