The Nets fell to the Toronto Raptors 123-117 on Friday night, in what may be the weirdest game of Kevin Durant’s career. For starters, Durant came off the bench for the first time in his entire career. Durant was removed from the starting lineup shortly before tipoff due to health and safety protocols. When the NBA determined that Durant was eligible to play, he entered the game as a reserve. Durant played only 19 minutes before the NBA forced him to leave the game due to health and safety protocols. However, even without Durant for the majority of the game, the Nets lost the game on the defensive end.
The Nets Defense Struggled in Clutch Time
Toronto was able to score 123 points against Brooklyn’s poor defense. Siakam led the way with 33 points and 11 rebounds. Kyle Lowry poured in 30 points of his own, including 6 three-pointers. There was one play down the stretch that really summed up the game in a nutshell. The Nets played excellent defense to force a contested three-pointer, which resulted in a miss. The rebound came towards three Nets players and Toronto’s Norman Powell. After many bobbles and deflections, Powell was able to corral the miss and earn his team another possession. The Nets looked gassed and failed to close out on a Fred VanVleet three-pointer which stretched the Raptor lead to 6 points with under 2 minutes left. This shot by Vanvleet, who had a relatively quiet night, was the mental dagger that ended the game.
The Nets came back from a large deficit early, showing good fight and resilience all game. Brooklyn’s normal weaknesses weren’t exploited that much tonight. The Nets have been criticized for their lack of rebounding, but only were outrebounded by 1 rebound. The Nets also moved the ball around well, dishing out 29 assists. Lastly, Brooklyn shot over 40% from three but also allowed Toronto to shoot a similar percentage. James Harden still looks a little reluctant to shoot. Harden only attempted 8 shots, while Jeff Green and Kyrie Irving led the team in shot attempts with 12 apiece. Given the KD situation, this was a very bizarre game, and coach Steve Nash did everything he could to adjust the gameplan at the last minute. Overall, this was an encouraging loss summarized by an inspiring comeback effort that fell just short.