It was sloppy. Ugly even, but the Nets youth corps ultimately made it bearable as they took advantage of yet another opportunity late. They didn’t save the day though. Final score (and it wasn’t that close) 76ers 115, Nets 104.
“Obviously we didn’t play well tonight but it happens. The guys have been great. Just look at this as a stepping stone. The guys finished the game pretty strong. Played well, played with a whole bunch of intensity, physicality and we know what we need to do. We know what we need to build and bounce back with practice,” Steve Nash said after the preseason defeat.
The preseason outcome was a bit of an afterthought for both teams. Twice during the action, Adrian Wojnarowski broke in with some news about the 76ers and Nets prodigal guards: Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving.
Woj reported that Simmons had ended his holdout and returned to Philadelphia, even traveled to the Wells Fargo Center and got a COVID test. He also speculated that the Nets are not yet resigned to playing Irving as a part-timer, that that the decision-making on what they’ll ultimately do — short-term as well as long-term — with Irving rests with Joe Tsai, Sean Marks and the other two members of the “Big Three,” Kevin Durant and James Harden. Irving of course is prohibited from playing at home until he’s vaccinated.
The game, which left both teams 2-1 in preseason, wasn’t much of a contest till the end.
After entering the fourth quarter trailing by 27 points — and showing little energy on defense, the Nets went all-in with its youth corps and made the blowout a game. Brooklyn, behind the play of the rookies and 26-year-old Jevon Carter — 16 points, three rebounds and one assist in 26 minutes — crawled back but couldn’t overcome the deficit. In addition to Carter, acquired from Phoenix in the off-season, Cam Thomas finished with 10 points in 12 minutes, hitting all four of his shots, including two from deep. Day’Ron Sharpe, Kessler Edwards and David Duke Jr. didn’t put up big offensive numbers but all three played solid D. The three finished with positive +/-’s of 9, 9 and 11.
Durant and Harden, who looked much sharper Monday night, finished with a team-high 23 and 21 points, Durant hitting 9-of-13 overall and Harden 8-of-14 shooting from the field. The two combined to shoot 5-of-10 from deep. The Nets guard also recorded four rebounds, four assists and five turnovers in his 28 minutes of play.
The Nets superstar duo were the only starters to finish in double-figures. Overall, the brightest spot for Brooklyn, other than the kids’ comeback, was their 3-point shooting. The team shot 47.1 percent from beyond the arc.
It was the Nets’ sloppy play and defense early that were the deciding factors in the loss. Brooklyn coughed up a total of 27 turnovers in the loss, translating to 25 points for the Sixers. Paul Millsap, who was cleared late after missing the Bucks game due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, noted the Sixers physical play was big.
“They were playing physical. Give them credit but also, we had a lot of unforced turnovers. Just unacceptable. It doesn’t matter since its preseason, but those are things we can fix. We can show that. We can take care of the ball better,” Millsap said after the loss.
The veteran added Harden agreed with his thinking.
“I had a conversation with James [Harden] on the bench and it’s about figuring it out. Five new guys. We got to learn each other’s tendencies. Got to learn each other’s strengths. We got to learn where we need to be on the floor. That takes time,” Millsap added. “We had a training camp but this is still training camp. Still preseason. We still got some time to evolve and get better. There’s also a whole long season ahead of us that we can continue to learn on the fly and continue to get better.”
Joe Harris added his thoughts, citing turnovers as an issue that plagued the Nets during some of their more disparaging losses a season ago.
“It’s sort of a problem area for us that we experienced a lot last year where we turned the ball over a little bit too much where, in-game, the huge shot discrepancies would be 14-15 field goals different,” explained Harris. “It’s tough to win games doing that where you’re just putting yourself in such a bind.”
The start was indeed tough for Brooklyn. The Sixers — a team without Simmons, Seth Curry, Tobias Harris, Shake Milton, Tyrese Maxey and Mattise Thybulle — piled on 37 points in the first, led by Joel Embiid with 14 points in eight minutes — the only action he saw during the night.
Although the Nets’ defense was certainly in preseason form early, the team got it together towards the end. Brooklyn had six turnovers in the period — to hit the second quarter trailing 37-25.
The issues carried over into the second quarter. Brooklyn coughed up three more turnovers in the opening five minutes and Philadelphia continued to take advantage of the mistakes. The Sixers’ three-balls continued to fall, leaving the Nets in a 51-35 hole with 7:15 remaining.
Brooklyn continued to look disorganized to finish up the second quarter, totaling 13 turnovers and handfuls of miscommunication on the defensive end. While frustration started to build due to the lack of foul calls, Durant picked up a technical after arguing a non-call with 39.9 seconds remaining.
By the time the halftime buzzer sounded, the Nets trailed 68-49. The Sixers concluded the first-half shooting 58.7 percent from the field and 47.4 percent from three. Meanwhile, Brooklyn shot 48.7 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from deep, led by Harden — who looked sharper — with 16 points, three rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes followed by Durant with 14 points in 17 minutes. Carter provided Brooklyn with a must-needed burst of five points and solid defense in eight minutes off the bench.
The Nets trimmed the deficit to 14 points with 8:03 remaining behind a pair of threes from Griffin and Durant, leaving the Sixers to call a timeout. While Brooklyn continued to chip away, minor tensions started to brew between Durant and Andre Drummond, who needed to be separated by officials after the Nets superstar wasn’t happy with Drummond after a defensive play.
The Nets concluded the third quarter on a sloppy note, coughing up a total of 21 turnovers before heading into the final 12 minutes of play. The final two minutes of the third included back-to-back turnovers by Thomas
Furkan Korkmaz led the Sixers with 27 points in 33 minutes followed by Isaiah Joe with 20 points in 27 minutes, boosting Philadelphia to their second preseason victory.
After reporting in the first half that Ben Simmons had arrived in Philadelphia (a tweet that was greeted by chants of “Simmons sucks” at the Wells Fargo Center), Woj spoke with Doris Burke and Mike Breen at the half about the Nets situation with Kyrie Irving.
Woj said that Kevin Durant, James Harden, Joe Tsai and Sean Marks will all be involved in deciding whether or not Kyrie Irving can be a part-time player this season. He also said that Irving’s short-term and long-term future with the team remains in question. Here’s the clip…
Woj with the latest on Kyrie Irving.
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) October 12, 2021
Early in the game, Burke had let her opinion be known as well. Burke was asked about Irving’s situation before the Sixers game and said Irving as a part-time player would be “so disruptive and somewhat destructive” to the Nets’ championship hopes.
Following the game, Nash said that indeed there will be joint discussion re: Irving’s status but said nothing was close.
“We have a pretty collaborative environment,” said Steve Nash. “I think we’d all weigh in and discuss it and make sure to make a decision that suits the group. But like I said, so far I think for now right now he’s trying to take things day-by-day and try to learn as much as we can about what this looks like — it’s pretty unprecedented. So if we have information, we’ll let you know, but there’s nothing to decide.”
The Film Room
It’s tough to deny that Jevon Carter has looked impressive so far. His defense has been as advertised; he picks up dudes a full 94 feet up the floor. He’s an absolute mensch with digs in the post and on wobbly drives. He blows up screens in the pick-and-roll and turns corners like a souped-up sportscar to get back into the play if he does get nailed by a pick.
What has been a bit of a surprise is his offensive output. Continuing his strong three-point shooting from 2020-2021 is one thing, but he’s flashed a little extra if he’s run off the line. This one-dribble pull-up 15-footer is a nifty weapon to have if his defender closes out hard with a “fly by.”
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) October 12, 2021
It’d be nice to see some more rim pressure from the 26-year-old, for sure. His 2% rim frequency ranked within the 7th percentile (that’s super low!) at his position last season. In tight crowds on the move, the passing chops could certainly be better.
But for a guy that was basically a throw-in in the Landry Shamet-to-Phoenix deal, getting a player that is this self-aware, sufficient in multiple skills on both ends of the floor — that’s pretty nifty stuff from Sean Marks. There’s a chance he can overtake some of the more established Nets in the rotation. He’s that good.
The Nets were without several rotation members beyond Kyrie Irving. DeAndre’ Bembry missed the game following a dental procedure. Nic Claxton missed the game with a non-COVID illness, DeVontae Cacok was out with groin soreness and Nash rested LaMarcus Aldridge.
Brooklyn has one more remaining preseason game before the regular season gets going. The Nets will host the Timberwolves on Thursday, Oct. 14 at Barclays Center. The final preseason contest is set to tip at 7:30 PM ET.
For a different perspective, check out Liberty Ballers — our sister site covering the Sixers.
- Box Score: Philadelphia 76ers 115, Brooklyn Nets 104 – NBA.com
- Game Highlights: Philadelphia 76ers 115, Brooklyn Nets 104 (Video) – NBA.com
- 76ers top Nets 115-104 in preseason as star guards sit out – AP
- James Harden tests new foul-drawing rules in Nets’ win over 76ers – Brian Lewis – New York Post
- Lackadaisical Nets minus Kyrie drop preseason game in Philadelphia – Greg Logan – Newsday
- Blake Griffin likes energy Kyrie Irving brings to Nets – Greg Logan – Newsday
- Kyrie Irving has plunged the Nets into the Twilight Zone – Kristian Winfield – New York Daily News
- Nets takeaways from 115-104 preseason loss at 76ers, including Kevin Durant and James Harden without Kyrie Irving – Garrett Stepien – SNY
- Steve Nash: Nets ‘feel good’ about readiness for 2021-22 regular season despite moving parts, including Kyrie Irving’s vaccine status – Garrett Stepien – SNY
- NBA Analyst Warns A Part-Time Kyrie Irving Would Be ‘Disruptive’ And ‘Destructive’ To Nets’ Title Hopes – Adam Zagoria – Forbes Sports Money
- Ben Simmons arrives in Philadelphia for COVID test; Sixers want him back – Keith Pompey – Philadelphia Inquirer