The Nets fall short for the Trail Blazers in coast-to-coast, back-to-back games

Thanks to a postponement of their scheduled game on Dec. 23 in Portland, the Nets fell victim to the NBA’s decision to make up the game by planning a rare coast-to-coast back-to-back game against the Trail Blazers Monday night at Moda Center .

One day after winning an overtime win at home over Spurs, the Nets flew across the country to get the chance to suffer a 114-108 loss in Portland.

They came in with an NBA-best 14-3 road record, but the Nets saw their five-game winning streak break.

The Nets took a nine-point lead in the third quarter and went into the final period with six behind. They reduced their deficit to two points a couple of times but could not maintain any momentum. A basket by Day’Ron Sharpe reduced the Nets’ deficit to 104-100 with 2:34 left, but the Blazers pushed it back to nine points and the Nets ran out of time.

KKevin Durant led the Nets (25-14) with 28 points and 10 rebounds, Kyrie Irving added 22 points, Cam Thomas added 21 and Sharpe delivered a nice boost with 14 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. Rookie Anfernee Simons started the Trail Blazers (16-24) with 23 points and 11 assists, Robert Covington had 21 points, including 5-for-7 shooting from three-point range, and Ben McLemore added 20, including 5-for -8 three-point shooting. The Blazers made just 3 of 15 threes in the first half, but hit 12 out of 23 in the second half to hit the turning point.

Initially, coach Steve Nash said Durant and James Harden would both be available for the second game in the back-to-back set, but that changed in the afternoon before the game when the Nets announced that Harden had a hyperextended left knee, that would keep him out against the Trail Blazers.

“We’re way too careful,” Nash said of the reason for resting Harden. “It’s a heavy stretch of matches and we expect him to play on Wednesday [in Chicago]. “

Nash has previously said everyone on the list would take the trip, but he changed it to omit center LaMarcus Aldridge, who was left with soreness in his right foot and was not expected to join the Nets in Chicago. Of course, Irving joined the ranks again after missing the previous two at home, where he is not eligible because he has not complied with New York City’s vaccine mandate.

If anything, the Blazers were even more shorthanded than the Nets. They were missing four starters, including Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who were injured, and Larry Nance Jr. and Norman Powell, who was on health and safety protocols.

Despite Irving’s presence, the Nets started slowly again in the opening quarter as they trailed 33-26 and saw Nic Claxton make three quick mistakes. The difference in fouls was noticeable in the period when the Trail Blazers came to the line 17 times and made 15 compared to only 3 of 3 for the Nets.

In the second quarter, the Nets did a much better job on the defensive end, keeping the Blazers at just 22 points during the period. The Nets continued with an extended 27-14 run to end the period, including 11 points from Durant, to take a 62-55 lead at the break. Sharpe delivered a critical lift from the bench in the middle with Claxton in error trouble.

The Nets led by as much as nine points early in the third period, but they hit a cold shot when the Blazers found their three-point touch, hitting five of their first nine third-quarter attempts, including one by Ben McLemore, who drew the position for 74 with 3:51 left of the period. By the time the third period ended, the Blazers had made 8 out of 15 threes to take an 87-81 lead for the final period.

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