The Brooklyn Nets have lost all three games they’ve played without Kevin Durant this week, with the worst of the bunch coming in a 122-111 Tuesday night stunner to the 6-18 Detroit Pistons. Jerami Grant and Delon Wright combined to score 54 points on 35 shots. Sure, bad losses will happen — especially without one of the best players in the world in the lineup — but the Nets’ greatest fear has undoubtedly come true. They suck at defense.
In the 13 games since acquiring James Harden in a blockbuster deal, the Nets have allowed 120.7 points per 100 possessions, which is the second-worst mark in the league ahead of only the Dallas Mavericks. That’s bad! Especially for a team that’s supposedly in place to win a championship this season. In the 13 games before that, they allowed 109.9 points per 100 possessions, which was the 11th-best mark in the league.
A few things here. In the most-recent 13 games, Harden’s missed one game, Durant’s missed five games and Kyrie Irving’s missed three. The team isn’t at full strength, and hasn’t been given enough time to acclimate. Despite all of that, Brooklyn’s notched the third-best offensive rating in the league behind the Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz. There’s hope.
Will the Nets defense get better? I mean, I freaking hope so. Letting the Pistons shoot 56% from the field and 44.8% from 3-point range in a double-digit loss won’t cut it. But there’s a legitimate question of whether Brooklyn shredded too much depth to upgrade a marginal amount in a space they already had someone as good as Irving operating in. We won’t find an answer to that question until the season’s played out but for now it’s a thought Nets fans can’t avoid considering on a nightly basis.
Of course, there’s a fantasy impact here. If it’s not already apparent, you should be checking when you have guys playing against the Nets. Their defense loves to allow opponents to put up career nights. Jerami Grant tied his career-high of 32 on Tuesday and he did it on 11-of-19 shooting including four 3-pointers. The Nets defense is soft. Use that knowledge to your advantage.
Let’s talk about Tuesday night’s seven games.
Pistons 122, Nets 111
James Harden — The Nets might’ve lost to a bad team while playing no defense, but Harden put up a career-best five blocks, which is … surprising. He also did what he often does, nearly triple-doubling with 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting, 12 assists, six rebounds and two steals. That’s a helluva fantasy night.
Jerami Grant — Grant tied his career-high with 32 points on 11-of-19 shooting (four made 3-pointers) with five rebounds, four assists and one block. This is what happens when you play against the Nets’ attempt at defense.
Mason Plumlee — Plumlee had one of his best fantasy nights of the season scoring 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting with 12 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and two steals.
Delon Wright — Wright didn’t shoot great from the field but scored 22 points on 7-of-16 field goals and 8-of-12 free throws. He also had nine assists, four rebounds and two steals.
Kyrie Irving — He shot poorly, making just 12-of-28 shots for 27 points, but added seven assists, two rebounds and two steals.
Bruce Brown — In 26 minutes off the bench, Brown swiped four steals, which is one short of his career-high. He also had eight points, nine rebounds and an assist.
Heat 98, Knicks 96
Jimmy Butler — Butler nearly triple-doubled with 26 points on 6-of-15 shooting and 13-of-15 free-throw shooting, 10 rebounds and eight assists. The Heat needed all of it to just barely edge past the Knicks.
Kelly Olynyk — Splash Brother Kelly Olynyk arrived just on time to knock down 6-of-8 tries for 20 points. That tied his second-most makes in a game ever, and he’s averaging three makes from distance in five February games.
Bam Adebayo — He only made 3-of-9 shots, but his final line included 19 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks.
Elfrid Payton — Despite Derrick Rose joining the rotation, Payton still got his. He scored 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting with five rebounds and four assists.
Julius Randle — This was one of his worst games of the year. He made just 4-of-18 shots for 12 points with eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Derrick Rose made his second Knicks debut, scoring 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting in 20 minutes. He had three assists, a steal and a block too. Immanuel Quickley played 21 minutes and Payton played 27 minutes.
Pelicans 130, Rockets 101
Josh Hart — Hart had a 20-point, 17-rebound double-double in 40 minutes. That’s absurdly good for someone who’s only 6-foot-5! He added three assists, two blocks and a steal.
John Wall — Wall scored 25 points, but it took him 23 shots to get there (he made 11). He also had six assists to three turnovers and four rebounds.
Eric Gordon — Gordon’s 23 points came on four 3-point makes. His four turnovers stung, but he added three assists, a rebound and a block.
Danuel House — Without Victor Oladipo, House played 34 minutes and scored 13 points with a well-rounded eight rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Zion Williamson — Williamson’s 20 points came on an efficient 6-of-10 shooting from the field. He also made 8-of-10 free throws, which is great for him.
Willie Hernangomez — Hernangomez had his second double-double in February with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting with 10 rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block.
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Warriors 114, Spurs 91
Stephen Curry — He’s been hilariously good this year. He scored 32 points on 11-of-20 shooting in the blowout win including four 3-pointers. He added four rebounds and two assists.
Draymond Green — Starting center Draymond Green has been so fun to watch. He scored six points on 3-of-4 shooting with 11 assists and seven rebounds. In his last three games he’s averaging 5.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 11.0 assists.
Lonnie Walker IV — Walker returned from a two-game absence due to illness and missed all five of his shots in 18 minutes. He had just three rebounds and two assists.
The Spurs team — Yeah, they were pretty bad. The team shot just 37.2% from the field and turned the ball over 14 times to 20 assists. Curry and Green roasted them.
Trail Blazers 106, Magic 97
Damian Lillard — Who else? With C.J. McCollum still sidelined, Lillard has had to take over. On Tuesday night, he scored 36 points on 9-of-22 shooting including five made 3-pointers. He sunk all 13 free-throws he took with five rebounds, four assists and a steal.
Nikola Vucevic — Vucevic, the No. 14 player in 9-cat leagues, had another great fantasy night in the loss. He scored 27 points on 10-of-21 shooting (two 3-pointers) with 15 rebounds, four assists, two steals, two blocks and just one turnover in 41 minutes.
Carmelo Anthony — Melo followed up a two-point dud with his highest-scoring night of the season. He scored 23 on 7-of-16 shooting including five made 3-pointers with three rebounds and three blocks (one short of tying his career-best.) He passed Oscar Robertson for 12th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
Terrence Ross — Ross scored 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting with four assists, a rebound and a block.
Al-Farouq Aminu — In his first game back since November 2019, Aminu played just five minutes and had to be pulled early for the remainder of the game. He had no points, one assist and one rebound.
Cole Anthony — Anthony left the game in the second quarter with a right shoulder strain and did not return. Frank Mason started the second half and finished with 11 points, seven assists and four rebounds in 33 minutes.
Sixers 119, Kings 111
Joel Embiid — The MVP candidate scored 25 points on 6-of-15 shooting (no 3-pointers) but added 17 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks.
De’Aaron Fox — Fox scored 34 points, but it took him 30 shots. He made just 13 of those looks, and missed 3-of-8 free-throws, too. He did dish 10 assists with six rebounds, though. He’s keeping Sacramento competitive every night.
Buddy Hield — He only made 7-of-20 shots, but six of them were from distance. He finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Seth Curry — Curry knocked down four 3-pointers, the most since his recovery from COVID-19, and he scored 22 points with three rebounds. He’s on pace for a 50/50/100 season, and the Sixers are 15-3 when Curry plays!
Tobias Harris — Harris’s hot-shooting season continued in the win, too. He scored 22 on 8-of-15 shooting with 10 rebounds, an assist and just one turnover.
Jazz 122, Celtics 108
Donovan Mitchell — This was Mitchell’s game. He scored or assisted on 20 of the Jazz’s final 21 points in the fourth quarter to close out the win. He finished with 36 points on 12-of-23 shooting including six 3-pointers with nine assists, four rebounds, two blocks and one steal.
Rudy Gobert — Gobert had a super-efficient 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting with 12 rebounds, three assists and three blocks.
Jaylen Brown — After two games sidelined with knee soreness, Brown came back strong to score 33 points on 12-of-20 shooting with eight rebounds.
Joe Ingles — Ingles had a great night, scoring 24 points on 5-of-12 shooting with six assists and three rebounds.