On Tuesday night, the Nets were defeated by the Oklahoma City Thunder by a final score of 117-111.
The Skinny: Of the all the offensive weapons on the Thunder, defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha came out with the hot hand from the outside, scoring 10 points in the first quarter. Deron Williams connected on his first four shots, including two three pointers, for 12 points after criticizing himself recently about his poor shooting. Russell Westbrook added 10 first-quarter points, but he was forced to sit with two fouls. The high-scoring first quarter ended with the Thunder leading by three.
Both teams shot lights out to start the second quarter, but the Nets hit a cold spell. Kevin Durant began heating up near the rim, and Westbrook kept up his offensive pace, which helped Oklahoma City open a 12-point lead as part of a 9-0 run. Durant scored 14 points in the quarter, and the Thunder led by 13 at the break.
Brooklyn finally started to gain some momentum in the third quarter. Williams scored 13 points, and Gerald Wallace hit four three-pointers in the frame. The Nets collectively hit on 6-of-9 three-point attempts, which helped cut a 16-point deficit to as little as two. Even after the 38-point quarter, the Nets still trailed by four heading after three, as Serge Ibaka was unconscious from the outside.
The Thunder immediately jumped back out to a 10-point lead to start the fourth, forcing the Nets to again chip away. Every time the Nets cut into the lead, the Thunder answered right back with a clutch basket. Again Brooklyn cut the deficit to two, but Durant kept knocking down shots. With the Nets down by two, Kris Humphries was called for goaltending on a Durant shot in which the referees went to replay. The goaltending call stood, giving the Thunder a four-point lead with just over one minute to play. The Thunder got a huge break on their next possession when an offensive rebound came right to Sefolosha for an uncontested lay-up, increasing the lead to six. The Nets couldn’t get much closer, as Oklahoma City made almost every free-throw at the end.
High Scorers: D-Will led all scorers with a season-high 33 points on 10-of-20 shooting, hit five three-pointers and dished out seven assists. Durant led the Thunder with 32 points on 9-of-16 shooting and hit all 12 free-throw attempts. He also had five rebounds and six assists.
Key Stats: The Thunder shot incredibly well from the floor all game, finishing at 61 percent. They also hit on 30-of-34 (88 percent) from the charity stripe. The Nets held a 16-2 advantage in offensive rebounds.
Who Was Hot: Westbrook finished with 25 points and nine assists. Ibaka added 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Andray Blatche recorded a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Humphries also had a double-double 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Who Was Not: Joe Johnson had an impressive 10-point fourth quarter, but for the game he was just 8-of-21 from the field. He finished with 17 points.
Fun Fact: Thunder assistant coach Maurice Cheeks played in 35 games for the New Jersey Nets during the 1992-93 season. He averaged 3.5 points, 3.1 assists and 1.2 rebounds per game.
Jim MancariThe Nets had no answer defensively for Durant and Westbrook, who came into the game both ranked in the top-seven in the NBA in scoring.
Without Reggie Evans and Brook Lopez, it really would have taken a perfect effort for Brooklyn to come away with a win. The Nets certainly made it interesting but could never get over the hump. This game could have been a lot worse, but it was painful to watch the Nets keep coming back, yet never even tie the game.
Williams hopefully is proud of his shooting effort and can build off his performance. Humphries also showed up in a big way tonight with two of the Nets’ big men sidelined.
The reigning Western Conference champion Thunder are now 6-2 on the road and went through stretches in this one of not being able to miss from the outside. The team plays an incredibly fast-paced style of basketball, which the Nets could not keep up with. Oklahoma City has now defeated the Nets seven straight times.
So the Nets’ four-game homestand begins with a tough loss. The team moves to 7-2 at home and will play nine of the next 13 games at home.
Brooklyn (11-6) will take on the Golden State Warriors Friday night at Barclays Center. The Warriors defeated the Nets 102-93 in Oakland, Calif., on Nov. 21. The 7:30 p.m. game will be televised on the YES Network.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.