Brooklyn Nets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Takeaways and Player Grades

Jan 6, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots the ball over Brooklyn Nets guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44) during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets, in the midst of a four-game losing streak, faced the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night. Cleveland saw both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love return in time to take on the Nets.

The Brooklyn Nets were faced with the herculean task of taking on LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and company on Friday night.

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The Nets played relatively well in the first quarter, as Bojan Bogdanovic led Brooklyn with seven first quarter points. Justin Hamilton added five, as the Nets’ offense flowed well for the most part. Brook Lopez had a quiet opening quarter, but the ball moved well. The Nets, unsurprisingly, had to contend with LeBron James, who put up 11 first quarter points, as Cleveland led 24-20 at the end of the first quarter.

The Nets kept pace with the Cavaliers in the second quarter. Overall, the pace remained slow in the second quarter, as the Nets and Cavs were tied at 30 with seven minutes remaining. Four in-game minutes later, with under three minutes left in the half, the Cavs led just 39-36. An 8-0 run by LeBron James toward the end of the half gave the Cavaliers a nine-point lead, as things started to unravel for the Nets. To close out the half, Cleveland expanded on James’ personal run, to push it to a 13-3 extended run. The Nets trailed 50-39 at halftime.

Brooklyn struggled from three-point range in the first half, as the Nets shot just 20 percent from beyond the arc. Bogdanovic led the Nets with 14 first-half points, while Lopez scored just four. The Nets’ point total, 39, was their lowest output in a first half this season.

The Cavaliers were able to pull away in the third quarter. Cleveland pushed their lead up to 20, 75-55 with 4:30 left in the third quarter, as their big three of James, Irving and Love all had success against the Nets’ defense. The Nets allowed a run at the end of the second quarter, but in comparison, the third quarter was a meltdown. The Nets trailed 86-68, as Cleveland led big heading to the fourth quarter.

The Nets showed fight in the fourth quarter, and nearly made a miraculous comeback. Brooklyn went on a 15-0 run to begin the quarter, and it appeared the Nets may stun the Cavs. But Kyrie Irving prevented the Nets’ comeback, as he went on a 10-0 individual run to put Cleveland over the top.

Brooklyn’s comeback attempt fell just short, as the Nets lost 116-108. Bojan Bogdanovic led the Nets with 23, while LeBron James led all scorers with 36.

Jan 6, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) dribbles the ball as Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) defends during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Takeaways

1. Brook Lopez recovered after a slow start

Brook Lopez scored just four points in the first half — a half in which most of the Nets struggled. But he bounced back nicely in the second half. Lopez scored 13 points in the second half, to finish with 17 on the night. Overall, he shot 5-of-10 from the field, including one made three-pointer. Lopez also added six points at the free throw line. In the first half, Lopez’s lack of an impact was notable. But in the second half Lopez produced more in his typical fashion.

2. Caris LeVert made his mark

Yes, the Nets fell short. But one of the great things about this game was the play of Caris LeVert. He got extended minutes (27 minutes) and took advantage. He shot 7-of-12 from the field, on his way to 19 points. He made two three pointers, and added three points at the free throw line. He also dished out five assists, and pulled down four rebounds. The Nets were very careful with LeVert when he returned from his foot injury. But he’s healthy now, and he’s making an impact. For a Nets team that has been lacking draft picks recently, it’s great to see one of the young, drafted player’s excel.

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3. The Nets erupted in the fourth quarter

Just how good were the Nets in the fourth quarter? Well, good enough to nearly complete the comeback and knock off the defending champions. While that didn’t happen, here’s a gauge of how well the Nets played: Brooklyn scored 40 points in the fourth quarter. The Nets, as a reminder, scored 39 points in the entire first half. The Nets won the point-margin in the fourth quarter by 10 points, 40-30, but it wasn’t enough to erase what was an 18 point deficit at the end of three quarters. Still, though, a loss to Cleveland isn’t something to be ashamed of. After all, Cleveland’s loss total matches Brooklyn’s win total (eight). But the fact that the Nets showed fight is commendable. Brooklyn could’ve packed it in at the end of three quarters when they were down by 18, but the Nets fought hard.

Jan 6, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44) drives around Cleveland Cavaliers defense during the third quarter at Barclays Center. Cleveland Cavaliers won 116-108. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Player of the Game:

Bojan Bogdanovic

SG, Brooklyn Nets

A

On a night where the Nets’ offense struggled early in the game, Bojan Bogdanovic played well and stood out. Bogdanovic scored 23 points in 31 minutes. He shot 9-of-14 from the field. Five of Bogdanovic’s made shots came from beyond the arc, good for 15 of his 23 points. He also dished out four assists, and had two rebounds as well. Bogdanovic led the Nets with 14 points in the first half, and added another nine in the second half. If the Nets could’ve gotten more production out of their starting lineup, Brooklyn may have been able to pull off the upset over Cleveland. While Bogdanovic certainly did his part, two Nets starters combined for nine points. It’s hard to have that be the case and still manage to pull off a win.

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Wildcard:

Caris LeVert

SG, Brooklyn Nets

A

Caris LeVert had the best game of his professional career to this point. LeVert scored 19 points, and made seven of his 12 shots. LeVert also chipped in five assists and four rebounds off the bench. LeVert continues to show his ability now that he is healthy, and he has a chance to develop into a special player in time. The Nets are doing some shuffling in their backcourt, as neither Sean Kilpatrick nor Isaiah Whitehead started on Friday night. Instead, Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris got the nod. Perhaps soon, LeVert will get his chance to crack the starting lineup consistently, especially if he continues to play as he did on Friday.

Up your game, please…

Joe Harris

SG, Brooklyn Nets

D

Joe Harris started on Friday, while Caris LeVert (19 points) and Isaiah Whitehead (10 points) did not. Those roles could reverse soon, as Harris scored just two points in his spot-start. He played 18 minutes, and shot the ball nine times. Harris shot 1-of-9 from the field. He shot 0-of-5 from beyond the arc. And, while plus-minus isn’t an absolute indicator of a player’s performance, Harris was -13. Harris has proven to be a solid player when he can come off the bench and provide a needed scoring spark. He can get hot from three-point range, but his shots just weren’t falling on Friday night.

With the loss, the Nets drop to 8-27 on the season. The Nets will have Saturday off, and host the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, at 12 PM EST.

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