Dec 12, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Isaiah Whitehead (15) brings the ball up the court during the third quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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The Brooklyn Nets looked to avoid their 10th straight loss in Sunday’s matchup vs. the Houston Rockets.
The Brooklyn Nets were faced with the daunting task of taking on James Harden and the Rockets without Brook Lopez, who was held out due to rest.
Both teams came out firing in what was a high-scoring first quarter. Houston shot 55 percent from the field in the first quarter, while the Nets shot 46 percent. Three pointers kept the Nets in the game early on, as Brooklyn made six in the first quarter alone. The Nets always rely heavily on the three pointer, and the long ball kept things close in the first quarter.
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Houston, led by Trevor Ariza with 14 first quarter points, held a slim 37-36 lead over the Nets after 12 minutes.
However, the Nets came out flat to begin the second quarter, as Houston went on an 11-5 run to take a 48-41 lead. Interestingly, it wasn’t Harden that hurt the Nets in the first half, but rather a multitude of Rockets. At the midway point of the second quarter, Patrick Beverley had 10, Montrezl Harrell had nine, and the aforementioned Ariza had 14, while Harden had just three points.
Despite being on a nine-game losing streak and facing a talented Rockets team, the Nets were not dejected in the first half. Brooklyn’s effort level was high on the boards, and the Nets moved the ball well on offense. But neither team had much success defensively, as the first half was a high-scoring affair. Houston led the Nets by eight, 74-66 at halftime.
Trevor Booker led the Nets with 14 points in the first half, while Joe Harris added 12. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson — the subject of recent trade rumors — also scored 12 off the bench in the first half.
For the Rockets, Eric Gordon led all scorers with 16 first half points off Houston’s bench.
The Nets’ third quarter struggles are well documented this season, and they got off to a slow start after halftime once again. The Rockets went on a 13-0 run in the first four minutes of the quarter, to take an 87-68 lead.
Brooklyn actually bounced back well, as the Nets went on an 8-0 run near the end of the third quarter to climb back into the game. The Nets were outscored by six, 30-24 in the third quarter, resulting in a 14 point deficit. Brooklyn trailed 104-90 heading into the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately for the Nets, the Rockets pulled away in the fourth quarter in what ultimately became a blowout. With 5:30 remaining, the Rockets had outscored the Nets 26-11 in the quarter, and Houston led 130-101. Harden was then pulled from the game after he secured a triple-double — 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds — and garbage time ensued.
The Nets and Rockets each attempted 44 three-pointers, for a total of 88, which tied an NBA record for number of three’s attempted in a game. Houston won by a wide margin, 137-112, handing Brooklyn’s their 10th consecutive loss.
1. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson played great despite trade rumors
There has been talk that perhaps the Nets would listen to trade offers for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. The Nets could end up fielding offers for Hollis-Jefferson, but he showed on Sunday that the potential rumors didn’t bother him. Hollis-Jefferson went out and scored 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting in 17 minutes. He also had seven rebounds, two assists, and three steals. Hollis-Jefferson is mostly known for his defense, but he looked rather comfortable on offense against the Rockets.
2. The Nets and Rockets tied an NBA record for three-pointers attempted
The Nets and Rockets shot plenty of three-pointers on Sunday night. In fact, both teams combined for 88 three point attempts, which tied an NBA record for three’s attempted in a game. Interestingly, the total was split right down the middle. Each team shot 44 three-pointers, but Houston made more — 21 to Brooklyn’s 15. For the Nets, 13 players entered the game against the Rockets. Only two of them, Chris McCullough and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, did not attempt a three-pointer. Four of the 11 Nets to attempt three-pointers made more than one: Joe Harris, Bojan Bogdanovic, Caris LeVert and Randy Foye.
The game was close at the end of the first quarter, but after that Brooklyn’s defense unraveled. Three Rockets, James Harden, Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza, scored 20 points or more, and six Rockets scored in double figures. Brooklyn also gave up 30 points or more in each quarter, as Houston scored 130 points before taking their foot off the gas pedal. The fact that Houston’s offense overpowered the Nets is not surprising. After all, Houston’s average of 114.9 points per game entering Sunday ranked second in the NBA, trailing only the Golden State Warriors.
Dec 12, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) shoot the ball over Brooklyn Nets guard Sean Kilpatrick (6) during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Player of the Game:
Trevor Booker led the Nets with 18 points in 26 minutes. He shot 8-of-15 from the field, and even made a three-pointer. Booker hustled all game long, and made an impact in the paint scoring and rebounding. With no Brook Lopez, the Nets needed a big game from Booker, and Booker delivered. Unfortunately, the Nets couldn’t keep the game close, but Booker gave a great effort, as he usually does.
As previously stated, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson played very well. Hollis-Jefferson is averaging 7.7 points per game this season, but he put up 14 points against Houston. He also had seven rebounds, two assists, and three steals. There were a few players to choose from in this slot — multiple Nets played relatively well offensively, even though the end result was a blowout. Randy Foye scored 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting, Joe Harris scored 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting, and Justin Hamilton scored 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting. But Hollis-Jefferson played well, especially amidst trade rumors.
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Bojan Bogdanovic scored eight points on 3-of-8 shooting in 22 minutes. Two of Bogdanovic’s three makes came from beyond the arc. On a night with no Brook Lopez, it would’ve been hard for the Nets to have any chance to outscore the high-powered offense of the Rockets. But with Bogdanovic scoring just eight points, it made that task even more difficult. Bogdanovic has had an up-and-down season. He has shown that he’s capable of playing well at times — and he wasn’t horrible against Houston — but with Brooklyn shorthanded, the Nets could’ve benefitted from a bigger performance from Bogdanovic.