Nets look to snap losing streak vs. Cavaliers
Since their leading scorer went down with a dislocated foot, getting wins is a struggle for the Nets, especially at home.
Monday will be the three-week mark of LeVert’s injury and the Nets will try to stop a pair of six-game losing streaks when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Since LeVert went down trying to defend Minnesota’s Josh Okogie in the final seconds of the first half on Nov. 12, Brooklyn (8-16) is 2-9 in its last 11 games. It is on a six-game overall losing streak and a six-game skid at home since a 25-point win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Nov. 4.
The latest loss for Brooklyn was a flat 102-88 loss at Washington on the second night of a back-to-back Saturday night. The Nets recorded a season-low in points, finished under 100 points for the third time and shot 37 percent, highlighted by a 5-of-17 in the third quarter when the game slipped away from them.
“We just were not sharp,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We obviously did not shoot the ball well. It is funny, I thought our defense was decent. We did a decent job on the defensive end. Obviously (we) did not shoot the ball well. I think their switching bothered us quite honestly.”
The Nets trailed for the final 42:37 and shot under 40 percent for the third time. Brooklyn also shot 4 of 21 on shots classified as in the paint but not in the restricted area and mid-range shots, and Atkinson is hoping for improved shot selection.
“Our shot selection has got to improve,” Atkinson said. “Whether a team switches or they are in zone (defense), I am just not thrilled with the shot selection so we have to kind of go back to the drawing board. I think in these past games, our shot selection has really slipped, therefore our offensive efficiency has slipped.”
During their six-game skid, the Nets are averaging 107.3 points, shooting 43.6 percent, getting 20.7 assists and averaging 17.8 turnovers. In the last six games, the Nets are struggling on shots in the paint and outside the restricted area along with mid-range shots by shooting 34.4 percent (52-of-150).
In LeVert’s absence, Allen Crabbe started in the backcourt for the first eight games alongside D’Angelo Russell. In the last two, Crabbe moved into the frontcourt while Spencer Dinwiddie started in the backcourt due to Joe Harris missing the last two games with a left abductor injury.
The Nets are returning home hoping to avoid a third straight disaster in the fourth quarter. After getting outscored a combined 69-36 in the final 12 minutes to Utah and Philadelphia, the Nets gave up the last seven points of the fourth in 33 seconds and took a 131-125 double-overtime loss to Memphis.
One of Brooklyn’s eight wins was a 102-86 win in Cleveland on Oct. 24. It was the fourth loss in a 0-6 start that led to coach Tyronn Lue getting fired on Oct. 28.
Under Larry Drew, Cleveland is 4-12 and enters on a four-game losing streak after taking double-double digits on a back-to-back against the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors. The Cavaliers are averaging 92 points on 39.7 percent shooting in their current skid and have been held under 100 points 10 times.
Saturday’s 106-95 loss to the Raptors was Cleveland’s 12th defeat by double-digits and the Cavaliers trailed by 21 before getting the deficit to seven. To get back in the game, Drew benched rookie Collin Sexton in the fourth quarter while keeping Tristan Thompson on the floor for 40 minutes and going with a lineup that featured Jordan Clarkson, Alec Burks, Rodney Hood, Cedi Osman and Thompson for most of the fourth.
Thompson posted 18 and 19 rebounds and six of his 12 double-doubles are in the last seven games. Sexton scored 10 points and even with George Hill back from a shoulder injury, Drew said Sexton would stay in the starting lineup.
“It gives us another ball-handler on the floor, another guy who can make plays,” Drew said. “It gives us speed, it gives us quickness. I like Collin’s ability to play off the ball, too.”
Sexton is averaging 17.8 points on 45.7 percent shooting in 12 starts. He scored 14 points in 25 minutes during the first meeting with the Nets.