Nets aim to rebound vs. Suns (Oct 31, 2017)

BY AP • October 31, 2017

NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets were curious how they would follow up their exciting win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The two games since Spencer Dinwiddie hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 43 seconds remaining against Cleveland did not go well. The Nets showed little energy in a blowout road loss Friday to the New York Knicks and then got run out of their own building in the third quarter Sunday by the Denver Nuggets.

After two disappointing showings, the Nets will try to bounce back Tuesday night when they host the Phoenix Suns.

Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson admitted he was concerned about a possible hangover from his team's 112-107 win over the Cavaliers that improved the Nets to 3-0 at home.

His worries were justified.

The Nets (3-4) shot 40.5 percent and were dominated inside during a 107-86 loss to the Knicks.

Sunday might have been even worse. The Nets held a 14-point lead in the first half, gave up a 31-6 run in the third quarter by missing 14 of their first 16 shots and wound up with a 124-111 loss to the Nuggets.

"They made a run, and we called a couple of timeouts to try to get it back, but we just never responded," Atkinson said. "Then we kind of wilted, and obviously we needed better leadership at that time. But it's up to our young guys, too. It's on them to learn from this and get better from it. But we didn't respond at all."

The Nets would like to correct their issues from the past two losses, especially with what lies ahead. After Tuesday, the Nets begin a five-game road trip, and they will play nine of their next 13 on the road.

D'Angelo Russell did not play in the thrilling win over Cleveland because of a right knee injury, and he did not play well in the last two games. He averaged 23 points in the first four contests, but in his past two games, Russell has totaled 27 points, nine assists and eight turnovers on 9-of-22 shooting (1-of-8 from 3-point range).

"I do think -- this is every NBA player, and other sports, too -- when you have a little injury, it takes a little time to get your rhythm, just get it back," Atkinson said. "And I'm sure he's searching for it. He'll get it back. He started the season really strong and, got dinged up a little. I think it's a question of rhythm."

While Russell and the Nets look to regain their rhythm, they might be forced to find it without two of their better 3-point shooters.

Quincy Acy, who leads the team at 52.4 percent from 3-point range, will miss his second consecutive game with a strained left groin. DeMarre Carroll, who is shooting 41.4 percent from behind the arc, sat out Sunday with a sore right ankle and is questionable for Tuesday.

The Suns are off to an eventful 2-4 start, but things seem to have quieted since Earl Watson was fired after the team dropped its first three games. Phoenix lost its opening three games by a combined 92 points, and on Oct. 22, and Eric Bledsoe sent out a tweet that apparently expressed his frustrations.

Bledsoe has not played since scoring four points on Oct. 21 as the team tries to trade him.

The Suns won their first two games under interim coach Jay Triano, beating the Sacramento Kings and the Utah Jazz at home. They opened a four-game trip Saturday with a 114-107 loss at Portland.

Under Triano, Suns are allowing 105.7 points and holding opponents to 36.5 percent on 3-point attempts. In the first three games, the Suns gave up 128.7 points and allowed the opposition to make 50 percent of its 3-point shots.

"You never want to lose, but losing the right way is always better than what happened the first time," Phoenix's Devin Booker said. "So I see a lot of improvements."

On Saturday, Booker scored 34 points on 11-of-19 shooting, and the Suns were within two points late before losing.

"We didn't finish our shots down the stretch, but we put ourselves in position to win a game on the road," Triano said. "I give our guys a lot of credit."

Booker will be playing his first game since turning 21 on Monday. His 2,897 career points are the fourth most in NBA history before age 21. Only LeBron James (4,649), Kevin Durant (3,495) and Carmelo Anthony (3,283) scored more before turning 21.

Brooklyn is 9-2 in the clubs' past 11 meetings. In Brooklyn's 126-98 home win on March 23, the Nets outscored the Suns 74-48 in the second half.



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