The Brooklyn Nets on Friday night let the Houston Rockets off the ropes in the first half and it cost them big in a 119-111 loss at Barclays Center.
There are games that get away from teams. Then there are the games teams let get away. Chalk Friday’s 119-111 loss by the Brooklyn Nets to the Houston Rockets at Barclays Center clearly in the latter category.
With 3:11 to go in the first half, the Nets had the Rockets reeling, ready to be knocked out, after Spencer Dinwiddie knocked down a 3-pointer to put Brooklyn up 57-43.
The Nets were up 14 with the ball and 2:55 left in the first half. The game was theirs for the taking if they could just finish the job.
Instead, it was Houston — playing for the third straight game without NBA MVP James Harden, out with a hamstring injury — getting back off the ropes and closing the half on a 13-4 spurt.
That burst was capped by Chris Paul‘s running 30-footer at the buzzer that cut Brooklyn’s lead to just 61-56 at the break.
In a half where just about everything the Nets did worked out right, they took their foot off the accelerator just a bit, missing five straight shots before D’Angelo Russell canned a 3-pointer from above the break with 5.2 seconds left, a break that was negated when Paul ended the half with his 3.
Brooklyn shot 64.9 percent (24-for-37) in the first half, hit 7-of-13 from 3-point range, outrebounded the Rockets 23-21 … and led by five points. That was in part due to Houston maximizing its opportunities when the Nets did make a mistake.
Brooklyn’s seven first-half turnovers turned into 14 points for the Rockets, while Houston’s five miscues produced only four points for the Nets.
The third quarter — as it has so often for this group — proved fatal for the Nets once again. Brooklyn shot 9-for-25 in the quarter, even as they tried to hang around by making 5-of-10 from 3-point range.
Meanwhile. the Rockets heated up, with Paul, Eric Gordon and Anthony combining for 28 points in the period.
The fourth quarter wasn’t much better for the Nets — who were 9-for-23 in the final 12 minutes, including only 3-for-11 from deep. In the second half, Brooklyn shot 37.5 percent (18-for-48) and were denied back-to-back wins once again.
Houston (2-5) snapped a four-game losing streak, while the Nets (3-6) lost for the fourth time in their last five games.
Paul paced the Rockets with 32 points, 11 assists and two blocked shots. Anthony went for 28 points off the bench, Capela finished with 22 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks and Gordon had 21 points.
The Nets, who scored a whopping 26 points in the paint just in the first quarter, ended the night with 50 in that category as the Rockets did a much better job closing off driving lanes as the game wore on.
This was a difficult loss to take and with it comes some questions that are rising from mere curiosities and explainable anomalies to full-fledged mysteries.
The five takeaways from the game begins with one of those.