Two games into a season-high, seven-game road trip, the Brooklyn Nets own some unpleasant memories after losses to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Utah Jazz.
The Nets will attempt to earn their first win on their trek Sunday night when they visit the Los Angeles Clippers.
Brooklyn, which will be concluding its lone back-to-back set of the trip, enters Sunday a half-game behind sixth-place Detroit in the Eastern Conference and 2 1/2 games up on eighth-place Miami. It is possible the Nets could be facing a one-game deficit before tipping off as the Pistons will play host to the Toronto Raptors five hours before Brooklyn takes the floor.
Regardless of what the standings say, the Nets will be attempting to correct some ugly numbers, especially on offense and on the boards. After taking a 108-96 loss at Oklahoma City on Wednesday, the Nets shot 34.7 percent and were outrebounded by a 65-44 margin as they struggled to stop Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors in a 114-98 loss at Utah on Saturday.
While the Nets were done in by getting outscored 66-44 in the second half Wednesday, Brooklyn's problems began early on Saturday and never improved. The Nets missed 12 consecutive shots in a span of six-minute span bridging the first and second quarters, turning an eight-point lead into a double-digit deficit from which they never recovered.
The Nets scored under 100 points in consecutive games for the third time this season and fell to 1-12 when being held under the century mark. Brooklyn also struggled immensely with physicality, something coach Kenny Atkinson pointed out after the Oklahoma City game.
Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets with 22 points at Utah while D'Angelo Russell added 20. Russell, however, made just 8 of 25 field-goal attempts, and he is shooting 36.8 percent (53 of 144) in his past eight games.
"Listen, let's not overreact to this," Atkinson told reporters. "We had an admirable performance in Oklahoma City, didn't come with the win. Here (in Salt Lake City), they took it to us pretty good, and we just got to bounce back. ...
"We have another one (Sunday) night against a veteran type (of) team. These teams give us trouble. They screen hard. They hold, they grab. They're physical, and somehow we got to be a little more resilient in terms of fighting through that physicality."
The Nets will be facing the Clippers four months after blowing a 15-point lead in a 127-119 home loss on Nov. 17.
This version of the Clippers will not have Tobias Harris, who torched the Nets for 27 points. It still contains Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams, who are the club's top two scorers.
The duo has helped Los Angeles stay in the playoff race despite the team dealing Harris to Philadelphia right before last month's trade deadline. The Clippers occupy the eighth spot in the West with a comfortable six-game lead over the ninth-place Sacramento Kings. The Clippers trail the seventh-place Utah Jazz by a half-game.
Los Angeles is 10-5 since trading Harris, including 6-1 over the past seven games following a 128-121 home win over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night. After trailing by six points at halftime, the Clippers scored 45 points in the third quarter, and they wound up producing at least 120 points for the seventh time since trading Harris.
"I like the way we responded," Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said of his squad, which had lost by 21 points to the Portland Trail Blazers last Tuesday. "We didn't play well in the first half (Friday), but we were terrific in the third. That starting group really set the tone, which was great."
Gallinari scored 27 points after missing the Portland game to rest an ailing ankle. He is averaging 24.7 points in his past six games. Montrezl Harrell added 26 against the Bulls, and he is averaging 19 points in his past 11 games. Lou Williams, who contributed 21, is averaging 25 points in his past 13 games.
Los Angeles has won the past seven home meetings with the Nets since a 110-96 loss on Nov. 15, 2010. Last season, the Clippers shot 52.4 percent in a 123-120 home win over the Nets on March 4, 2018.
--Field Level Media
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