Brooklyn Boro

Defenseless Nets sing the blues in Memphis

Grizzlies bury Brooklyn with huge third-quarter outburst

October 25, 2022 John Torenli, Sports Editor
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Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant sent praises to Memphis’ Ja Morant before Monday night’s road opener in Memphis.

He should have said something about Desmond Bane as well.

Morant and Bane scored 38 points apiece as the Grizzlies used a 45-point third quarter to extinguish the Nets, 134-124, in front of 17,392 fans at FedEx Forum.

“He’s a unique player. A lot of athleticism and creativity out there,” Durant said of Morant, who finished 12-of-22 from the floor, grabbed eight rebounds and handed out seven assists as Memphis improved to 3-1.

“Body type reminds you of somebody like — well he’s taller than A.I. [Allen Iverson], but a wiry, strong player … but he’s an incredible player, man.”

So was Bane, who lit up the Nets (1-2) on 14-of-21 shooting, including a career-best 8-of-11 from 3-point range. He scored 32 of his 38 points in the second half.

Durant and fellow superstar Kyrie Irving finished with 37 points apiece for Brooklyn, which held a 69-64 lead at the half before the Grizzlies ran up the score following intermission, opening the third period with a 17-2 burst.

“Forty five (points in the third quarter) is too much. We weren’t talking so there was a lot of confusion,” noted Nets head coach Steve Nash. “This group hasn’t played together that much so there’s not a common experience.”

Nic Claxton finished with 18 points, but was the only Net player other than Brooklyn’s Big Two to finish in double figures in scoring.

Ben Simmons, who is continuing his comeback from missing all of last season with mental-health concerns and a herniated disk, had seven points, eight assists and five turnovers in 28 minutes.

Ben Simmons continued to work his way back from a lost season as the Nets lost in Memphis Monday. AP Photo by Brandon Dill

“We showed glimpses of how we shoud have played, but we couldn’t carry it through the whole game,” said Simmons, who came to the Nets last February from Philadelphia. “It’s a different speed, a different physicality.”

“That’s a long period of inactivity,” Nash added in defense of Simmons’ slow start to the campaign. “It does take time to get a feel for it again.”

Joe Harris, playing his second straight game after taking the season opener off with a sore foot, had eight points but went 2-of-7 from 3-point range as Brooklyn only made nine of its 29 attempts from long range.

The Nets, who shot an impressive 54 percent from the field overall, allowed the Grizzlies to hit just under 50 percent (16-of-34) from beyond the arc.

“The 3-pointer really killed us today,” said Durant. “It was the 3-point line that separated us. … It was a shootout, but they happened to make from 3s than us.”

Brooklyn will try to tighten up its defense and make a few more long-range shots when it visits Milwaukee Wednesday night.

Kevin Durant moved into sole possession of 20th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list Monday night in Memphis. AP Photo by Brandon Dill

NOTHING BUT NET: Offseason acquisition Markieff Morris did not play due to personal reasons for Brooklyn, but Nash indicated that he would return for the opener of a three-game homestand at Barclays Center on Thursday vs. Dallas. … Durant, who scored 17 points during the Nets’ third-quarter defensive collapse, passed Alex English (25,613) for 20th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. … The Nets have lost seven in a row in Memphis.

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