Undermanned Nets collapse after fast start, lose to Blazers

Kevin Garnett reacts on the court during a

Kevin Garnett reacts on the court during a game against the Portland Trail Blazers in the second half of a game at Barclays Center. (Nov. 18, 2013) (Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

For one incredible quarter, Kevin Garnett looked like he was 27 years old, not 37.

With his teammates and perhaps even some members of the Portland Trail Blazers looking on in awe, Garnett knocked down his first six shots, scoring more points in one period than he had in a game in his brief career as a Brooklyn Net.

Inspirational? Well, it was for a while. But then injuries, age and reality caught up with the Nets as they lost, 108-98, last night to a hot Portland team.

Garnett (8-for-19) scored 14 of his 16 points in the opening 12 minutes of the game.

Nets coach Jason Kidd blamed himself for his team falling apart in the second half.

"It's bad coaching. I take the blame for this," Kidd said. "Guys played hard. We got a little stagnant on the offensive end. Third quarter, we came out flat. It falls on me."

The Nets (3-7) led by as many as 11 points in the first half, but fell apart in the third quarter when the were outscored, 27-15. The loss was so demoralizing that only a handful of players -- Jason Terry, Mason Plumlee and Shaun Livingston -- made themselves available to reporters after the game.

"The guys are back there kind of reflecting that we just let an opportunity slip," Terry said. "[Kidd] may feel it's his fault, but as players, we look in the mirror and feel it's our fault."

The Nets entered the game needing a win after going 1-2 on their West Coast trip and losing three of their previous four games. Portland (9-2) figured to be a tough challenge. As one of the NBA's most surprising teams in the first month of the season, the Trail Blazers were looking for their seventh consecutive win and got it.

LaMarcus Aldridge led Portland with 27 points and Wesley Matthews added 24. He shot 9-for-13, including 5-for-8 on three-pointers.

Livingston, who started at point guard in place of the injured Deron Williams, led the Nets with 23 points and shot 8-for-14.

Livingston also thought that Kidd was not to blame for the team's third-quarter woes.

"It's on all of us. Me, as well," he said. "As a point guard, you have to initiate the offense. You have to make the right calls and get guys involved. Maybe that's a time where I should have been more aggressive getting into the paint, drawing fouls and getting some free throws to get our momentum back up."

Garnett, who missed the previous game with a sprained right ankle, had the momentum early. He entered the game still looking for his first double-figure scoring game as a Net. He got there just 2:54 into the game when he drained a 17-footer.

Unfortunately, his fountain of youth ran dry.

The Nets have been dealing with a myriad of minor injuries. Last night, they were without Williams and Lopez, so it was a bit of a shock that they jumped out with a 40-point first quarter.

It wasn't until the third quarter that everything fell apart for the Nets -- and it really fell apart. In the first half, they never trailed, led by as many as 11 and made 57.9 percent of their shots. Incredibly they finished the game shooting just 36.5 percent.

Portland took the lead for good with a 9-0 run in the third quarter. They outscored the Nets 27-15 in the quarter and the home team heard boos from the crowd.

Brooklyn has won the third quarter in all three victories and been outscored in the period in every loss.

Said Kidd, "We've got to show the guys how to get better in the third quarter."

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