Despite Kyrie Irving's 43 points, Nets can't hold on late and lose to Grizzlies
MEMPHIS — Sometimes great scoring can overcome bad defense. Wednesday was not one of those times for the Nets.
Kyrie Irving scored 43 points and Kevin Durant added 35, but the Nets lost a 132-120 decision to a hot-shooting and physical Grizzlies team.
The Nets, who led 104-103 at the start of the fourth quarter, were outscored 29-16 in the final period.
Desmond Bane and De’Anthony Melton led all Memphis scorers with 23 points. Dillon Brooks added 21 points. The Grizzlies were 19 of 38 from three-point range.
“I thought we ran out of gas a little bit,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “We dug ourselves a hole in the first half, had a good third quarter and then ran out of gas.
The Nets trailed by as many as 18, but outscored the Grizzlies 42-27 in the third quarter.
The Nets appeared to be catching a break when Ja Morant was ruled out of the game because of right knee soreness. The MVP candidate was averaging 27.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game for the Grizzlies, who were second-best in the Western Conference Standings.
Still, Nash noted before the game that the Grizzlies are 14-2 without Morant this season, including a 118-104 win in January where the Grizzlies out-rebounded the Nets by 28.
“Last time we played them they had 24 offensive rebounds, which makes me want to throw up in my mouth,” Nash said Wednesday morning. “But that’s what makes them a tough team. They come for blood every day and our team has to be ready to come at them.”
The Nets’ biggest problem early Wednesday night was defense, as they gave up 76 points in the first half.