PORTLAND, Ore. — The Trail Blazers were missing a trio of injured 7-footers when the Nets arrived Friday night at Moda Center, and that made the loss of Nets center DeAndre Jordan, who was out with a sprained left ankle, less damaging. Zach Collins and Pau Gasol both sat for the Blazers, along with Jusuf Nurkic, who still is rehabbing from the horrific compound fracture and torn knee ligaments that he suffered against the Nets on March 25 last season.
Kenny Atkinson was coy before the game when asked who might get Jordan’s minutes or if the Nets would go small by moving Taurean Prince from power forward to center at times. But when asked if Henry Ellenson might have an edge over rookie Nic Claxton because of his experience, Atkinson said that was a factor.
“We’ll do it by committee,” Atkinson said.
But when the time came to give starter Jarrett Allen a breather, Atkinson went with the rookie instead, and Claxton delivered with six points and three rebounds in a seven-minute first-half stint in which he was plus-9 and helped the Nets attain their high lead of the first half at 36-26.
Claxton said he was “extremely ready” for the challenge, and it showed as he used his athleticism to good advantage, especially on defense, where he ranged out to the three-point arc to cover. Describing his goal, Claxton said: “Just bringing energy. That’s what I want to do right away, bringing some fight to the team and helping out any way I can.”
Working on turnovers
The Nets spent their two practice days working on how to cut down their turnovers by simulating takeaway actions and fouling. “Just put them under extreme pressure and try to do a better job,” Atkinson said. “We lead the league in travels. I think the NBA’s calling travels at a higher rate. We have to adjust to that.” … Kevin Durant remained in Brooklyn to continue rehabbing his right Achilles tendon.