The Nets knew the Spurs were gimpy coming into Monday night’s game at Barclays Center — without injured starters Tony Parker and Pau Gasol — and when Spurs coach Gregg Popovich announced that he was resting star forward Kawhi Leonard with a sore hand and Manu Ginobili because, well, he’s approaching his 40th birthday, it seemed like a prime opportunity for an upset.
The Spurs’ personnel losses didn’t matter, though, as they dropped the Nets to an NBA-worst 9-35 with a 112-86 whipping.
Considering the Spurs’ injury situation, this was worse than the 29-point beatdown the Nets suffered Dec. 10 in San Antonio. Nets coach Kenny Atkinson recognized that and all but apologized to the 16,643 fans in attendance.
“Their energy was at a whole other level than ours,” Atkinson said of the Spurs. “We had to handle three games in four days. We fought in New Orleans and fought in Charlotte. Today we didn’t have the requisite energy. We couldn’t stop them and we couldn’t score.
“I’m disappointed for the fans. I think our fans are unbelievable the way they support us. I’m looking up in the stands at the end of the game . . . I just ask for patience, and we’ll keep working at it and try to get better.”
To be fair, the Nets were missing more than just Jeremy Lin, who suffered a setback with his hamstring injury and will be out another three to five weeks. Joe Harris (foot) was inactive and rookie Caris LeVert was rested. “He’ll be back for Miami [Wednesday night], ready to roll,” Atkinson said.
It was a tight game for the better part of two quarters, but the Spurs (35-9) put together a 13-4 run, including 10 points from Patty Mills, to take a 52-42 halftime lead. Former Knick David Lee opened the third quarter with two quick baskets and the Spurs took over, extending their lead to 34 in the fourth period.
Mills led the Spurs with 20 points off their thin bench, and they got 16 from LaMarcus Aldridge, 15 from Lee and 14 from Kyle Anderson.
Isaiah Whitehead scored 19 points and Sean Kilpatrick had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets, who shot only 5-for-25 from three-point range.
Marveling at how the Spurs succeed no matter whom they plug into the lineup, Whitehead said: “They run their sets to death, and they’re incredibly fast. Everyone knows where to be at the right time, and they know what other players are thinking.”