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Nets get routed by Steph Curry and Golden State

Golden State guard Stephen Curry reacts after he

Golden State guard Stephen Curry reacts after he scores a three-point basket against the Brooklyn Nets during the first half of an NBA basketball game at Barclays Center on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Just when it appeared the Nets had found their mojo coming off a 5-1 road trip, they ran into a Golden State buzz saw that completely dominated them in a 117-99 pummeling Tuesday night at Barclays Center.

Golden State led by as many as 28 points while snapping a three-game Nets winning streak. The key to the blowout was a third-quarter blowout in which Golden State outscored the Nets, 35-18 much to the delight of many Golden State fans in the crowd.

Coach Steve Nash said the Nets failed to protect the rim on defense and then got stagnant offensively against Golden State’s No. 1-rated defense. "They’re really special defensively because they’re smart," Nash said. "They have good defenders, but they’re really smart at putting doubt in your mind and plugging up the gaps and making you think maybe you have an opportunity and then it’s not what you thought and they close those spaces really well.

"You’ve got to move them around. I thought it was also a new experience playing against a box-and-one, a triangle-and-two and some of those different looks they gave us. Hopefully we can take a lot from the game, but I think the number one thing is I just never felt like our energy was high enough, our compete level was high enough. That obviously is nonnegotiable against a team as good as the Warriors."

James Harden topped the Nets (10-5) with 24 points, Kevin Durant scored 19 on 6-for-19 shooting, which marked his first game of the season with less than 20, and Bruce Brown chipped in 14. Golden State (12-2) got 37 from Steph Curry and 19 from Andrew Wiggins. It also out-rebounded the Nets by 53-37, outscored them in the paint, 52-42, and outscored them in fast-break points, 25-10.

In other words, it was a thorough beating of a team that had won eight of its previous nine games. Because the Nets and Golden State rank among the favorites to reach the NBA Finals, the game was viewed beforehand as some sort of measuring stick and the Nets fell far short.

"The goal is to be the best team at the end of the season, in the postseason," Harden said. "That’s the goal. We’re probably nowhere near, but it’s a long season for us to get better and we will continue to get better . . . We have to find our identity."

Patty Mills started in the backcourt for injured Joe Harris. The Nets had only four bench points at halftime and were struggling at the offensive end in large part because of what seemed a decision to rest LaMarcus Aldridge on the first night of a back-to-back set that concludes with a game against the visiting Cavaliers Wednesday night.

When the third period began, Golden State built its lead to 13 when Curry picked up his fourth foul with 7:00 left in the period. Suddenly, Nash chose to insert Aldridge to try and get a scoring lift, but with Curry resting, Golden State ultimately outscored the Nets 35-18 in the period to push its lead to 22 points heading to the final quarter.

"The third quarter it got away from us," Durant said. "They ran their sets pretty hard, and defensively, they did a good job of packing the paint and switching up the defenses each possession. They might go box-and-one, triangle-and-two and then they might switch everything.

"They do a good job. That’s a team that you look at and you take a lot from that as a team and understand that’s the level we want to get to . . . It’s all part of the journey and understanding what level you need to be at every possession. This was a great test for us."

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