The NBA is very much like nature. It is much easier to be a hunter than to hunt.
The Nets were reminded of that Sunday in Charlotte.
Brooklyn came out flat and paid for it, stabbed by the hungry Hornets 106-104 for their first loss of the season.
Unlike Kevin Durant (29 points) and Kyrie Irving (25), the Nets are not used to playing with a target on their backs. But with their stars healthy and playful, Brooklyn might as well add colorful bull-eyes to the back of their Basquiat-inspired jerseys.
‘It’s definitely disappointing. … I think we could have played better. I know we could have played better, “said Jarrett Allen. ‘I know we could have come out and had a lot more energy. I know we did not play to the fullest.
“Because we’re in the position with KD and Kyrie, and we’re a full team, we’ll definitely have every game at the back. We are definitely going to get each team the 100 percent. So we have to get out there ready every time. ”
The Nets were not nearly ready, after a sloppy first two quarters with an even worse third. They came in 16th in the fourth deficit before going 18-4 inside two. But they did not come near.
“It’s good to have the target on your back,” Durant said. “It’s going to get the best out of you.”
Durant had just 7 seconds left and the Nets suffered their first loss of the season after blowing out Golden State and Boston.
‘I do not think we [had] a sense of urgency. We were not very passive, “said coach Steve Nash. ‘We’ll have a target on our backs, and we need to get the opportunity.
‘You think you might be a better team, [but] you are going to get a team that is much better than the night before because they see the names in the back of the jersey and they will get the opportunity. ‘
For a Nets team that used to be the hunter, this is an attitude adjustment. They are in the rare position of being hunted, even though they have not won anything yet.
“From my whole life a net, it’s definitely something I have to get used to,” Allen said. “No disrespect to us, but we were never the top player. We were always the backlogs fighting and looking at other people as targets. And now the roles have been reversed. ”
The Nets were extended 64-26 in the paint, partly due to a defensive interruption of the switches and partly due to 19 times that allowed Charlotte to get into a transition and early attack. Spencer Dinwiddie left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury and did not return.
Yet the Nets were just 84-81 lower in the fourth position when they surrendered a 13-0 run, with a Miles Bridges 3 fullback making it 97-81 with 7:59 left.
The Nets did try to pull together and scored 10 straight with a Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot 3 pulling them in within six.
The run reached 18-4, Allen earning a trip to the line with 2:20 to play. But after sinking the first, he missed the second to let the Nets stand 101-99. Then Irving is blocked, leading to a corner from Devonte ‘Graham 3. The nets run with five behind and never get over the hump.
Another Luwawu Cabarrot 3 pulled them inside 104-102, and they had a chance after PJ Washington missed two free throws. Durant had a two-man game with Irving, had a chance for a dagger 3, but took a few dribbles and pulled away from 9 feet. His shot turned around with 7.4 seconds.
Terry Rozier’s free throw ensured there would be no OT.
“I thought it was going to go inside. It looked good, ‘said Durant. ‘I’m sure we’ll get the situation back during the season, and I can benefit from that.
“It was good to play in a fourth quarter again, play a game that we had to fight uphill and claw back to get back in the game. … They made more plays than we did. But it was fun to play in that area again. ”