Nets host Jazz without Kevin Durant

NBA Basketball

The Brooklyn Nets are among the highest-scoring teams in the NBA, but they’ll be missing one of their best scorers when they host the Utah Jazz in New York on Tuesday.

Kevin Durant, the team’s leading scorer at 28.2 points per game, has been ruled out because of “health and safety protocols.” Several reports Monday said Durant would be quarantined for seven days because of contact tracing and exposure to a positive COVID-19 case.

That will make the Nets’ task against Utah more difficult.

The Nets are struggling defensively of late and hope to correct some of their defensive woes against the Jazz, who are coming off their highest-scoring game of the season.

The Nets have lost their past two games and are 1-4 in their past five after cruising to blowout wins over Golden State and Boston to start the season. Because they held those teams to less than 100 points, the Nets are allowing 113.4 points per game for the season. But in the five games since those first two, Nets opponents have averaged 120 points.

Second-chance points were a particular problem Sunday when the Nets took a 123-122 loss to the Washington Wizards.

“I think there is a pattern,” said Nets coach Steve Nash, whose team gave up 17 second-chance points and scored just four against the Wizards. “I think we are making simple mistakes defensively. Not sticking to our game plan as well as we can and from the treetops, that’s probably somewhat to be expected. We’d like to clean it up quicker and without a lot of practicing time — playing 17 (games) in 31 days in a month, we got to figure out a way to get that done.”

The Nets lost when they could not get a rebound of a missed jumper by Bradley Beal. Thomas Bryant wound up with the game-winning dunk. Allowing Bryant’s dunk capped a game where Brooklyn allowed 58 points in the paint, 23 points off 20 turnovers and took 23 fewer shots than Washington (104-81).

Those issues negated 49.4 percent shooting by Brooklyn and big nights by Kyrie Irving and Durant. Irving scored 30 points while Durant totaled 28 points, but each player missed a potential game-winning shot.

“It wasn’t like we were being pressured in turning the ball over,” Nash said. “It was just simple mistakes. It’s something we’ve got to definitely clean up. You can’t, obviously, have a 23-shot deficit and win. And having said that, we had two looks at it to win.”

Utah heads to Brooklyn on its first winning streak of the season after splitting its first four contests. The Jazz followed up Friday’s 106-100 win over the Los Angeles Clippers by opening a seven-game trip with a 130-109 win at San Antonio on Sunday.

Utah was able to negate 20 turnovers and a 57.9 percent showing at the free-throw line by producing its best shooting performance of the season. The Jazz set season highs by making 21 of 41 3-pointers and shooting 55.1 percent for the floor overall.

Former Net Bojan Bogdanovic scored a season-high 28 points and six 3-pointers while wearing a brace on his wrist. Donovan Mitchell added 22 and nine assists, while Rudy Gobert totaled 16 rebounds and a season-high six blocked shots.

“I think we played the way we want to play — driving and finding the open guys; and we’ve got a lot of guys that can knock down shots, and we saw it again tonight,” Gobert said. “When we move the ball and get catch-and-shoot 3s, we’re very, very efficient.”

Utah has won the past four meetings with Brooklyn and seven of the last eight.

–Field Level Media

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