Brooklyn has no incentive to tank, as its 2016 first-rounder is owned by Boston as part of the ill-fated 2013 trade which brought in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. And the Nets have been competitive of late, going 3-4 after losing 15 of 17.
They did give the red-hot Trail Blazers a challenge, battling back from a 14-point first-quarter deficit and a 19-point margin in the third to briefly move ahead in the fourth. The game was tied at 101 with two minutes left before Portland closed on an 11-3 run for its sixth straight win.
"We had a lot more energy (in the second half) and we knuckled down on defense and got some stops," center Brook Lopez said. "We came out a bit relaxed. I don't know what it was. There really is no excuse to start that way."
Lopez led the near-comeback with a season-high 36 points and is averaging 24.8 over the last 11 games. He had 23 in a 94-91 home victory over Phoenix on Dec. 1, helping the Nets amass a 50-34 advantage in the paint.
Brooklyn hasn't won when scoring under 100 since that result, having dropped 21 straight when failing to reach that mark.
Getting there may not be too difficult against Phoenix, which has yielded 101 or more in 24 of 29. The Suns have been particularly dreadful defensively in three games since the All-Star break, allowing opponents to average 119.3 points and make 46.9 percent of their 3-point attempts. >> Read more…