BROOKLYN — There was still 10:53 left in the fourth quarter when Donovan Mitchell posterized Yuta Watanabe during Tuesday’s Nets game against the Cavaliers. But at that point, the game had already seemed like it was over.
The Nets dropped their fourth consecutive game 115-109 to the Cavaliers in the first of a two-game set with Cleveland at Barclays Center. Brooklyn started the game well, but a seven-point lead at the end of the first quarter quickly evaporated and turned into a six-point advantage at halftime.
“I think we got a little stagnant with the basketball and some of those shots didn’t go in,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said about the change in the game. : At the end of the night, we got some quality looks, but 9-for-33 from three against a team like that. You have to make shots. I thought we got to the rim at a good clip. And overall, you know, early on, we had some good looks tough second quarter for us.
“And again, it’s along those lines of putting four quarters together. It always seems there’s one quarter that really punches us in the gut a little bit. So we got to be sustained through all those runs.”
Brooklyn never regained the lead as the Cavs took advantage of another poor shooting night by the Nets. Even when the Nets went on a fourth-quarter 11-0 run to close the gap with Cleveland, Brooklyn was still down double digits.
The loss was another tough blow for the Nets, who are trying to avoid dropping into a play-in round spot. Brooklyn had a one-point lead on the Miami Heat, who they’ll face this weekend after their second meeting with the Cavs on Thursday at Barclays Center.
The Nets are down to their final 10 games of the regular season.
Brooklyn finished the night shooting 44.6% from the field and 27.3% from three-point range. They did finish the night with 19 offensive rebounds for the second most the Nets have recorded this season.
“Just gotta keep shooting them. You know it’s part of life. you miss some, just gotta keep shooting them,” Mikal Bridges said about the Nets’ three-point shooting woes.
Day’Ron Sharpe led the team with 20 points off the bench along with a team-high 11 rebounds. Spencer Dinwiddie dropped 19 points and 11 assists, while Mikal Bridges had 18 on 9-of-21 shooting.
Cam Johnson shot 4-for-11 from the field, but had 16 points by the final buzzer.
The Nets traded buckets to start the game before Nic Claxton’s cutting layup and free throw gave Brooklyn an 11-8 lead with 8:19 left in the first quarter. An alley-oop dunk by Claxton later in the period gave the Nets a four-point lead and it grew to seven when Spencer Dinwiddie hit a stepback three with 1:42 left in the opening quarter.
A Joe Harris three with 16.5 left on the clock made it a seven-point game yet again after Caris LeVert cut it to four.
A 10-2 run to open up the second quarter gave the Cavaliers the lead. Evan Mobley’s slam dunk with 9:24 left in the half put Cleveland ahead for good and they never looked back.
Tuesday’s game, the first of two between the Nets and Cavaliers, was played after a report surfaced last week that suggested Cleveland was hoping to draw Brooklyn in the playoffs. The Nets tried to downplay things before the game with Spencer Dinwiddie and Nic Claxton both saying it wasn’t something that the team was concerned with.
Vaughn said before the tipoff that he wasn’t aware of the report.
“You never know what’s gonna happen,” Vaughn said before the game. “I think if that happened that way we would address it at that time. But today’s game, that’s the most important game.”