PORTLAND – The basketball gods offered the Brooklyn Nets a gift in their final game of a three-game West Coast road trip.
Portland’s All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge (respiratory illness) and starting small forward Nicolas Batum (knee bruise) were out.
After dropping games in Phoenix and Golden State, the Nets had a chance to salvage the trip and return to Brooklyn with a winning record.
The Nets were not in a receiving mood.
Playing their worst first quarter of the season, the Nets fell behind early. They got it to within 88-82 with less than three and a half minutes remaining but gave up a key offensive rebound at the three-minute mark. Wesley Matthews hit Portland’s 11th three-pointer to close out the win.
The Nets missed 18 of 19 three-pointers.
The result was a 97-87 loss that leaves the Nets 4-5 on the season. It was their lowest scoring output of the season.
The Nets try to snap a three-game losing streak on Monday night when they host the LeBron James-less Miami Heat in Barclays Center.
“We didn’t get the win but I commended us for being in all of these games,’’ said Coach Lionel Hollins. “These are tough environments that we played in. And every one of these teams were tough to match up.’’
KEY MATCHUP: It was a battle of the twins with Brook Lopez facing his brother Robin. Brook finished with 21 points and four rebounds. Robin finished with 10 points and seven boards.
NETS' GAINS: Kevin Garnett, in his 20th season, posted his third double-double in seven games. The Big Ticket had 12 points and 12 rebounds. Coach Lionel Hollins, as he had done earlier this season, move KG to center for defensive purposes in the second half.
HOLLINS COMES HOME: Lionel Hollins was the starting point guard on the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers team that won the NBA title. By the time he got to the locker room after the title-clinching game, one of his jerseys was gone. Years later he saw it advertised on eBay. Hollins contacted the seller who graciously returned the jersey.
KEY MOMENT: With the scored tied 13-13, the Nets missed all seven field goal attempts and committed four turnovers in the final minutes of the first quarter and trailed 24-15 going into the second.
KEY STATISTIC: The Nets were outscored 33-0 on three-pointers. Portland was 11 of 25 from behind the arc. The Nets missed their first 17 three-pointers before Deron Williams drained one with 18 seconds left.
TALK: Despite going 0 for 3 on this trip, Coach Lionel Hollins was surprisingly optimistic after the loss.
“Why shouldn’t we be positive?’’ said Hollins. “That’s the question I would ask you. Why shouldn’t we be positive? We played well enough in spurts on this road trip. We just got to get better.’’