Cleveland Cavaliers 121-114 Brooklyn Nets: Three Takeaways

Joe Harris had the best performance of his young career, but the Nets couldn't contain LeBron James in a defeat

BROOKLYN – The fourth quarter cost the Nets again in a tough 121-114 defeat to the visiting Cavaliers.

Brooklyn held a nine-point lead in the third quarter, before Cleveland would go on a 9-0 run to cut the score to 80-79. While the home team had a four-point lead entering the fourth quarter, the momentum shifted towards the visitors.

“They force you into iso-ball a little bit and that’s not our cup of tea,” Kenny Atkinson explained after the game.

Joe Harris led the Nets with a career-high 30 points on an incredible 11-for-14 shooting. LeBron James had a dominant performance with 37 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

“I mean, as good as they [the Cavaliers] are and he is [James] in the fourth quarter, we never really found a solution to stop him in the fourth,” Atkinson said.

Here’s Three Observations from the Game:

Nets Fourth Quarter Issues Continue

The Nets led by as many as nine points, but were once again undone by the final 12 minutes of the game.

Brooklyn was outscored 34-25 in the final quarter, negating the strong performance shown throughout the previous 36 minutes. This is a continual issue for the team as its seen strong leads wiped away in its past six games and as a result, the team has gone 2-4 during that stretch.

There isn’t one particular thing that is hurting the Nets during the final 12 minutes of games, there are several factors – all of which appear to point at inexperience. After executing on both sides of the floor for three quarters, there are lapses on those ends that are costing the Nets. Missed free throws, botched defensive assignments and stagnating offense, these are all areas that Brooklyn needs to address if it is going to snap its current three-game losing streak.

“Thirty-four points is a lot to give up [in the fourth],” Atkinson said. “That was the difference, that was the spread right there.”

Joe Harris’ Career Performance

The Nets’ reserve picked the perfect time to break out of a recent quiet stretch. Harris torched his former team with a career-high in points with 30 points. He also added five boards and three assists.

 “I just got into rhythm early,” Harris said as he reflected on his performance. “We were moving the ball well and I was able to get in-rhythm looks right from the get-go. I hit my first couple and for some reason, it just felt good after that. I was a bit more aggressive in hunting shots…It started at the beginning of the game.”

 Harris insisted that this wasn’t a revenge game against his former team, but he came out firing from the moment he checked into the game. The fourth-year swingman was especially hot in the first half, as he scored 20 points on 8-for-9 shooting – including four threes. Harris entered Sunday’s game averaging 9.0 points per game, not far off from his season average of 10.3 ppg, but offensively, he wasn’t playing up to his usual standard. He put on a show on Sunday night to showcase how effective he can be.

D’Angelo Russell praised his teammate’s performance after the game.

“He’s been solid throughout the season,” Russell said. “He knows his job, he knows his role [and] he embraces it.”

Dinwiddie Gets Back to His Best

Dinwiddie’s breakout season actually started against the Cavaliers when these two teams last met at Barclays Center. The point guard scored 22 points and added six dimes in an upset 112-107 win. Dinwiddie had a similar impact coming off the bench on Sunday. 

The 24-year-old poured in 16 points and four boards in just 25 minutes, playing a significant role in the strong performance by the Nets’ second unit. Brooklyn's bench outscored Cleveland's second unit 60-42. Dinwiddie got going early as he was able to score six points off of just one field goal, thanks to getting to the line. Coming off of a game where he had just five points against Toronto, the Nets needed a good showing from Dinwiddie in order to compete with the Cavaliers. Despite the result, he was a big part of why the team went blow-for-blow with one of the favorites for the NBA title.  

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