A quick stopover in Brooklyn — the only home game mixed in with a stretch of seven road games — brought the Nets back to Barclays Center, where they had won 12 of their previous 13 games to build the NBA’s second-best home record. But the Portland Trail Blazers handed the Nets a rare home loss, breaking away in the second half to a 128-109 win over the Nets.
With a five-game road trip beginning Sunday with the first of consecutive games at third-place Milwaukee, the first-place Nets are now 43-21.
Trailing 76-75 midway through the third quarter, the Nets were outscored 36-20 over the next 12 minutes as the Blazers took control.
The Nets were without Kevin Durant on the second half of a back-to-back, while Bruce Brown missed his third straight game and James Harden and Nic Claxton remained unavailable.
“I don't like to make excuses,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash. “I just think we weren't sharp tonight. You know it's gonna happen in the course of the season. Offensively we were a little bit stagnant, didn’t play with the pace I think that's necessary. And defensively, we didn't take care of some of the details in our scheme. So it's gonna happen, it's a matter of what we take from it. That's a good team playing well with healthy bodies. And we just weren’t ourselves today.”
Kyrie Irving led Brooklyn with 28 points and Jeff Green had 16. Mike James was next with 15 points.
Joe Harris scored 12 and Blake Griffin had 11 points and eight rebounds.
A string of early 3-pointers from Landry Shamet, Griffin, and Irving had Brooklyn up 9-2, and the Nets led 25-18 late in the first quarter before Portland closed to within 25-23 going into the second quarter.
Green scored 11 points in the second quarter to help Brooklyn match Portland’s 59.1 percent shooting in the period. The Blazers edged out to six-point leads on two occasions, and both times it was Green who answered for Brooklyn. His 3-pointer put the Nets back up 54-53, and after consecutive triples by the Blazers, another Green 3-pointer got Brooklyn back within 59-57 going into the break.
In the third quarter, Irving scored 11 straight points, the last of those bringing the Nets within 76-75 with 5:11 remaining in the quarter. But the Blazers followed with an 18-4 run and took a 94-81 lead into the fourth quarter.
Brooklyn was still within eight points early in the fourth quarter after two Harris 3-pointers before a 13-4 run lifted Portland to a 112-95 lead with 5:47 remaining.
“Clearly (Damian) Lillard got hot, but for me, like I said, we just weren’t really sharp and it was too many breakdowns,” said Nash. “You can take it when a guy lines you up from 35 feet and makes a few of those. You hold your hands up on those ones, but some of the other ones where we fall asleep, we’re not at the level of the ball on a switch or we switch when we’re supposed to be blitzing, or blitz when we’re supposed to be switching. Some of those throughout the game were too much for us to handle, and then offensively, we just weren’t sharp tonight. Balls weren’t on time or on the money, we didn’t play with enough pace, we didn’t spread ‘em out, and we just didn’t have that collective spirit tonight. So, we’ll learn from it, we’ll stick together, we’ll keep working. Our guys have been fantastic all year at adapting and building, so we’ve got another opportunity on Sunday.”