The Brooklyn Nets came into their matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder looking to close the gap between them and their crosstown rival New York Knicks for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff standings. Unfortunately, Brooklyn lost to a Thunder team fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive 107-121. After the game, Nets star Mikal Bridges said that the team got too “relaxed” in the second half, which contributed to the loss.
“I think we kind of maybe just relaxed a little bit because they’re (the Thunder) not gonna stop, you know? A couple of times you won’t be there, they’re gonna keep going (to the basket). So, it’s just the urgency, you just to stay locked in and keep making them kick it out,” Bridges said after the loss via YES Network.
“But credit to those guys, you know, and making the right play and, you know, like I said, Lu (Dort) making them threes kind of helped that dimension. They were small first in the second half, so switching things up, so credit to them and the coach.”
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Cam Johnson Sends Strong Message to Teammates
The Nets came out swinging to start the game and scored 62 points in the first half. But the second half had the greatest impact on their demise in the contest, as they allowed the Thunder to score 38 points in the third quarter. With Oklahoma City in a three-way tie for the 8th seed in the west with the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, it was clear that they were more desperate for the win.
With the Nets devoid of superstar talent, Cam Johnson says they will have to play a “scrappy” brand of basketball for them to win games.
“The biggest thing that we take away is we know how we need to play to win and then, sometimes just scrappy, gutty and dirty you know, we’re not playing pretty out there. And that’s how, you know, the game starts to favor us,” Johnson said after the loss via YES Network.
“So, I just think we need to get back to that and just, you know, continue to compete at a high level, and you know, it’s the NBA. You’re not going to win them all, you’re not going to lose them all. Some games go your way, some games don’t, but I think there’s a lot to learn.”
Jacque Vaughn Speaks Out on Nic Claxton
The Nets now face a looming decision in the coming days as their backup center Nerlens Noel’s 10-day contract expires on March 15. They have to decide whether to sign Noel to a second 10-day contract or move on from the former sixth-overall pick. With his future in Brooklyn still in tow, head coach Jacque Vaughn credited Noel for showing a little bit of everything, in the time he has spent with the Nets.
“Yeah, it’s interesting as I was talking to one of the coaches, and sometimes you get a 10-day, and that guy doesn’t play. And [Noel] has had ample playing time: Two games of over 18 minutes, and then the other night in a meaningful game versus Denver to be able to spell Nic [Claxton],” Vaughn said of Noel after the loss via YES Network.
“So had a chance to get a look at him. I think what he’s done is [taken] charges, blocks at the rim, the ability to have activity when using his speed and quickness. So those are those things we’ve seen from Nerlens, for sure.”