The Brooklyn Nets are in Detroit on Friday night after a 118-88 loss to Utah on Wednesday that head coach Steve Nash was quickly ready to move on from.
The Nets were without James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant, with Harden being ruled out on gameday with neck soreness from a collision on Sunday against Washington. Harden had played on Tuesday against Portland as a game time decision. In addition, Blake Griffin was held out on the second night of a back-to-back and Landry Shamet was also out with an ankle sprain suffered on Sunday.
With Utah jumping out to a 21-point first quarter lead, Nash quickly called it a night for Joe Harris and DeAndre Jordan, and eventually Jeff Green sat out the second half as well.
“We don't take anything from this, missing our three top players, missing Blake,” said Nash. “Once the game got away early we kind of were able to rest some of our other rotation guys. So we don't take anything from this game except for the opportunity for young guys to develop and play and get an opportunity. So we'll move on to Detroit and hopefully have some guys back to play.”
Irving, Durant and Shamet are all listed as out against the Pistons on Brooklyn's status report, while Harden is listed as questionable for the third straight game. Griffin is not listed on the report, so as Nash expected, he will be available.
ALIZE JOHNSON’S ARRIVAL
With all those absences, Alize Johnson seized an opportunity on Wednesday night in his first game with the Nets, scoring 23 points on 11-of-15 shooting with 15 rebounds and three assists.
“We didn't run anything for him; he just played hard, rebounded the ball really well, got in the cracks, cut, screened, rolled, played, ran the floor,” said Steve Nash. “He made a lot of little floaters in and around the basket — just activity and energy. So, great effort for a guy who joined us this morning.”
Johnson was signed to a 10-day contract on Monday. A 2018 second round pick by Indiana, he played 32 games for the Pacers over two seasons. The 6-foot-7, 212-pound forward was named to the All-NBA G League Second Team in March after averaging 16.6 points and 13.3 rebounds for Raptors 905, helping lead the team to a league-leading 12-3 record in the G League’s shortened season in a bubble setup in Florida.
He arrived in Utah on Tuesday while the Nets were playing in Portland and met Nash and the team on Wednesday morning.
“It was crazy,” said Johnson. “I was sitting at home probably for a week after the bubble. And I got the phone call from my agent and he told me I was going to be a Brooklyn Net. I was excited just knowing the great guys they’ve got here and the vets. And then, just coming here and that flight was about five hours. That was long, but then I got in and I met Nash. He was one of the first people I met. I had been watching him for a while, so that was pretty cool. Then, just getting all that information and getting out there on the floor tonight. It’s just truly a blessing, and I can’t be happier.”
REGGIE PERRY’S RETURN
Rookie forward Reggie Perry made saw his first NBA game action since Jan. 31 in Wednesday’s game against Utah, finishing with 12 points and eight rebounds, making 2-of-4 3-pointers.
“I feel pretty comfortable,” said Perry. “I’ve played with these guys a lot throughout practice and stuff, throughout stay ready group and stuff like that. The coaches do a good job of keeping the guys that aren’t playing as many minutes still playing so that they stay ready and I definitely put it in a lot of work on my shooting, so just being able to shoot the ball with confidence and being able to shoot it at a high clip was something I really worked on so I can stretch the floor.”
Perry is on a two-way contract with the Nets after being drafted in the second round. He spent February in the G League as well, with the Long Island Nets wrapping up their season on March 6. While with Long Island he averaged 18.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.9 assists in 15 games.
“Just playing in the bubble gave me another look at playing against former NBA players or current NBA players, so it definitely slowed the game down a lot,” said Perry. “I was a lot more comfortable out there than I was at the beginning of the season. For one, I'm in a lot better shape now than I was at the beginning of the season. For two, coach and them did a good job while I was down there in the bubble, just giving me tips and things to do to stay active on the court. But yeah, I definitely played a lot better, a lot more comfortable, and also just sitting down watching a lot of games that I'm not getting in, a lot of DNP games I'm not playing in. Just sitting down, watching how those guys are playing helped out a lot.”
The 6-foot-8 forward was part of unique lineup in the second quarter that included DeAndre Jordan and Nic Claxton as well, three players who have almost exclusively played center this season on the floor together at the same time, along with Alize Johnson, another forward, and point guard Chris Chiozza.
“At first when we saw it happening we all looked at each other like, ‘all right.’ I was sitting next to James for a minute before I went in with that lineup,” said Perry. “We both looked at each other like, ‘hold on.’ We just really approached it by going at our strengths, trying to kill them on the glass, trying to take away shots towards the goal and stuff like that. We just figured it out. It was a timeout and Steve Nash gave us a lot of good tips for us to get into a lot of good actions to get into with us three all out there. I felt like that helped a lot.”
ABOUT THE PISTONS
The Pistons are 12-31 and in last place in the Eastern Conference. The Nets have split their two meetings with Detroit this season, losing 122-11 on Feb. 9 and winning 100-95 on March 13. This is their final meeting of the season. Jerami Grant leads the Pistons with 23.4 points per game.