Streaking Nets play host to weakened Warriors

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

During their six-game winning streak, the Brooklyn Nets have demonstrated an ability to win close games.

The past two games featured slow starts before the Nets displayed standout execution in the fourth quarter. They hope to get off to a quicker start Wednesday night when they host the struggling Golden State Warriors.

Brooklyn's average margin of victory during its streak is 5.2 points, with the largest margin of victory coming in a 112-100 road win over the Washington Wizards on Dec. 12. The Nets are returning home after consecutive three-point wins in Toronto and Detroit that featured comebacks from double-digit deficits capped by dramatic finishes down the stretch.

"It's a big challenge for us, so I think we've gotta raise our level of play," Brooklyn forward Royce O'Neale said of facing top competition. "The way we've been playing sometimes, (we) can't come out with lack of energy."

In a 119-116 win over the Raptors on Friday, the Nets faced an 18-point deficit late in the second quarter and were down by 10 at halftime. Brooklyn shot 70 percent in the fourth quarter and got the win on Kyrie Irving's 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Two nights later against the Pistons, the Nets rallied from a 19-point, first-half deficit for a 124-121 victory. Brooklyn shot nearly 60 percent while outscoring Detroit 70-50 in the second half.

The common denominators in both comeback wins were standout performances from Kevin Durant and Irving. On Sunday, Durant has scored 26 of his 43 points in the third before Irving scored 14 of his 38 in the fourth. Irving collected 15 of his 32 points on Friday in the final period.

After surviving their slow starts, the Nets are 12-5 in games decided by single digits, including a 7-2 mark in games decided by five points or fewer.

"Definitely has to be an increased level of focus and readiness," Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn said. "You don't want to go into a game and dig yourself into a hole like we had the last two games ... because you might not be digging your way out of those."

Golden State is set to play its fourth game since losing Stephen Curry to a left shoulder subluxation in a 125-119 loss at the Indiana Pacers a week ago. After splitting games in Philadelphia and Toronto, the Warriors absorbed a wire-to-wire, 132-94 loss to the host New York Knicks on Tuesday.

The ugly defeat dropped Golden State to a league-worst 3-15 away from home. It was the Warriors' sixth defeat in the past eight games.

"We stank tonight," Golden State coach Steve Kerr said after his team allowed at least 130 points for the fourth time. "We're trying to hang in there -- and we will. Another game (Wednesday)."

Jordan Poole, who led the Warriors with 26 points, is averaging 32.7 points in the three games since Curry was injured. Poole likely will be tasked with being Golden State's top option since Klay Thompson will sit out after the second half of a back-to-back set due to injury management and Andrew Wiggins will miss his ninth straight game because of a groin injury.

Golden State is 10-3 in its past 13 meetings with Brooklyn.

--Field Level Media

Updated December 21, 2022