Published January 13, 2015
The Brooklyn Nets mercifully end their eight-game road trip on Wednesday when they visit Quicken Loans Arena to meet the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Nets are 4-3 on the sojourn that began on March 18. The record is good, but a tad misleading as Brooklyn has lost its last two. The Nets fell in Denver on Friday night, then lost by nine in Utah to the Jazz on Saturday.
"We're a little disappointed, especially after how well we played in Portland," said Deron Williams, referring to Wednesday's 19-point blowout of the Blazers. "That tends to happen in the last couple of a road trips like this."
Against the Jazz, the Nets shot a solid 52 percent from the floor, but allowed Utah to make 55.6 percent from the field and almost 59 percent from behind the 3-point line.
Brook Lopez led the Nets with 27 points. Williams had 21 and 11 assists and C.J. Watson added 22 off the bench. It was a good night for the Brooklyn reserves. The four second-stringers combined for 50 points.
The Nets have lost ground both in the race for the Atlantic Division title, and in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. They are five games behind the Knicks for the Atlantic crown and only one game ahead of the Atlanta Hawks for fifth.
The Cavaliers will miss the playoffs for the third straight season and have lost nine straight, including four in a row at home.
Even All-Star guard Kyrie Irving's return on Sunday couldn't help the struggling Cleveland franchise. The Cavs got creamed Sunday in New Orleans, then lost in Atlanta on Monday.
Against the Hawks, Irving sat to avoid a back-to-back. C.J. Miles couldn't go with a sore right ankle and rookie Dion Waiters has been shelved since March 18 with a strained knee.
Daniel Gibson was ejected before he hit the 10-minute mark in playing time, so the shorthanded Cavs couldn't compete with the Hawks, losing 102-94.
"I told our guys that we have to battle like that the rest of the season," said Cavs coach Byron Scott, referring to the adversity. "That's how we have to play. I told them I thought they played as hard as they could play tonight. They were very physical, and if we fight like that every night, we'll be okay."
Marreese Speights paced the Cavs with 23 points off the bench. Shaun Livingston, Tyler Zeller, Alonzo Gee and Wayne Ellington scored in double figures for Cleveland.
The Nets, who play three straight when they return to Brooklyn, have won both of this season's matchups and three straight over the Cavs. The Nets have taken three of their last four in Cleveland.