The Brooklyn Nets enjoyed such a unique 2022 that they endured the frustration of an 11-game losing streak and the excitement of an 11-game winning streak.
The win streak is still intact, and the Nets go for their 12th straight victory Monday night when they open the 2023 portion of their schedule by hosting the San Antonio Spurs.
Brooklyn dropped 11 straight Jan. 23-Feb 12 when Kevin Durant was unavailable due to a knee injury and Kyrie Irving was unavailable for home games due to a vaccine mandate in New York. The skid contributed to a 44-win season that ended with an unceremonious four-game sweep by the Boston Celtics in the first round followed by a turbulent summer when Durant reportedly asked to be traded.
Then came a rough start to the season resulting in Jacque Vaughn replacing Steve Nash as coach when the Nets lost five of their seven. Then came an eight-game suspension for Irving but the Nets figured it out and are on their longest win streak since setting a franchise record with 14 straight March 12-April 6, 2006, when Vaughn appeared in every game as a reserve guard.
Brooklyn’s winning streak is the longest in the NBA since the Phoenix Suns won 11 straight Jan. 11-Feb. 1, and the Nets are attempting to become the first team with a 12-game run since the Suns won 18 straight Oct. 30-Dec 2, 2021.
Brooklyn kept it going by ending a three-game road trip with a 123-106 victory over the Charlotte Hornets. After getting close wins in Cleveland and Atlanta, the Nets shot 60 percent from the floor, marking the fourth time they shot at least 60 percent in the streak and 21st time this season they shot at least 50 percent.
“It was one of those years you reflect on,” Durant said. “You see the turning point in your organization, see different moments that brought us together. You start to see us coming together and form what we’ve been looking to do these last couple of years, a solid team that plays hard every night. We went through a lot this calendar year but we’re looking for bigger and better things in 2023.”
Durant has played in 10 games during the streak, only sitting out to rest on the second night of a back-to-back in Indiana on Dec. 10. He scored 23 points Saturday and is averaging 29.2 points during the streak.
Irving led the Nets with 28 points and is averaging 29.5 points in the nine games he has played during the streak after going 16 of 31 from 3-point range on the trip.
San Antonio is 6-6 in its past 12 games since an 11-game skid Nov. 14-Dec. 4. The Spurs have produced their best four shooting performances in that span, including Saturday when they shot 55.3 percent in a 126-125 loss to the visiting Dallas Mavericks.
San Antonio was unable to stop Luka Doncic, who scored 51 points as the Mavs shot 58.1 percent. It was the fifth time an opponent made at least 58 percent from the floor against San Antonio and 21st instance of the Spurs allowing at least 50 percent shooting.
Despite allowing a big night from Doncic, the Spurs nearly erased a 17-point deficit over the final 17-plus minutes thanks to big games from Keldon Johnson (30 points) and rookie Jeremy Sochan (20 points).
“You would rather win than lose like everybody else in the world, but (I’m) really proud of their effort and the way they just kept going even after we got down whatever it was,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
–Field Level Media