Brooklyn Nets Portland TrailBlazers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets never got into any rhythm, losing to an experienced Portland Trailblazers team at the Barclays Center.

Matt Brooks

The Brooklyn Nets left NBA All-Star Weekend feeling on top of the world. Their 22-year-old point guard scored six points against the best players in the world. Two-thirds of Brooklyn’s starting frontcourt played in the Rising Stars game.

Best of all, the bearded wonder himself, Joe Harris, defeated Stephen-freaking-Curry in the Three-Point Contest. Disney Pictures themselves couldn’t write a more perfect story.

Well, given how Thursday’s game went, I think the celebration was cut pretty short.

There’s no way around this; Brooklyn was cooked like a delicious s’more by a physical Portland Trailblazers team. Portland is a team that has steadily improved every single season since losing its star, LaMarcus Aldridge, in the summer of 2016. They looked every bit the part of a grizzled playoff veteran. As for the Nets, well, they looked happy to be there.

(Look, I don’t want to sound like I’m going too hard on this young team, but these are the types of games the Nets need to win to make a strong playoff push.)

For a game that featured two All-Star point guards, the contest looked like anything but an all-worldly showcase of backcourts. D’Angelo Russell had his worst game in recent memory, missing 12 of his total 16 shots. If there are any children around, shield their eyes from this one: he also finished with a plus/minus of -30.

Since being announced as an All-Star, D’Angelo has shot just 40.3 from the field and 33.9 percent from three. Part of this pertains to his heightened workload, given that his teammates have been dropping like flies due to injury. But regardless, the Nets need their star to play more efficiently.

To be fair to D-Lo, Damian Lillard wasn’t much better. He finished 5-of-21 on the night, missing seven of his nine attempts from deep.

The story of this game was the pair of performances by Portland’s bigs. Former Knick, Enes Kanter, and Jusuf Nurkic ate against the opposing Brooklyn bigs.

For all of his talents on defense, Jarrett Allen struggles mightily against more physical foes. Opposing bigs who push Allen out of his defensive stance tend to have their way against the 20-year-old Fro-enthusiast.

I covered this in greater detail back in mid-January. Interestingly enough, one of the examples named in this piece was Portland’s newcomer, Enes Kanter.

Kanter made his mark on the game, putting up an 8-of-9 shooting line that certainly had Neil Olshey smiling. It will be interesting to see if he can take Portland’s ceiling up a level, helping the Blazers break their curse of being a perennial first-round bounce.

Brooklyn has now dropped to 30-30 on the season. The Nets have dropped an alarming seven of their last 10 games. It’s worth noting that the team has a brutal stretch in the not-so-distant future.

Brooklyn must Magic Erase this loss from memory and focus on the next challenge ahead. The Nets should continue working on smoothing out the rotation with Caris LeVert back in the lineup.

They will have a chance to achieve both of these goals on Saturday. The Brooklyn Nets head to Charlotte to face the seventh-place Hornets.

You can watch the game at 7 p.m. ET over on YES network.

An NBA fanatic who specializes in the advanced analytics of the game. I cover the Brooklyn Nets here in the city. Follow me on Twitter for semi-witty basketball tweets. @MattBrooksNBA