Points should be plentiful when Warriors visit Nets

NEW YORK -- The Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets are in the NBA's top three in possessions per game and 3-point attempts.

The similarities on offense end there.

The NBA's top-scoring offense meets the league's worst-scoring defense Thursday night when the Warriors visit the Nets.

Golden State (25-4) averages 100 possessions per game and is capitalizing on it by averaging a league-best 117.4 points per game and producing an offensive rating of 116.

Brooklyn (7-20) averages a league-high 101.7 possessions per game and a respectable 106.6 points per game, placing them in the top 10. The drop-off comes with the offensive rating of 104, which places the Nets in the bottom third of the league.

The reasons for the differences is because the Warriors make 38 percent of their 3-point attempts while the Nets convert only 32.9 percent from long range. The Warriors also make the most of those possessions by shooting a league-best 49.6 percent, while the Nets make only 43.7 percent of their shots.

Golden State takes a five-game winning streak into the opener of a three-game trip that concludes with a Christmas Day visit to Cleveland. During the streak, the Warriors are averaging 114.2 points, shooting 47.8 percent, making 39.5 percent of their 3-point tries and averaging 32.2 assists.

Golden State kept the streak going despite being "held to" 24 assists in a 104-74 victory over the Utah Jazz on Tuesday. The Warriors were held under 30 assists for the ninth time and below 25 for the third time but still found a way, especially defensively.

"It was ugly," Warriors forward Draymond Green said. "We just continued to take good shots and we continued to take care of the ball. Nothing crazy. We did a good job sticking to the script."

The script included Stephen Curry leading the Warriors with 25 points, Kevin Durant adding 22 and Klay Thompson contributing 17 as Golden State won by at least 30 points for the fifth time.

Golden State's defense, which allows 103.9 points per game, gave up a season-low 74 and held a team under 90 for the fourth time.

"The game plan wasn't anything special or out of the ordinary," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "Challenge jump shots, keep the ball out of the paint and rebound. I thought we did a great job of that. It was really one of my favorite games of the year for us."

The Nets rarely earn praise for their defense as they allow a league-worst 114.4 points per game, resulting in a defensive rating of 111.6. Brooklyn is allowing opponents to shoot 46.3 percent and make 36.9 of their 3-pointers, and those figures place them in the bottom third of defensive rankings.

Brooklyn, looking to snap a three-game losing streak, faces the league's best team before visiting Cleveland on Friday. The Nets allowed 21 fourth-quarter points in a 107-97 home win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 14 but surrendered 114 points per game on a three-game road trip through Orlando, Philadelphia and Toronto.

The latest setback occurred Tuesday in Toronto when the Nets allowed the Raptors to shoot 46.2 percent in a 116-104 loss. Brooklyn fell to 3-15 in its past 18 games.

Since Nov. 12, the Nets have allowed more than 110 points in 14 losses, and nine defeats were by double digits.

"Transition defense," Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. "I was upset at halftime. I told the team our inability to get back on defense just wasn't good enough. You can miss the shots, you can even turn it over, but I thought we didn't get back."

Tuesday marked the first time Jeremy Lin was in the starting lineup since he injured his left hamstring Nov. 2. Lin returned last week after missing 18 games, and he played three games off the bench before Tuesday.

Lin scored 12 points in 25 minutes against Toronto. The Nets were outscored by 15 points when he was on the court, including a 17-3 run to end the first half.

"Just disappointed," Lin said. "Felt like we didn't play as hard as we're supposed to, and that's never a good thing. We didn't do a good job of getting stops."

Brook Lopez did not play, as the Nets rested him for the third time this season. In his previous two games immediately following a night off, Lopez scored 13 points against the Chicago Bulls on Oct. 31 and 30 against the Lakers on Nov. 15.

Golden State swept the season series from the Nets last season.

Curry scored 21 of his 34 points after halftime in a 107-99 overtime win on Nov. 14, 2015. On Dec. 6. 2015, in Brooklyn, Curry scored 16 of his 28 in the third quarter of a 114-98 win.
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