Nets drop brutal game to depleted Grizzlies without Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and many others

NEW YORK — The Memphis Grizzlies had just 10 available players Monday night, not including All-Star forward Jaren Jackson Jr., who was ruled out before tip because of a quad injury. Other than sharpshooter Luke Kennard, no one in their starting five was a household name.

But the names on the back of the road team’s jerseys did not matter much in this matchup. The Nets, who fell behind 12-5 early, quickly learned that they were up against a far more prideful group compared to the one they beat by 25 points inside FedExForum a week ago. Brooklyn rallied from its early deficit to take a 31-29 lead into the second quarter and found itself engaged in a slugfest throughout the rest of regulation.

After 11 lead changes, 10 ties and a handful of brutal fouls, it was Memphis who escaped Barclays Center with a 106-102 victory, ending the Nets’ hopes for their first three-game winning streak since Dec. 2 – Dec. 8.

The Grizzlies were up 80-77 at the end of the third quarter and matched Brooklyn’s 25 points over the final 12 minutes of action. The Nets went 7-of-19 from the field in the fourth quarter (3-of-12 from deep) and committed four turnovers. They had 16 turnovers total, which led to 16 points for Memphis.

Brooklyn (24-37) is now 2.5 games behind the Atlanta Hawks for 10th place in the Eastern Conference Standings. The Toronto Raptors are one game behind the Nets for 11th place.

Nic Claxton led the Nets with 21 points, six rebounds and two assists in the loss. He was the only Brooklyn player to score at least 20 points on Monday night. Kennard — the only reliable scoring threat available for head coach Taylor Jenkins — paced Memphis with 25 points and six 3-pointers. He went 8-of-11 from the field and 6-of-9 from deep.

Ben Simmons and Cam Thomas both missed their fourth straight game against the Grizzlies.

While it was an evenly played game across the board, poor shooting in the opening minutes, horrendous free throw accuracy and an inability to control the glass, ultimately doomed the Nets. The Grizzlies won the rebounding battle 51-33 and had 15 offensive rebounds that contributed to 25 second-chance points.

The Nets attempted eight more free throws than Memphis, but Memphis still had one more make than them at the charity stripe. Brooklyn went 17-of-30 from the line while the Grizzlies went 18-of-22. That was ultimately the difference on Monday night.

The Nets will return to the court Tuesday against the Philadelphia 76ers in the second game of a back-to-back set. Brookyn beat a shorthanded 76ers squad without Joel Embiid 136-121 on Feb. 3 in Philadelphia.