Nets’ offense comes back down to earth as they fall to Steph Curry, Warriors

One night after hanging 136 points on the short-handed 76ers in Philadelphia, the Nets’ offense came spiraling back down to earth in Monday’s 109-98 loss to the Golden State Warriors, a game where Ben Simmons sat out for precautionary reasons.

“That’s just a part of our world,” head coach Jacque Vaughn said. “It’s on me to get our group to adapt whether that’s different lineups, different substitution patterns, when he’s in, when he’s out.”

Buckets were hard to come by for both teams Monday night — especially from distance. The Nets held Golden State to 38.3% shooting in the first half and went into the locker room with a 49-43 advantage. But the Warriors, led by Jonathan Kuminga and Stephen Curry, quickly became the aggressors in the second half, outscoring Brooklyn 32-21 in the third quarter to take a five-point lead into the final frame.

The Nets’ largest lead in the first half was nine points. Golden State made just two 3-pointers in the first half, both from Curry, and turned the ball over 10 times.

Royce O’Neale did his best to keep the Nets in it down the stretch. He knocked down three 3-pointers in just over a minute to cut the Warriors’ lead to four with 7:37 left in regulation. But Curry responded with five straight points and suddenly the Warriors were getting to the rim just about whenever it wanted. A Brandin Podziemski layup put Golden State up 11 with 5:41 to play.

The Nets’ frustration boiled over with 4:59 left, when Nic Claxton slammed Podziemski onto the hardwood while trying to prevent him from grabbing another offensive rebound.

The play was reviewed. Referees found Claxton’s actions aggressive and unnecessary. He was ejected soon after, which spoiled a night where he tied a career-high with six blocks. Claxton was also Brooklyn’s most efficient scorer on Monday, converting on 7-of-9 attempts.

“I did sense and feel his frustration because we’re asking him to do a ton and he needs his teammates to cover his back when he’s guarding guys and blocking shots,” Vaughn said. “They have to come back and help him rebound.”

The Warriors went 13-for-22 in the fourth quarter (59.1%) and outscored Brooklyn 34-28. Curry, who finished with a game-high 29 points, poured in 12 in the final frame. Golden State outrebounded them 60-38, including 10 on the offensive glass. The absences of Simmons, Day’Ron Sharpe and Dorian Finney-Smith were felt.

“Just have to be better,” Cam Thomas said. “We rebounded well last game, had a setback today, but we just have to be better. Part of it [was] going small.”

Kumina added 28 points on 9-of-18 shooting for the Warriors. Cam Thomas led the Nets with 18 points but did it on a 4-of-21 clip (10-of-11 from the free throw line. Thomas, O’Neale, Mikal Bridges and Spencer Dinwiddie shot a combined 17-for-60 from the field. It was ugly.

The Nets (20-29) had won three of four games entering Monday night.

“Last game we made [shots]. This game we missed them. It goes up and down,” O’Neale said.

The Nets (20-29) had won three of their last four games entering Monday night.

Lonnie Walker IV left the game with 1:20 left in the first quarter and did not return. Left hamstring tightness was the initial diagnosis. He had missed 17 straight games earlier in the season because of a left hamstring strain.

Vaughn stuck with a seven-man rotation after Walker went down. Trendon Watford and Harry Giles III did not play.

“I thought that [seven-man] group, I was going to ride those guys tonight,” Vaughn said.

It will be a quick turnaround for the Nets, who return to action on Tuesday night against the Dallas Mavericks. It will be Kyrie Irving’s first game back at Barclays Center since last season’s trade, assuming he plays.