Thunder vs. Nets: Why Brooklyn's Tight Loss Proves They're Legit Contenders

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Thunder vs. Nets: Why Brooklyn's Tight Loss Proves They're Legit Contenders

The Brooklyn Nets (11-6) may have lost at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder (15-4) on Tuesday night, but that win proved to be something positive for the new-look Nets.

Brooklyn fell 117-111 to the powerhouse Thunder at the Barclays Center, but the Nets played extremely well in the second half.

After trailing 61-48 at halftime, the Nets mounted a comeback in the third quarter, outscoring the Thunder 38-29 to cut OKC's lead to four points entering the fourth quarter.

And they did it all without starting center and leading-scorer Brook Lopez.

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Lopez missed his third straight game with a sprained right foot (h/t, meaning that Brooklyn was at a clear disadvantage without its top scorer and leading shot-blocker.

Still, the Nets managed to prove their worth as a legitimate NBA title contender by hanging tough with Oklahoma City as Deron Williams netted 33 points and dished out seven assists.

Andray Blatche—who usually comes off the bench to spell Lopez—scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a starting effort, as Brooklyn's bench wasn't as deep as usual with Lopez and Reggie Evans missing from the lineup.

Evans, who's Brooklyn's leading rebounder, missed Tuesday night's game with the flu, according to ESPN.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

If you factor in the fact that the Nets were without their leading scorer and their leading rebounder, you could make the argument that they would have beaten the Thunder.

Still, even in the loss, it's clear to see that the Nets are ready to contend in the East this season.

Brooklyn sports four players scoring in double figures (Williams, Lopez, Blatche and Joe Johnson) and plays excellent defense, as it ranks No. 2 in points allowed, surrendering just over 91 PPG.

Having already beat the Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics twice, the Nets are beating contending teams and will only get more dangerous as they spend more time on the court together.

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