HOUSTON — Gone are the days of the hype and fanfare that follows the Brooklyn Nets. There are no superstars such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, or James Harden. The only recognizable name on the Nets is Ben Simmons, and his time on the court has become so limited by injuries that he might as well be an assistant coach.
Yet, without big-name players on the roster, the Nets have continued to win and cause issues for teams. The Houston Rockets found out Tuesday at the Toyota Center, falling to Brooklyn 118-96. The Nets improved to 37-28 and remain on track for a potential berth in the Eastern Conference playoffs, despite losing all of those stars.
After winning consecutive games versus San Antonio, Houston needed more scoring plays in the second half to defeat Brooklyn. One glaring difference between the two teams was the abundance of veteran players for the Nets and the lack thereof for the Rockets.
“They executed really well, and their veteran leadership took over,” said Rockets guard Jalen Green, who scored a team-high 25 points.
Rockets head coach Stephen Silas reiterated Green’s point after Wednesday’s practice while also focusing on the teaching aspect of his young team playing a veteran-led team like the Nets.
“It is a learning moment for our group, because they don’t play star basketball,” said Silas of Brooklyn.
Houston’s starting lineup since trading Eric Gordon to the Los Angeles Clippers in February and having Kevin Porter Jr. return from injury has no player over the age of 22, and its average service time in the NBA is less than three years. Starting rookie power forward Jabari Smith Jr. is still a teenager at 19 years old. It is hard to win NBA games when most of your players were born in the 2000s.
“Just keep trying to win,” said Nets guard Mikal Bridges when asked about the advice he would give a young team like Houston. “Play together and keep trying to win. I know it’s tough, and tough losing.”
“I think they are so talented,” said Bridges, who was part of a gradual transition from rebuilding to contender when he began his career alongside Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. “I talked to some of those guys every time I played against them when I was in Phoenix.”
“I like them a lot, and they are all talented as hell,” Bridges said of Houston’s current young core. “They just can’t get comfortable with losing. They need to play off each other, and I think they have that energy, and I feel like they all vibe off of each other.”
With 17 games left in the season, the Rockets (15-50) hope to put together some winning habits that could become consistent next season. Their next opportunity comes Thursday night at Indiana, with tipoff from Gainbridge Fieldhouse set for 6:00 pm Central.
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Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire