Steve Nash was proud of the effort his depleted Brooklyn Nets team put in during the loss to the Orlando Magic on Saturday.
The Eastern Conference leaders had 10 players in COVID-19 protocol, including the returning Kyrie Irving, as well as James Harden and Kevin Durant.
Such was the dire situation, the Nets signed James Ennis III and Shaquille Harrison before the game, while Cam Thomas and Kessler Edwards made their first career NBA starts and David Duke Jr just his third.
Despite the difficult circumstances, Duke hit a three to tie up the game before the Magic were able to win out 100-93.
Head coach Nash had nothing but praise for the way his side performed amid the circumstances, though.
"I thought it was an outstanding effort to get back in the game and tie it late, I'm really proud of the effort," he said.
"We probably made too many mistakes defensively but that effort to come back, find a way to level it and then we got a little unlucky, they made a tough three, we had a backcourt violation, those things happen.
"We probably had too much to make up for those offensive efforts but that's going to happen, we got a bunch of guys who are with us for the first time, got a bunch of guys who are playing extended minutes in multiple games for the first time, and overall I'm really proud of them it was a great effort."
We always pick ourselves up. pic.twitter.com/aIB6tcgsOZ— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) December 19, 2021
Patty Mills put up 23 points for the Nets, while Blake Griffin had 17 and Cam Thomas 15.
One of the brightest notes of the game came from the performance of Duke, though, who had 18 points and 14 rebounds.
"I thought he was great, I talked to him at halftime because I thought he looked to score a little too much," Nash added.
"We love him because he does so many things well; he defends, he steals, deflections, offensive rebounds, hustle play.
"I said you're going to get your 20 points but you're going to get it out of the game not going out and finding it. He was great, he understood that and his approach in the second half was outstanding.
"He was disruptive offensively, got his hands on a lot of things, was a killer on the glass. He was a bright spot."
With so many players out there was an opportunity for the experienced Griffin, who has found himself out of the Nets' rotation.
"Blake's played great, I think I've said to him there's always something around the corner in this league," Nash said.
"He was out the rotation for a while but we knew something would happen and he'd get his opportunity again. He's a pro and worked his butt off, stayed in shape, found good rhythm, and he's playing good basketball.
"Unfortunately he took a little knock on the knee tonight and we couldn't get the game but his effort was outstanding."