Nets loss a sign of systemic issues

James Harden, Deron Williams

Williams reacts to his ejection. (AP)

For the second straight away game, the Brooklyn Nets faced a Western Conference opponent in said Western Conference opponent’s house, and for the second straight away game, the Brooklyn Nets left the court an embarrassed loser, this time the recipient of a 119-106 blowout at the hands of the Houston Rockets in Houston. The Rockets kept a respectable distance between themselves and Brooklyn throughout, building a 13-point lead at the half and not allowing the Nets within eight for the remainder of the game. The Nets were beat soundly — Chandler Parsons flirted with a triple-double, James Harden led all scorers with 29 points, and Omer Asik lazed up a 20-16. Deron Williams led the Brooklyn Nets with 27 points (20 in the first quarter) and 11 assists, but his frustration boiled over in the final minute, leading to an ejection.

For the second straight game, their opponent exploited Brooklyn’s major weaknesses on the way to victory. For all their offensive talents, Deron Williams & Joe Johnson comprise a slow-by-NBA-standards backcourt that can get easily beaten up the floor in transition and in the lane in the half-court by explosive guards. James Harden is a unique example of this — he can just hit an explosive gear that few other players have — but he’s not the first guard to out-pace Johnson, Williams, and Keith Bogans this season. Mike Conley, Tony Allen, and Rudy Gay had their fun Friday night, and in turn, Harden, Jeremy Lin, and Carlos Delfino, and Chandler Parsons all took their turns confounding a Brooklyn defense that didn’t need much help getting confounded.

Similarly troublesome and glaring is the athletically stunted frontcourt. Reggie Evans is a tireless defender and a smart rotator, but he’s a liability at best on the offensive end and often gets turned back near the basket. He can chase down basketballs as they come off the rim, but can’t deposit them back with any sort of regularity. He’s not a starter. Mirza Teletovic had one of his more encouraging games, but he’s not an answer, and I’m not sure anyone noticed Kris Humphries on the floor tonight. Outside of Lopez, the Nets don’t have anyone long enough to contest shots near the rim, and Lopez is hardly a leaper.

Lopez’s frustration on the defensive end was evident tonight, and it wasn’t with his own performance. Lopez’s job when guards get beat off the dribble is to show hard and double-team, hoping to force the ballhandler away from the paint and into the corners. When Lopez leaves his man, the weak-side help defender should then drop down and cover Lopez’s man — usually Omer Asik — cutting off that easy lane to the basket. That second line of defense rarely came to pass against Houston, and Omer Asik became the second straight center to put up 20 points on the Brooklyn Nets, with every attempt of his coming in the restricted area.

Poor perimeter defense and odd shot selection in key moments. A tendency to fall back on isolations in tight moments. A lack of awareness, or rotation, or some combination of both on the fifth, sixth, seventh passes in an opponent’s set. These are issues that have hampered the Brooklyn Nets to some degree all season, and when the team’s winning, they’re easier to deal with. But against the most talented teams in the NBA, they beget losses. When the year progresses past the regular season, the schedule doesn’t get easier.

Game Grades


  1. For some reason these people are hypnotized by Evans. They think Humphries stinks, and thinks Evans is Lebron James. Humphries should be starting like he was at the start of the season. Also, for 10 mil a yr., Wallace needs to be scoring more than 9pts a game.

  2. Lots of trades? Wow, last week folks were preparing the parade down Flatbush. How fickle the masses are… Three games in four nights, I’m not terribly concerned. Even the mighty Clippers and Knicks are stinking it up now.

    In other news, with rondo now out for the season, might D Will replace him in Houston?

    1. the nets struggle with any team thats guards r fast pace and like to break out in transition and marshon brooks sits on the bench while jerry stackhousee and bogans plays and when there not hitting there corner threes there useless. Humphries should also start because he can score and run the floor. i cant watch opposing teams anymore just not guard evans because he isnt a threat which makes it tougher for everyone else

  3. I’ve just about had it with Evans in the starting lineup. The guy is a great hustle and rebounding player, but his liability as a scorer allows opposing defenses to continuously “pack in the lane”. The combination of Evans and Wallace is supposed to give the Nets a defensive and rebounding edge while sacrificing offense. Well, (as expected) they’re sacrificing offense with Evans’ inability to finish at the rim and Wallace’s inability to consistently knock down the open jumpers, but they’re also inexplicably getting pounded on the boards and allowing all kinds of points in the paint. How?

    When D-Will does a pick & roll with Evans, he is double-teamed 100% of the time because Evans doesn’t have the ability to make a 10-15 ft jumper, drive to the basket from that distance, or even finish at the rim consistently to deter the defense from double-teaming. When you combine this with the fact that the opposing defense can also cheat off rotations using Wallace’s defender, it means that the lane is full of ball hawks and people taking charges waiting for Lopez, JJ, or D-Will to make a move.

    The Nets absolutely, have to get Kris Humphries back in the starting lineup. Evans might be a smarter defender, but (physically) Humphries is a much more versatile and dynamic one. In addition, you don’t lose much (if anything) in the rebounding department, with Humphries over Evans. Where the Nets truly benefit is offensively; floor spacing and finishing is very important at the PF position for the Nets, since they don’t get much spacing or consistent scoring from Wallace at SF.

    In my opinion, the Nets should be running the following units; Humphries and Wallace starting at the forward spots, Evans coming in only when the Nets are running 3 guards together (such as D-Will/Watson, JJ/Brooks, and Bogans/Stackhouse). The other time Evans would be effective, is with Teletovic playing at SF. However, only when the opposing SF isn’t too much of a quickness mismatch for Teletovic. All these units will work with Evans, but having him out there with Wallace is detrimental to the team’s success.

  4. Hump should start. Evans gets exposed with too many minutes. You can’t have a great point guard on the floor with only 2 options to pass to (Lopez and Johnson). Humphries can finish at the riim and sink jumpers 12 feet-in. I admire Evans a ton and he certainly serves a purpose, just not 30 minutes per night. Teletovic should be eating into Bogans’ and Stack’s munutes. I would rather have Mirza in the corner waiting for a pass rather than those 2.