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Here's a roundup of last night's Nets festivities.
What happened: The Nets threw away what could've been a solid victory over the Washington Wizards, playing listless on both ends of the floor in the final six minutes. They turned a seven-point lead at the end of the third quarter into a seven-point loss, allowing 29 points in the fourth quarter and falling by a final score of 101-94.
Where they stand: The loss drops the Nets to the sixth seed in the playoff standings and 33-31 on the season, one game behind the Wizards for the fifth seed. They're four games behind the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors.
Game Grades: Read 'em here.
That Was... Arguably the worst six minutes and 22 seconds the Nets have played all season.
Sorry if you watched that. But it's there. A couple of shots were decent looks and you'd expect a couple to go down. But most of them were contested, none came straight off a pass from a teammate, most were pure isolations, and a couple were inexcusable looks.
So many questions in those last six minutes. Why did Andray Blatche stay in the entire fourth as Drew Gooden scored time and time again off basic screen plays? Why did Deron Williams come out for two and a half minutes in crunch time? Why did the Nets appear to have only one option in each offensive set?
John Wall going off is one thing. He's John Wall. (More on that later.) But the Nets didn't lose this game because John Wall had a great night. They lost because they couldn't defend as a cohesive unit in the fourth quarter, and couldn't rely on anyone to score but Marcus Thornton in a brief stretch.
CAPTION THIS WHISPER:
The KG Effect: After the game, Paul Pierce (shown on YES Network) eloquently noted that the Nets let the ball "stick" to one side in the fourth quarter, rather than swinging the offense from side to side and forcing the defense to shift and make decisions. When Kevin Garnett plays out of the high post, the ball moves from side to side more easily, and the Nets can get open shots as a result. Garnett's back spasms have kept him out since February 27th -- if the Nets had their way, it wouldn't be another game.
Weird Wins, Part I: The Nets are now 31-2 this season when leading after three quarters. Those two losses? Both to the Wizards.
Weird Wins, Part II: The Wizards, conversely, were 0-11 this season when trailing after 3 quarters... before Saturday night.
Goodensanity: Drew Gooden is on a ten-day contract with the Washington Wizards. Drew Gooden scored 21 points, more than any Brooklyn Nets player, and grabbed nine rebounds, more than any Brooklyn Nets player. In the fourth quarter, Gooden scored 11 points, more than any Brooklyn Nets player, and grabbed six rebounds, one fewer than the entire Brooklyn Nets team. Drew Gooden is on a ten-day contract with the Washington Wizards and has the beard of a Williamsburg barista.
Player of the Night - "You guys joke about me being old, but I'm still Drew Gooden." pic.twitter.com/htPKvLHLLE
— WizardsXTRA (@WizardsXTRA) March 16, 2014
Without Drew Gooden, the Wizards don't win this game. A game that apparently happened in 2009.
So close, Deron:
Williams almost put down his first dunk of the season, but things didn't go quite as planned. No snark -- love to see him explode up and try to put it down, and he had one of the team's better nights. But just a little too far out.
My Thoughts At The Half: This is shaping up to be a solid win against a solid team.
Mason Plumlee's development continues to surprise. When the team attended training camp at Duke, general manager Billy King casually noted that Plumlee would likely spend most of the season in the D-League with the team's affiliate Springfield Armor. But the 22nd overall pick has stuck in the NBA because of his rare combination of gifted athleticism and a willingness to accept his limitations. He runs and dunks and that's about it. The problems are there -- he struggles to ascertain rebounds and he can't score outside of the paint -- but there's time to develop some of those skills. He's got the energy.
Walled up: John Wall is so good. His ability to penetrate into the lane and get around nearly any defender is just incredible, and it was on full display Saturday night. He's long enough to drop in layups even when it doesn't seem like he's close enough to do so, and he's finally strong enough to handle significant contact after some questions about his frame early in his career. He's developing into an all-world point guard, one that, in an alternate universe, is a Brooklyn Nets guard.
Blatched: Andray Blatche said before Saturday night's game that his fiasco-filled time in Washington was fully behind him, but he played more like "Baltche" -- the infamous mis-stitched jersey Blatche -- than the Blatche the Nets have reinvented in Brooklyn. Blatche had a decent first half on offense, but couldn't hold his own on either end in crunch time as they flailed on both ends with him in during the final 4:50.
According to SportVU, Blatche had 12 chances at a rebound, and converted just four of those chances into actual rebounds. That's a terrible conversion rate for a seven-footer. To compare, Paul Pierce has converted 64.5 percent of his rebound chances this year.
At least they're not the 76ers: The Philadelphia 76ers lost their 20th straight game, falling to the Memphis Grizzlies 103-77 and to a record of 15-51 on the season. Then again, the 76ers do own their own first-round pick, the Pelicans' first-round pick (top-5 protected), and five second-round picks -- including Brooklyn's.
I do appreciate this:
Across the river: The New York Knicks blew out the league-worst Milwaukee Bucks, 115-94, on the same day they announced a "major press conference" scheduled for Tuesday to announce the acquisition of Phil Jackson.
Next up: The Nets have one day off to return home before taking on the 37-28 Phoenix Suns, who are somehow not in the playoffs in the strong Western Conference.