Tonight will be a night that the Brooklyn Nets will want to forget — and soon.
Entering the night after two consecutive wins, the Nets did not look like a team wanting to extend the streak. Behind poor shooting, ill-advised passes, lazy defense, and no ball movement, the Nets got blown out by a Washington Wizards team that entered the night with just seven road wins.
After opening the game with a 10-0 run, Brooklyn’s defense looked to be as stingy as they were in Monday night’s 101-85 victory over the Spurs. But as the opening half progressed, the Nets’ defense became worse and worse.
Down 68-60 at the half, the Nets couldn’t stop Thomas Byrant. The ex-Laker had five (!) And-1s in the first half. Unfortunately, stopping fast-paced teams has been one of the Nets’ greatest weaknesses this season and head coach Scott Brooks took advantage of that early. With Brooklyn unable to get into their zone, the Nets constantly found themselves playing fastbreak defense or giving up uncontested shots. Luckily for Brooklyn, Washington hit on only 5 of their 21 three-point attempts.
Despite the Nets’ defensive woes, the offense came to play in the first half — specifically D’Angelo Russell. His 23 points in the first half prevented the game from getting out of hand.
Brooklyn opened the third quarter as sloppy and lethargic as they’ve played all season long. Falling behind by as many as 28 points, the Nets’ troubles on defense worsened. The Wizards had their way against a porous defense. On the offensive end, Brooklyn couldn’t even get shot attempts due to their amount obscene amount of turnovers. Head coach Kenny Atkinson decided that it was time for a personnel change: Enter Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Jared Dudley.
After receiving DNP-CDs in back-to-back games, Hollis-Jefferson’s eagerness to get back on the court was on full display — in addition to his lack of control. Dudley — who has yet to re-enter the rotation since returning from his hamstring injury — showed that the rust still needs to be shaken off.
But tonight, there was nothing Atkinson could do to save the Nets. The Wizards played an excellent game, especially Bradley Beal — who had 29 points.
In Brooklyn’s final game in February, they shot 8-for-35 from deep and committed 16 turnovers, they also lost the rebound game by 16 boards.
Outscoring the Nets 33-19 in the third, the Wizards never looked back. Despite winning by just nine, Washington played a much more dominant game than what the score indicates. With a loss tonight, the Nets fell to 2-2 against the Wizards.
The loss to the Wizards also snapped the Nets’ streak of 20 consecutive wins when leading by ten or more points.
Still holding down the sixth seed in the East, the Nets face the Hornets Friday in a rematch of Saturday night’s thriller. A win against Charlotte would go a long way for Brooklyn in solidifying their current seed.
D’Angelo Russell Point Guard
28 PTS, 9-16 FG, 1-5 3PT, 9-10 FT, 3 REB, 7 AST, 1 STL, 5 TO, 28 MIN
Where would the Nets be without D’Angelo Russell?
Russell followed his 23-point first half with a goose egg in the third quarter as the Nets completely fell apart. He would go on to score just five more points.
Aside from his five turnovers, Russell was the lone bright spot for the Nets.
Caris LeVert Shooting Guard
0 PTS, 0-5 FG, 0-3 3PT, 2 REB, 2 TO, 20 MIN
Caris LeVert turned in his best performance of the season in Monday night’s victory over the Spurs.
Unfortunately, LeVert failed to build on his strong performance, scoring zero points.
We have seen flashes his brilliance over the past two weeks, but LeVert is still trying to find his old self.
Joe Harris Shooting Guard
6 PTS, 2-7 FG, 2-5 3PT, 3 REB, 2 AST, 3 TO, 25 MIN
Joe Harris played one of his worst games of the season tonight.
Aside from his two threes, Harris struggled to get anything going on offense. He made several errant passes and his cuts to the basket were either timed poorly or ill-advised.
Harris will have a chance to bounce back Friday night against the Hornets — a team he had 19 points against on Saturday.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Power Forward
8 PTS, 2-5 FG, 4-6 FT, 4 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 2 TO, 15 MIN
After being held out the last two games, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson failed to give head coach Kenny Atkinson any reason to re-enter him into the rotation in the future.
RHJ needs to slow down and relax on the court. Tonight, he chucked up ill-advised shots from the paint and played like he had no control over himself.
For RHJ to be effective, he must stay near the paint and get his teammates shots.
Jarrett Allen Center
12 PTS, 6-9 FG, 0-1 3PT, 0-1 FT, 6 REB, 1 STL, 3 BLK, 22 MIN
After taking advantage of Bobby Portis early in the first quarter, the Fro found little success in the opening half.
In the second half, Allen protected the rim as best he could given the many fast break opportunities for the Wizards.
His 12 points, per usual, flew under the radar for the Nets.