The Nets-Sixers showdown offered fans three specific opportunities, no matter the end result.
1. The Sixers defeated them on December 18th thanks to some late-game heroics to Joel Embiid — could they avenge their cellar-dweller loss?
2. Should the Nets lose again, at least their disappointment would be done and dusted before the New York Giants’ 4:30PM playoff game against the Green Bay Packers.
3. A matinee showcase for Caris LeVert, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, Isaiah Whitehead, Nerlens Noel, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson? That alone is worth the pilgrimage to Barclays Center and the attendance today showed it.
Energized by the early start — or the thought of Eli Manning in the fourth quarter of a playoff game — the Nets played a solid first quarter, jumped out to a decent lead through Brook Lopez and Justin Hamilton, the latter looking stronger each game after getting a new prescription for his contacts.
The improved effort from the now fully-guaranteed Spencer Dinwiddie, the rapidly evolving Caris LeVert, and some frisky minutes from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson buoyed the Nets as Dario Saric exploded for 12 first half points of his own. Although Lopez (18 points) and Bogdanovic came on strong for the Nets towards the end of the second quarter, it was a bench that scored 25 first-half points that helped the Nets find much of their success.
12 early turnovers (5 from Whitehead, 3 from Sean Kilpatrick) allowed the 76ers to hang around for much of the half, but a late 9-0 run spurned on by Whitehead’s huge block and a Lopez three-pointer pushed the Nets’ lead to 57-46 at the break.
However, if you thought the Sunday-afternoon Nets wouldn’t be prone to #3rdQuarterNets, well, unfortunately, you’d have been wrong and 3 quick turnovers, a Lopez airball, and a 13-0 run from the 76ers would put them down 59-57. Following yet another turnover-prone frenzy, a Nik Stauskas-surging Sixers outscored the Nets 32-16 in the quarter, effectively turning an 11-point lead into a 5-point deficit.
With 5 minutes to go in the game, the Nets found themselves down just 89-87 thanks to an all-important 8 points from Kilpatrick, but the turnover troubles continued to grow. 22 turnovers! Twenty! Veintidos! The only Nets players to not record a turnover were Justin Hamilton and Trevor Booker, who left the game (but would eventually return) shortly after halftime with a left hip contusion.
Good grief, Charlie Brown.
In the end, horrible shot selection, careless ball handling, and a paltry 2 points from Lopez in the final frame doomed the Nets to a second-straight loss to Philadelphia and sixth-straight overall.
Inadequacy, something that nobody does quite as well as the Nets.
Isaiah Whitehead Point Guard
5 PTS, 2-6 FG, 3 REB, 3 AST, 2 BLK, 6 TOV
What a block!
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 8, 2017
But 6 turnovers from Isaiah Whitehead is… not great. If he’s going to be a point guard for the Nets, that number has to go down — but he must do a better job of just managing the game. Once that happens, we’ll start seeing what this youngster can really do.
Bojan Bogdanovic Shooting Guard
12 PTS, 5-14 FG, 8 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 2 TOV
The Nets went up by 11 when Bogdanovic dropped 9 in the first half; fell behind by even more when he scored just 3 points in the second half.
Of note, however, he did lead the Nets in rebounding.
Brook Lopez Center
26 PTS, 8-16 FG, 2 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 2 TOV
If Joel Embiid roasted Brook Lopez in their previous meeting, it was the veteran that got his revenge this afternoon. Embiid was in foul trouble all game and was held to just 20 points compared to Lopez’s 26. Perhaps a bit hurt by the rookie’s prowess in the former matchup, Lopez took him to the trenches and then out to the arc on occasion, a bit of a baptism for Embiid at times.
And, yet, once again, Lopez scored just 2 points in the fourth quarter and the Nets were eventually outpaced for good. The more things change, the more things stay the same.
Justin Hamilton Center
16 PTS, 6-11 FG, 5 REB, 2 BLK
New Year, New Contacts!
It looks like changing those contacts have made a world of difference for the backup center and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Spencer Dinwiddie Point Guard
9 PTS, 3-5 FG, 3 REB, 3 AST, 2 BLK, 1 TOV
Welcome to the team! As always your first grade is an honorary A+!
(Either way, this was a much-improved effort for Dinwiddie.)
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Small Forward
7 PTS, 3-5 FG, 4 REB, 1 AST, 2 STL, 0 BLK
After this game, Hollis Jefferson will have league's worst FG% in the restricted area w/ minimum of 100 FGA.
He's now 46-for-101 (45.5%).
— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) January 8, 2017
Sean Kilpatrick Shooting Guard
10 PTS, 4-9 FG, 3 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 5 TOV
What in the world is wrong with Sean Kilpatrick?
^ is what I had written here for the first three quarters of this afternoon’s game — all before the streaky shooter came alive. You can see how much better the Nets look when Kilpatrick is helping to stretch the floor.
The Nets badly need Kilpatrick to chip in with his usual contributions — his 8-point quarter was a nice step in that direction.
The Brooklyn Nets
Nope, try again next time.