BROOKLYN, N.Y. — In a game where only Deron Williams made a significant positive impact, it only made sense that the two crucial plays of the game came at his hands — the first a dubious no-call that saw Williams crashing to the floor after contact with Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen, and the second a careless turnover that all but sealed the final outcome in favor of Memphis, and the 76-72 final score in favor of the visitors at Barclays Center AKA The Black House just about says it all.
With Nets General Manager Billy King by their side to set the precedent, Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche left the locker room after the loss without speaking to reporters, a loose phrase about not getting fined for referee complaints floated as the reason. Shortly after Lopez and Blatche left, Gerald Wallace and the rest of the team followed suit; by the time the dust settled, only Reggie Evans and Deron Williams spoke with media after the game.
Professionalism off the court aside, more concerning was the team’s lack of professional ability on it. The Memphis Grizzlies outslogged the Brooklyn Nets in a quintessential “first to 75 wins” terrordome, and outside of a scintillating performance by Williams (the last turnover notwithstanding), there wasn’t much positive to write home about: outside of Williams, the team as a whole shot 32.3% from the field, scored 45 points on 62 field goal attempts, and hit just three of 10 free throws in a game they lost by four points. Without Joe Johnson, the non-Williams starters combined to score just 22 points — half from Joe Johnson replacement C.J. Watson, nine on 3-10 shooting from All-Star center Brook Lopez, and none from small forward Gerald Wallace, who finished 0-6 from the field in 16 ineffective minutes — and the bench was hardly an improvement.
The Nets seemed to fluctuate effortlessly between one or two beautiful plays — plays in which ball movement did not come at a premium, the entire floor was utilized for spacing, and the team worked in harmony to swing for an open shot — and excruciating stretches showcasing an offensive madness bordering on basketball solipsism, where the man with the ball seems to only believe that he exists, and the world around him can’t nor won’t dissuade his thought process. On multiple occasions, the entire Nets offense would bunch up on one side of the floor, without direction or plan, and inevitably a bad shot late in the clock would ensue. It was gut-wrenching, it was difficult to watch, it was predictable, it was stasis… It was, Gerald Wallace might have said, typical Nets basketball.