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Here’s a roundup of last night’s Nets festivities.
What happened: In their last home game of the regular season, the Brooklyn Nets dozed their way to a 109-98 loss to the New York Knicks that was worse than the score.
Where they stand: With the loss, the Nets are still in play for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They’d have to lose Wednesday to the Cleveland Cavaliers AND the Washington Wizards would have to beat the Boston Celtics for them to fall to the sixth seed. Unlikely, but possible.
If the Nets win Wednesday, they’re guaranteed the fifth seed either way, and they won’t know who they play until the completion of tomorrow’s Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls games. The Raptors and Bulls have identical 48-33 records, and the Raptors hold the tiebreaker should both teams win or lose Wednesday night.
“Fifth, sixth, same thing,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said about the importance of seeding. “You know, we’re going to play Toronto or Chicago. You play 82 games to get a seed and we’ll be fifth or sixth.”
That Was… Brutal. The Knicks went to the free throw line a season-high 40 times, shot 11-21 from three-point range, built a 21-point lead in the third quarter, and never relinquished control in the second half.
For a game that had little impact in the standings, both came out with intensity: Paul Pierce broke Amar’e Stoudemire off the dribble for a reverse dunk, Tyson Chandler roared back with a slam, and it looked like we’d be in for a nice, classic Nets-Knicks game. Then the Knicks started taking over with their youngest players and the Nets, perhaps not accustomed to an 8 P.M. start time, fell asleep.
The Nets played like they didn’t care about the outcome, and considering the circumstances, they didn’t need to.
Game Grades: Read ‘em here.
Nets injured center Brook Lopez, fitted with a walking boot before the game, warmed up by shooting a few jumpers while wearing the boot. One good sign: the boot was on his left foot, where he had ankle surgery in April, but not on his right foot, where the original season-ending injury occurred in the fifth metatarsal.
So the injury that really hurt him is doing better, he’s just recovering from the OTHER injury on the OTHER foot!
(Actually, when I say it out loud, it doesn’t sound like such great news after all.)
Fearza^2: The Nets were without Mirza Teletovic, whose wife gave birth to twins Tuesday afternoon. He won’t be with the team again until the playoffs.
Deron Williams, Hurting: Williams dove for a loose ball in the second quarter and landed awkwardly on his right hip, playing with a bit of a limp for the rest of his time on the court.
Williams left the game without speaking to reporters.
Andrei Kirilenko Is A Treasure:
Sure, Mason Plumlee was the one that threw this dunk down, but it was all created by a beautiful Andrei Kirilenko feed. 81 games in (well, 44 for Kirilenko), I’m still amazed by the angles he sees and how he can create plays on both ends of the floor.
My Thoughts At The Half: This game matters so little.
All I Need Is One Seat: Rapper Nas, who had a beef with Jay-Z in the early 2000s and now is signed to Jay-Z’s Def Jam label, sat courtside in Jay-Z’s seats for the game. Nas called himself a “New York Knicks loyalist” on the song “Where’s The Love” on the album Life Is Good, so my guess is he was there to root for the Knicks.
Also In Attendance: Former Giants great Michael Strahan, actor and Brooklyn native Michael K. Williams, former Nets center Jayson Williams, free agent running back Chris Johnson.
Jackie Robinson Day: Before the game, the Nets celebrated Jackie Robinson Day, marking 67 years since Jackie Robinson first broke Brooklyn’s color barrier in 1947. The crowd erupted. Very cool moment.
Well, Iman Shumpert Did This:
This dunk, in garbage time off an Andray Blatche turnover, was straight out of NBA 2K.
Jason Kidd, on if there’s any concern about how the Nets have played lately: “No."
— devin kharpertian (@uuords) April 16, 2014
Kidd, unusually short in his answer, had to be pressed before following up. “It happens. There are 81 games. Sometimes you play well, sometimes you don’t.”
Ushered In: Barclays Center usher Bryan Bautista kicked off the festivities by singing the national anthem. After a couple of nervous smiles, Bautista nailed it. One of the best this year. Afterwards? He went back to work.
Next up: The Nets play their season finale tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Cleveland.