Sixers 106, Nets 97: The Difference
Spencer Hawes had a career night and I hate it. (AP)
To recap this annoyingly bad 106-97 Brooklyn Nets loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, I'm going "The Difference" style: one bullet point for each point difference in the margin:
Brooklyn Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo was asked after the game why Gerald Wallace sat the entire fourth quarter, even though Wallace is the best player the Nets have to guard 76ers forward Thaddeus Young, who always gives the Nets problems. Carlesimo responded by complimenting 76ers point guard Jrue Holiday, saying he was the one that was giving them trouble in the fourth and that he (Carlesimo) went with the players that he felt would give the Nets the best chance to win. Holiday did not score a field goal in the fourth quarter, while Young had 7 points and 4 rebounds in the full 12 minutes. Well then.
An addendum to that last bullet point: the Brooklyn Nets, who have struggled for years with stretch/athletic/hybrid 4's like Young (Young specifically was a name former coach Avery Johnson pointed out numerous times as a "Nets killer"), may have had their best chance stopping Young by playing Wallace at the 4. They didn't do that even for one second all game.
Congratulations to Deron Williams for scoring 10,000 points in his career, though I'm sure he would've liked to do it in a victory. Williams's quickness continues to impress: after averaging just 2.6 attempts per game from within 5 feet before the All-Star Break, Williams is up to 3.9 attempts per game, including eight Monday night. Williams's between-the-legs crossover stymied Jrue Holiday, and Williams's combination of brute point guard strength and control with the ball was, again, reminiscent of the point guard the Nets traded for two years ago. This doesn't appear to just be a "hot streak" anymore. (Side note: Williams's ridicushot of the night came late, absorbing a bump from Evan Turner as he streaked down the right side of the floor and flipped up a fallaway prayer floater from about 13 feet straight through the basket.)
The Brooklyn Nets' perplexing use of Brook Lopez continues. The offense went through Lopez early, and Lopez responded with jumper after jumper, even hitting two absurd Dirk-esque fadeaways en route to a 7-9, 14-point first quarter. But once the first quarter ended, Lopez disappeared from the offense almost completely, even with poor defender Spencer Hawes as his primary defender and slow-to-occur double-teams. Lopez relied too much on jumpers in the first quarter -- even if they worked -- but after that first quarter, Reggie Evans had more field goal attempts (7) than Lopez (4). That's not a formula for success against anyone.
Putting aside Lopez's confusing offense, his on-ball defense was atrocious tonight; the Jrue Holiday-Spencer Hawes pick-and-roll left him completely unsure, and Hawes took Lopez off the dribble in the post towards the rim on numerous occasions. Spencer Hawes is not an effective offensive player, and to watch him score -- and rebound -- constantly with Lopez in the game was disturbing to watch.
Joe Johnson had the least noticeable 20 points on 8-11 shooting I've ever seen. Yes, he hit some big shots down the stretch in the fourth quarter to keep the game close, and a one-foot fadeaway in the third quarter that arced as high as any in-paint shot ever, but he never seemed to be a major factor.
I was impressed with Mirza Teletovic's physicality defending, but he's also not talented enough defensively to hang down low with longer players like (gag) Spencer Hawes. Offensively, I liked his decision-making, and a couple of fancy passes got the Nets open looks. But at some point a three-point shooter has to improve his shooting, no?
Carlesimo said before the game that MarShon Brooks would likely see more playing time than the 3:37 he enjoyed in garbage time against the Atlanta Hawks Saturday night. He played 2:23 Monday night.
The Brooklyn Nets lost this game fair and square, but for whatever it's worth: the 76ers did hit a surprising amount of unexpected midrange, long-range, and fallaway shots. The Sixers shot 14-26 from within five feet -- a below-average number and percentage of shots -- but hit a scorching 18-35 from the midrange area, well above their season average. Some of those shots were uncontested, but some seemed just plain lucky.