Joe Johnson

Joe Johnson was the Nets' only starter in uniform Saturday, leaning on the remnants of the roster to assist. (AP)

LOS ANGELES, C.A. -— No player, coach, or GM will ever tell you openly that a team's priorities lie anywhere other than squarely on winning a game on any given night. Saturday the Brooklyn Nets tiptoed carefully along that line, bolstering the suspicion that they're playing the long game: less concerned with nightly results and fixated instead on the holistic process.

Ask any of the Nets about their 110-103 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers, and he'll stress that this was a process loss, with the obligatory lip service that a win is a win and a loss yields nothing.
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Today's installment of Better Know An Opponent focuses on the Los Angeles Clippers. Let's take a look.... MORE →

 

Gerald Wallace, Matt Barnes

Gerald Wallace had a big 3rd quarter, but it wasn't enough. (AP)

When the then-New Jersey Nets traded for Deron Williams, General Manager Billy King repeatedly said that he felt Deron Williams was the league's best point guard. Though the past two seasons may have changed his mind, last night was a stark reminder: Chris Paul is the league's best point guard, and everyone else is racing for second.

Fueled by Paul, who finished with 29 points -- 17 in the fourth quarter, including 9-9 from the free throw line -- and 11 assists, the Los Angeles Clippers hung around for three quarters before blowing it up in the fourth, turning a 75-70 deficit after three quarters into a 101-95 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

"We put ourselves in a position to win the game, and they did a much better job closing it out then we did," Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo told reporters after the game. "It's another day. Overall we played a really good game… there were a lot of good things. we got a big lift from the (second) team in the first half, in the second half, we didn't get that same lift."

The Nets played the Clippers relatively evenly in the first few 45 minutes. Reggie Evans kept superathlete Blake Griffin in check, Deron Williams & Joe Johnson had effective moments, Brook Lopez scored inside and out, including a beautiful out-of-bounds play that tied the game at 90 with 2:32 left.

That's when all hell broke loose.

A Chris Paul long two-pointer. A long, missed three-pointer by Deron Williams. A careless, lackadaisical pass from Deron Williams that Jamal Crawford read, picked, and drove to the other end for a dunk. A fifty-second possession for Los Angeles that changed the complexion of the game, even though they didn't score. An unbelievable shot from Paul in which he switched hands in mid-air -- twice -- and still scored through contact, drawing a foul and putting the Clippers up five with just 22 seconds left. Another missed isolation three from Johnson, and that was that.

Blake Griffin, Brook LopezI know it only means so much, but this is an eight-game road trip, and the Nets weren't going 8-0 on it. Outside of the Nuggets, the Clippers posed the biggest threat to the Nets on this road trip, and the Nets did play a solid game given the competition. Could they have won? Absolutely. But the Clippers are a better team, and Brooklyn's suffered far worse losses this season.

Add in that Joe Johnson suffered a quad contusion in the third quarter, causing him to miss minutes in the fourth, and the loss -- though avoidable -- could have been worse. Carlesimo insinuated after the game that Johnson was only playing so that his quad wouldn't tighten up. Johnson is questionable for tomorrow.

The Clippers didn't reinvent the wheel in the game-deciding fourth quarter, they merely rolled with what they had: Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan, with two players spacing the floor. On nearly every crunch time possession, the Clippers sent one of either Griffin or Jordan to set a high screen for Paul, and let Paul do the rest -- whether that be look to score, look to lob, or look to dish to an open shooter. That's multiple high-octane weapons at once. They're the super-weapon Betty White made out of nine tools in Community. The Nets in the fourth quarter were Jeff Winger. Joe Johnson was wounded respect.

Put it this way: 47 wins means 35 losses. This was one of them. Better it comes against a team as good as the Clippers. This was indicative of where these two teams are right now. If the Nets are healthy tomorrow and lose a bad one to the Phoenix Suns, I'll be more worried.

 

Tonight: The 40-28 playoff-bound Brooklyn Nets are on game three of their eight-game Circus Trip, taking on their hardest opponent thus far on the trip: the 47-22 Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers most recently beat the Philadelphia 76ers 101-72, and are led by Chris Paul, who currently ranks third in the league in PER. (Brook Lopez ranks fourth.) The Nets are 2-0 on their trip after taking down the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks.

The BK Game Streak: Play "The BK Game Streak," where you can build a streak of wins along the betting line over the course of the season. Three prizes will be awarded at the end of the year, with first prize a $200 Amazon Gift Card. Log in with Facebook to get started, vote in the box above, and good luck!

Watch & Listen: Tonight's game is broadcast on YES Network. Chris Carrino and Mike Fratello are on the call. The game is also broadcast on ESPN. The game is radio simulcast on WFAN, and in Spanish on WADO.

More on tonight's game, including injuries and stats, after the jump... MORE →

 

Blake Griffin, Kris Humphries

I got nothing. Caption this for me. (AP)

After two days off to travel on this Circus Trip -- and the circus is having its own problems back home -- the 40-28 Brooklyn Nets are in Los Angeles, taking on the only team in Los Angeles anyone is scared of, the 47-22 Los Angeles Clippers. To give you an idea of each conference's strength, the Clippers are 6.5 games ahead of the Nets and have the same 4th seed.

This is only the second time the Nets have seen the Clippers this year, beating them in their November matchup 86-76 behind a stellar defensive effort from Reggie Evans. If you're interested in watching me ramble about how that matchup went, the good folks over at ClipperBlog had me on breaking that game down immediately after on their live Clippers postgame show, ClipperBlog Live.

Speaking of ClipperBlog, the best Los Angeles Clippers blog around, I have the pleasure of asking Clippers maven and ClipperBlog writer/senior contributor Fred Katz three questions about tonight's matchup. ClipperBlog also asked me to answer three questions about tonight's game, which you can see here. (Note: I am not bullish on Gerald Wallace.)

As you'll see, the first thing I ask has to do with the CP3-D-Will matchup, the two players competing in The BK Game Streak tonight. Get to pickin'.

Devin: Chris Paul + Deron Williams is always a fun head-to-head. How do you see Paul approaching the matchup?

Fred:... MORE →

 

Chris Paul, Deron Williams

Chris Paul & Deron Williams go way back. (AP)

For Game 3 of the Circus Trip, The Brooklyn Nets take on the Los Angeles Clippers for the second and final time this season, and even though it's a 10:30 P.M. EST start (damnit, West Coast), there's a lot of reasons to stay up to watch this one. Namely, since these two teams likely won't meet in the NBA Finals (sorry, guys), it's our last chance of the season to watch my favorite point guard matchup: the Nets' Deron Williams and the Clippers' Chris Paul.... MORE →

 

The Brooklyn Nets take on the Los Angeles Clippers tonight in a late game in Los Angeles, and you know what that means... It's time for "The BK Game Streak," where you can build a streak predicting how well the Nets will do in each game for a chance to win a $200 Amazon Gift Card!

The game is as simple as it sounds:

1. The contest relies on a standard betting line for each game. (Note: you must be logged into Facebook to play.) To make your prediction, select YES or NO to agree or disagree. For today's streak, we're doing something a little different: while in each past game the line was about team performance, tonight's is about the point guard matchup between the Nets' Deron Williams and the Clippers' Chris Paul. The line is "Deron Williams will have more points + assists than Chris Paul." If you think Deron's points plus assists will equal more than CP3's, select "YES." If you think Chris Paul will have more points plus assists, select "NO."

For the record: Chris Paul is averaging 26.6 points+assists per game this season. Deron Williams is averaging 26.0 points+assists per game this season. BUT: Since the All-Star break, Williams is averaging 31.5 points+assists per game, while Paul is averaging 26.1 points+assists in the same time.

2. String together wins and try to get the longest streak of correct predictions before the end of the NBA regular season. Follow game results on the leaderboard on the right sidebar.

At the end of the season, we'll award three prizes to the players with the best three streaks: The Gold Net Trophy (longest streak) and a $200 Amazon Gift Card will be awarded to first place, the Silver Net Trophy (second-longest streak) and a $50 Amazon Gift Card to second place, and the Bronze Net Trophy (third-longest streak) $25 Amazon Gift Card and a Bronze Net Trophy to third place.

Read more rules for the contest here.

Good luck!

 

Brook Lopez, Festus Ezeli, Brooklyn Nets

(AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Chat it up in tonight's game thread!

The Brooklyn Nets (6-4) face the Los Angeles Clippers (8-3) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn tonight. Here's some nuggets of info to help you navigate.

Remember: you can grade the players at any time.
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Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

CP3 & Blake come to town to take on D-Will & the Brooklyn Nets tonight. (AP/Mark J. Terrill)

Tonight, the 8-3 Los Angeles Clippers come to Brooklyn to take on the 6-4 Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. The Nets are coming back from a 1-2 west coast trip. There's more than enough storylines to go around for this game: Chris Paul vs. Deron Williams in the battle of the NBA's best point guards in 2010 (sorry D-Will), Blake Griffin and Kris Humphries always go at each other, Brook Lopez & DeAndre Jordan are two opposite forces at center... It figures as a really interesting, good game.

Joining me to talk about tonight's matchup is Charlie Widdoes, Clippers expert, Brooklyn resident, and blogger for the incomparable ESPN TrueHoop Los Angeles Clippers blog Clipperblog. As usual, I'll ask Charlie three questions burning on my mind about his Clippers franchise, and in turn Charlie gets answers to three of his own questions about the Brooklyn Nets.

Onward!

Charlie on the Los Angeles Clippers

 
Devin: The Clippers have looked like one of the best teams in the NBA thus far. Has this team played at, above, or below your expectations?... MORE →