How inadvertently funny is it that after the game ended last night and the YES broadcast team announced that the Nets 116-83 teeth-kicking they received by the Utah Jazz was actually their worst loss of the season?
Really? Not their December 18 loss to the Toronto Raptors (just 23 points), or their January 6 loss to Atlanta (30 points), or their January 13 loss to the Boston Celtics (24 points)? Maybe, those games just felt worse while I was watching them because all of those teams jumped out on the Nets so early, it looked like they could win by 50-60 points if they played all out for the full four quarters. The Jazz just systematically destroyed the Nets for all four quarters, never backing away from their game plan of embarrassment. Good for them. If the Nets were going to keep letting them get points, they should take them.
As it stands, and I hesitate to say it, but THIS might finally be rock bottom for the 2009-10 Nets. Because if it gets any worse that it's been the past two games against Utah and the Golden State Warriors, the league should really consider contracting the organization, throwing Bruce Ratner in jail for fraud and blacklisting Rod Thorn and Kiki Vandeweghe from ever having a role with an NBA roster again. Because while the Nets may technically be an NBA team, they've lost their last two games by a combined 65 points, allowing 113.5 points and only scoring 81. If there really is a further low-point in what I'm assuming is going to be the worst NBA season of all-time, then David Stern might just has to step in and cancel the rest of the Nets season, so that paying NBA fans (and those of us who are compelled to blog about this team ) aren't forced to watch a team that looks like there's two million things they'd rather be doing than playing an organized game of basketball. Maybe if the Nets season gets cancelled, they can develop a mid-season replacement reality show on YES where Brook Lopez dresses up as one of those blue guys in Avatar and parades around a New Jersey suburbs. Or maybe there's some truth to the rumor that Chris Douglas-Roberts is going to be a patient in the upcoming season of HBO's therapy show, "In Treatment."
As for last night's game, what kind of analysis can I really provide? In the first, Utah exploded for a 21-1 run and ended up shooting 86 percent for the quarter. They shot 61 percent for the entire game. They were able to score 70 points in the paint (versus 34 for the Nets). They outscored the Nets 27-5 on the fast break. Utah did all this by essentially running some variation of the same play - a curl set on offense where a player curls around a screen and towards the rim (I'm sure Sebastian can do a better job verbally and visually than I did). The Nets, who have an assortment of big men (Brook Lopez included), who are just terrible help defenders, couldn't do anything of note in the interior defensively, just gave up points at the rim again and again.
What is most concerning now is the Nets have become such a pathetic mess since Kiki Vandeweghe took over, that even the "hope" of improving through the rich crop of free agents this summer seems like a long shot. We've already heard Chris Bosh express zero interest in coming here. Here's Carlos Boozer last night, a guy who by most reports, could have been a Net before the season started via trade: "I think anybody that wants to win, it would be tough to walk into a situation like that," Boozer said.
Fans who have legitimate hope for the direction of this franchise, say aye? Mikhail Prokhorov is reportedly very close to becoming owner of the Nets, but even Russia's richest man won't make a difference if he doesn't start looking to change the culture of this organization, IMMEDIATELY. Not once the season ends, not after the Nets get burned this summer and can't sign any free agents. If the Nets want to have anyone waiting for them in Brooklyn in two years, Prokhorov has to take dramatic steps to show the players he wants to keep, his fans, and most importantly the rest of the NBA, that the Nets are serious about becoming winners again, not sitting on their hands, and hoping for the best.
I guess I can give you a few bullet points after the jump.
- Yi was a lot more efficient offensively last night, scoring 16 points on 6-12 shooting. What was most surprising was how effective he was from the outside, going 4-5 from beyond 20-feet, including 1-1 from three. Yi has looked so determined in recent games to try and take the ball to the rim, that he's forgetting that he does have some shooting abilities as well, and when he's hitting his outside jumpers, it should, theoretically, provide space on the floor to open up other options for the Nets.
- Early in the game, I was just marveling at how much of a better passer Brook Lopez was becoming out of the post, but at the 7:48 mark in the first, it looked like the Jazz had Brook's post play well scouted. Deron Williams came over on Brook's blind side for the double as Lopez was backing in, and you could see it started Brook, who then maybe a bad pass that was intercepted easily by Andrei Kirilenko for a fast break dunk.
- Terrence Williams had a solid game last night with 13 points on 50 percent shooting, including a three-pointer as time expired in the third. He still makes some wacky decisions while passing the ball, but the again, he would probably look like an unselfish superstar if the Nets could play offense with any kind of efficiency. For example, TWill found Jarvis Hayes under the rim with a pretty pass in the second, but Jarvis botched the layup.
- Early in third quarter, there was one play where Chris Douglas-Roberts was away from the ball and he literally just walked from the right corner out to the top of the key until the play ended. He made no attempt to come to the ball. He made no attempt to box out his guy. He walked. I'm not going to pretend I know what's going on in his head and speculate that he was so disgusted by not having his number called for the play that he decided to take a set off. However, I will just repeat what I saw, because I very rarely see NBA players who constantly tweet and talk about how hard they work, and how all of their critics are haters, just walk around during a play. And that my friends, is what I mean when I talk about the "culture" of this organization right now.