The old adage about NBA basketball is it's a game of runs. For the Nets last night, they got their one big run against the Milwaukee Bucks early - an 8-0 spurt in the game's first three minutes, featuring alley-oops, transition offense and solid jump shooting. The Nets then proceeded to put up one of their bigger stinkers of the year - and for a team that's now 3-31, that's saying something.
The complete and utter collapse on both ends of the floor in the Nets' loss to the Bucks started quietly enough. After falling behind early, the Bucks benched Andrew Bogut. Hakim Warrick and Brandon Jennings made a few buckets, while the Nets seemed to go cold. Yi Jianlian, who was one of the few bright spots for the Nets past the game's opening minutes, finishing with 22 points on 7-12 shooting, got into early foul trouble and Eduardo Najera made a surprise return to the rotation. I would call it a trade showcase, but I don't know who's going to want him after scoring 0 points on 0-4 shooting. Not to mention a boneheaded play to end the first half when he failed to even attempt a box out on Francisco Elson, who got the offensive rebound and was then fouled on the putback, to get his first two free throws of the season. Isn't Najera supposed to be one of those guys who does the "little things?"
What started out so promising turned into a very sloppy first quarter for the Nets as they finished with 10 turnovers, four in the closing two minutes. They went the final 4:10 without scoring a point and the Bucks continued to tack on points with layups and free throws.
In the second quarter, the Bucks bench took over. The shooting combination of Carlos Delfino (17 points, 7-11 shooting) and Luke Ridnour (11 points, 4-9 shooting) helped the Bucks push their lead into double-digits. Bogut then turned it on in the third quarter, scoring 8 points in the first three minutes, and finishing with 18 on 9-12 shooting. Still, the Bucks never had that big nail in the coffin-type quarter that usually puts a team away, so I kept thinking the Nets would be able to get back into this - they just needed to start getting some plays from Devin Harris and Brook Lopez. It never happened.
Lopez looked out of sorts all evening, which is no surprise, because he had trouble with Bogut and the Bucks when the two teams faced-off in November. While Bogut showed how a young center could overcome a rough start, Lopez only attempted 2 shots in the first half and six for the game, finishing with 11 points. He was able to get to the foul line six times in the first half, but that part of his game disappeared as well, as he only attempted two more FTs in the second half.
And what about Devin Harris? Was he even on the floor last night? Of course, I've been searching for the 2008-09 Devin Harris all season. He finished with 5 points on 0-4 shooting. Just doing a quick look on Basketball-Reference, it was Devin's first game wit 0 FGs in 30+ minutes since December 10, 2007, when he was with the Dallas Mavericks.
Regardless of how well Yi Jianlian is playing, the Nets were/are a team built around Lopez and Harris, the point guard and center combination that was supposed to make this team attractive to this summer's free agents despite the Nets overall team record. There's obviously still plenty of time for both to get on another roll this season, but when both are simultaneously out of sorts, the Nets are going to resemble what they were tonight - the worst team in the league, and perhaps one of the worst of all time.
- On a positive note, it was great to see Jarvis Hayes back on the floor tonight. He was totally solid drilling his first FG attempt, a 18-foot jumper from the right side, en route to a 3-5, 7 point night. He even was active on the glass, grabbing 6 rebounds. His presence on the Nets bench is important, as he was one of their most consistent contributors last season. With him and Dooling back in supporting roles, the Nets could possibly get into a groove, if the starters could ever gain some consistency.
- The Nets just had no interior defense, getting outscored on points in the paint 44-16. Also, for those keeping score, make this the 22nd consecutive game the Nets have been outrebounded, extending their own record.
- Like the Cleveland game, Chris Doulgas-Roberts started hot with 10 points on 5-6 shooting, but he didn't make another field goal the rest of the game, and he only got two more attempts in the second half, finishing with 12 points. He seemed to bang his ankle again in the second quarter, but returned later in the quarter.
- I alluded to it earlier, but there was no other explanation for Eduardo Najera being on the floor tonight unless the Nets plan on shipping him out in the near, near future. They guy just looked terrible, but the Nets seemed determined to prove he was healthy enough to play. I guess he was healthy, but he wasn't good. What about playing youth Kiki?
- I'm starting to wonder if Courtney Lee is ever going to get it together from a consistency standpoint this season. I've accepted the fact that he's not this hidden all-star as some were trying to make him out to be after he was acquired in the Vince Carter trade, but I've been adamant in trying to compare him to Kerry Kittles - a guy who, when hot, could take over a game offensively, but was best suited as a 13-15 points per game player with solid defense. Last night, Lee looked good early, hitting a few jumpers, including one with the shot clock expiring in the first quarter, but he was a mess afterwards, missing his next 9 shots, and finishing 3-12.
- I know Kiki Vandeweghe is experimenting with player combinations right now, but what kind of doghouse is Terrence Williams in that he only got 1 minute in garbage time, while Bobby Simmons got 5? Also, with the Nets getting killed defensively, why not get Trenton Hassell in there?
- I don't have a stopwatch, but Michael Redd's release on his jumper looks a bit slower than what I remember.
- Of Yi's good games since his return, this might have been his most complete offensive effort. He successfully hit 5 jumpers in mid-range, and he took it to the hoop for two additional scores.
- You know an announcing duo is bored when they start debating their nicknames for dunks like Ian Eagle and Mike Fratello did. I also appreciated how the Czar didn't know who "Kid" from "Kid N' Play" was. Speaking of which, nice haircut Brandon Jennings.