With the Nets trailing by 24, out came the boo birds at home for the Nets. These weren’t just one-time boos, they were multiple-time boos. It wasn’t one loud, obnoxious fan, or one small section. These were the type of boos you’d hear at Philadelphia sporting event or even a New York Mets game. These were loud, consistent boos for a soon-to-be 5-13 Nets team with sky-high expectations.
It all started half a year ago.
On June 12th, 2013, Brooklyn Nets GM Billy King reportedly met with Brian Shaw for four-plus hours. What seemed like moments later on that day in June, the Nets chose not to hire Shaw, but instead to hire Jason Kidd, a recent NBA retiree with no head coaching experience.
Fast forward nearly six months. On December 3rd, Kidd and Shaw engaged in another competition: this time in an actual basketball game, facing off as rookie head coaches. As Shaw and the Nuggets proved to Kidd and the Nets, expectations aren’t always a good thing.
Denver came into Tuesday’s game having won six games in a row and nine of their last 11 games. The Nets, though coming off of a road win in Memphis, were still 5-12 and searching for answers as to how they would overcome the fact that over one-fourth of their roster would be out with various injuries.
The evening started off in a mysterious way with the announcement by Kidd that lead assistant coach Lawrence Frank would be “reassigned.” Various media reports made it out to seem as though the Nets players were caught off guard by the news, as Frank was even available at morning shootaround.
When the game tipped off, the Nets started with energy — taking advantage of mismatches early in the 1st quarter and scoring with ease. Whether it was the 7’1″ Brook Lopez vs. the 6’9″ J.J. Hickson or Andray Blatche vs. Darrell Arthur, the Nets were using their size advantage in the post. The Nets shot 55% from the field in the high-scoring 1st quarter.
With a 29-27 lead after the 1st, the Nets appeared as though they were ready to hang with the red-hot Nuggets. But not for long. The second quarter came around and the Nets offense went stagnant. Their defense allowed the Nuggets to shoot 56.5% from the field in the quarter.
Though the defense was porous, it was Denver’s advantage on the glass that allowed them to take an eight-point lead going into the half. The Nets were out-rebounded in the first half by 13 and allowed the Nuggets to grab 12 offensive rebounds, leading to 10 second chance points.
Okay, one good quarter, one bad. Onto the third. Oh, the third. The doom of the Nets season, one of many reasons behind the Nets early struggles, that elusive 3rd quarter.
A Joe Johnson jump shot with 8:35 left in the 3rd period cut Denver’s lead to 60-56. As soon as the game seemed in reach once again, the Nets folded in typical fashion: after that Johnson jumper, Denver outscored the Nets 29-11 to end the period and out-rebounded in the quarter 15-7 (4-0 in favor of Denver on the offensive boards).
How could you blame the crowd for booing? Many of them paid upwards of $100 for their tickets likely before the season even began hoping to see not only the Nets’ shiny new stars, but also a win for a team that was expected to get a lot of them.
Unfortunately, the people didn’t see that. They saw the embarrassment that has been the Nets’ season wrapped up in one ugly game.
After the game, the Nets seemed dejected. Kevin Garnett offered up a no-excuse mentality:
“No excuses. This is a no-excuse league. We’ve got to have a better showing at home. We’ve got to have a better showing, period.”
According to reporters, Brook Lopez seemed the most dejected of them all, simply pointing t the dry-erase board in the locker room when asked to describe what happened.
The Nets have one day off before the
bad big showdown with the crosstown rival New York Knicks on Thursday that may be termed “the desperation bowl.”
As Jason Kidd put it after the game, “The rivalry and both teams stink, so the one thing is we have to find a way to get better. It starts tomorrow for us.”