In 1951, New York Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio told The Sporting News: “There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time, I owe him my best.”
Safe to say Joe DiMaggio did not play for the Nets Friday night.
The Brooklyn Nets played the Atlanta Hawks even for the first, third, and fourth quarters, but were outscored 36-13 in the game-swinging second quarter as the Hawks cruised to a blowout and their fifth straight victory, 98-75. It was a game marred by frustration for the Nets, who missed 15 of their 18 three-point attempts and racked up more turnovers (17) than assists (16).
Not even the Nets could believe how bad it was. “I thought in the third quarter we cut in the lead a little bit, but I looked up and we were down by two more than we were at the half,” Brook Lopez said.
The loss dropped the Nets to 8-10, and came on the heels of two good wins against the New York Knicks and San Antonio Spurs. The night was punctuated by backup forward Mirza Teletovic slamming the ball down in frustration with the team down 75-53 in the third quarter.
“Bad day at the office,” Joe Johnson, who finished with 12 points on 4-8 shooting, exhaled after the game. “Credit the Hawks D(efense). They shot lights out from the guard spot to the bigs. They were on point tonight.”
Coach Lionel Hollins had a simple diagnosis. “We couldn’t make a shot, and they made a lot of shots,” Hollins deadpanned. “It happens like that four or five times a year, and you try to get over it real quick. I thought we would come out and play better, but they’re a good basketball team and a very quick & athletic basketball team.”
The game started slow for Brooklyn, but there was reason for optimism. The Nets had mostly run successful offensive sets, even though they missed a couple of shots, and looked primed to play a successful 48-minute game.
But Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll outscored the Nets by himself in the second quarter, dropping 14 points on 5-5 shooting, and the Hawks forced five turnovers and held the Nets to 5-19 shooting in the game-deciding second.
“They really shot the ball well, and we kind of got away from things that we’ve been doing well the past few games,” Lopez added, wearing a “Rescue Rangers” shirt.
The Nets have the weekend off before they host the Cleveland Cavaliers Monday night, and they’ll have to shake off this loss if they have any chance to win that one. The Cavaliers are led by LeBron James, who scored 49 points in his last game at Barclays Center, while with the Miami Heat in the playoffs last season.
“Players come back and play,” Hollins added. “You lose a triple-overtime game, you lose on a last-second shot, you come back and play. That’s the nature of competition. If you can’t handle it, then you just don’t play.”