What happened: The Nets stumbled to perhaps their most depressing loss of the season, falling 111-91 to the New Orleans Pelicans at Barclays Center for their fourth straight home loss.
Where they stand: At 25-37, the Nets are now three games back from the Charlotte Hornets for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, with 20 games left to play.
That was… This team, man. Man, this team, man. What’s left to say about this team?
The Nets took an early lead behind Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, the two most recent additions to the starting lineup, as Young attacked MVP candidate Anthony Davis with reckless abandon and Brook Lopez dropped in every shot he took in the first quarter, most of them right at the rim. They opened the frame making 10 of their first 14 shots, taking an early 25-11 lead over a team fighting for the Western Conference playoffs. Brook Lopez hit his first six shots in this one, including this pretty dunk through Anthony Davis-led traffic:
The Nets led 25-11 at one point. There was hope. And that was about where the good news ended.
Just about everything went New Orleans’s way: some easy buckets for Alexis Ajinca over & behind Mason Plumlee, some shot creation from New Orleans’s wings that the Nets couldn’t replicate, Anthony Davis rising over the Nets defense, a barrage of Pelicans three-pointers and multiple missed Nets layups, three progressively worse injuries to three Nets guards, a failed Deron Williams dunk, and a blowout loss.
Game Grades: Read ’em here.
Snakebit: The Nets wing depth took a major blow Tuesday night. After Alan Anderson (bruised tailbone) and Markel Brown (turned ankle) were removed from the game with injuries, Sergey Karasev was carried off the floor with what looked like a season-ending knee injury. Karasev’s right knee buckled after hitting a screen set by Pelicans center Alexis Ajinca. He laid on the floor writhing in pain for several minutes.
“It’s just one of those games,” Joe Johnson sighed in the locker room. “Guys just kept getting hurt. You hate to see it because you got a lot of guys that’s fighting, playing hard, been playing well. It’s tough. It’s next man up, step up, and somebody else has to try and full that void. But we all collectively have to try and fill it.”
Brown turned his ankle after landing on Eric Gordon’s foot lunging for a rebound. He crumpled to the floor in obvious pain, and was unable to put weight on the ankle following the injury as his teammates carried him to the locker room. Brown walked with a limp after the game, but was in good spirits. “Probably if I wouldn’t have gotten driven by (by Gordon), I wouldn’t have rolled my ankle,” he said with a laugh.
Brown also couldn’t believe he was to be joined shortly by Karasev, who used crutches to get around after the game. “I was back here getting treatment, and I heard, ‘Sergey’s coming!'” Brown said. “‘Coming back here for what?'”
Not for the squeamish: I do not recommend you watch the Sergey Karasev video. But if you must, it is here.
So what next? Hollins didn’t have any immediate plans for his rotation, which is assuredly down at least one wing player and might be down three for a game against Miami fewer than 24 hours later. “Let’s be real now, Sergey (Karasev) wasn’t playing much,” Hollins said. “And no matter who’s out there, they’re all professionals and they get paid to play. We’ll go out and compete. That’s all you can do.”
Brown & Anderson both flew to Miami with the team, while Karasev stayed behind for further testing on his knee.
For the record: the Nets do have one open roster spot, and could use it to bring up a player from the D-League or on the market to fill the void. But that seems unlikely.
Paint Job: The Nets faced a tough challenge in Anthony Davis, who had only allowed opponents to shoot a paltry 27.6 percent on shots in the paint outside of the restricted area all season. If any team seemed like the right one to take him to task, it’s the Nets, who boasted a league-best 45.3 percent shooting percentage in that area heading into the game. Unfortunately, Brow trumped Touch: the Nets hit just 5 of 20 shots in the paint outside the restricted area on the game.
“We relaxed,” Jarrett Jack said. “They started making shots and we didn’t do a good job of defending them at all tonight. We struggled a bit from the perimeter.”
It might’ve helped had they been effective anywhere else, but the Nets shot 25-for-70 after their hot start, including an ugly 6-for-24 third quarter. “I think the third quarter we must have missed seven or eight layups, and then we had a couple of wide open jumpers, and didn’t make them, either,” Hollins said.
BK, Connected: Myself, Rod Boone of Newsday, and Chris Shearn of YES Network went around the horn on all things Nets before the game. Check it out.
Playoffs!? As mentioned above, the Nets are three games back in the playoff race, with 20 games left to play. But the road ahead is a narrow one: they play the Eastern Conference-best Atlanta Hawks twice, the second-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers twice, and every other Eastern Conference playoff team once. Giving up four consecutive games at home to beatable competition is as close to a death knell as you can get.
Next up: The Nets have a quick turnaround Wednesday — they flew to Florida shortly after the Pelicans game to take on the Miami Heat Wednesday night in Miami.