Diaries from an Unimportant Preseason Game, Vol 6
Ah, can you hear that? No? Well, it’s the wonderful sound of the NBA Preseason coming to a close at long last. For the Brooklyn Nets, we’ve seen pretty of the good, bad, and ugly things this team can offer and, since the last time we journaled, we said goodbye (for now) to Jorge Gutierrez, Egidijus Mockevicius, Chase Budinger, and Beau Beech. Again, these games are still largely unimportant and will mean little when these New York rivals meet for the first time in November, but with this tantalizing tweet from pregame, we were off and running:
— Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) October 20, 2016
— After Brook Lopez and Jeremy Lin helped the Nets get out to a 9-2 lead, the defensive quickly became iffy with Luis Scola on the court. Lopez and Scola struggled to contain Joakim Noah, of all people, and his 10 points in the first quarter really saved the New York Knicks early on.
Assuming that we’ll see plenty of Lopez/Scola (and a healthy dose of Justin Hamilton), the Nets could be in some serious trouble defensively without Trevor Booker on the court. Oh, and by the way, Booker only played 15 minutes so you can see where this is going.
— Man, the Nets were careless with the ball tonight– weren’t they? When they weren’t allowing Noah to drive mostly unfettered to the rim, the Nets were tossing the ball away at a reckless pace. So you don’t have to sadly Google “Nets preseason box score,” we’ve kept track for you:
Turnovers: Lin (8), Bogdanovic (4), Vasquez (3), Hollis-Jefferson (2), Lopez (2), Scola (2), Ferrell (1), Kilpatrick (1), Booker (1)
1Q: 8; 2Q: 5; 3Q: 4; 4Q: 7 — Total: 24 turnovers
Yeah, that’s not going to fly with Kenny Atkinson.
— As for those aforementioned rotations, if this is any indication, then Sean Kilpatrick and Anthony Bennett may have a bone to pick. Both have struggled at times this preseason and Atkinson opted to sub in with units — first Bojan Bogdanovic and Scola; then Joe Harris and Hamilton; all before Kilpatrick and Bennett debuted with 8 minutes left in the half.
They’re both players with very particular skillsets and when that duo isn’t executing on them, they lose much of their usefulness.
— As for Lin, it was a strange display against his former squad; often bringing the intensity and pace that Atkinson wants to play at, but lost the ball a little too easy at times. Whether it was tipped away in the lane or missing Hamilton on a curl, Lin seemed out of sorts for the first time with the Nets.
While his turnovers continued to rack up, Lin would finish with a cool 24 points and 10 assists — which is, all things considered, really, really great. Lin played, somehow, really good and really bad at the same time — or, and I like to call it, New York basketball, baby!
— And yet, for all that, the Nets led 57-55 at halftime — so what, really, do I know?
— Your daily foray into the Nets’ three-point shooting: Lopez, Lin, Foye, Hollis-Jefferson, Hamilton, Vasquez, Bogdanovic, Bennett, Harris, and Scola all made one-pointer.
— It was a tough night for Lopez, who struggled from, well, just about everywhere. He took four three-pointers (!) and came up short on more than a few of his favorite bunny shots. Undoubtedly, Lopez will shake off his preseason rust and get rolling here soon, but with Atkinson’s pacy play and volume three-point shooting, he’s looking like the odd man out right now.
— If you’re willing to look past the iffy defending on Noah — the slowest son of a former tennis legend in NBA history — then the old man Scola had himself another sneaky-solid night. Scola’s proven he can step out and hit from outside, but his passing is probably third-best on the squad behind Lin and Vasquez.
— Chris McCullough + Isaiah Whitehead didn’t play at all tonight. Safe to say, they’re out of Atkinson’s rotation for now and that’s probably for the best.
— Although Greivis Vasquez had a team-worst -15 +/-, it was easily his best preseason performance of year. His jumper is still wonky and he threw a couple of miserable passes, but you’ll take 8 assists from your backup point guard any day of the week.
Vasquez is still crafty as hell and the Nets will need this version — albeit more polished — should their second unit survive the rocky sea this season.
— With a shade over 5 minutes left, just as the Nets looked dead in the water, Lin and Lopez cut the lead to 102-98 — cautiously raising the hopes of the packed Barclays Center. Lin did his best to keep the Nets afloat, but, alas, it was just fool’s gold.
A late three-pointer from Harris would cut it to 114-111, but Yogi Ferrell, getting his first action of the game, tried to throw an ill-advised pass down by three points and less than ten seconds on the clock. The Knicks stole it, chucked it down court, and game over. Not a good look for the undrafted rookie — but he’ll learn that out on Long Island.
— The Nets lost. Duh. 116-111.
The preseason is over! Rejoice! The games start counting for real next week as the Nets face off against the Boston Celtics at 7:30 EST on October 27th.