During pre-game, Lionel Hollins spoke about the importance of doing better as a team and finishing out games — do you think he was happy about this one? In the first of four games against their Atlantic Division rivals, the Brooklyn Nets hardly managed to put together an entire half of consistent effort, much less the entire four-eight frame that Hollins is chasing.
No, you can’t really blame them for being bystanders to an incredible 2nd quarter that saw the Celtics shoot 18 for 21, including nine three-pointers, but their poor rotation, flat-footed defense, and struggle to dribble at all without losing it (hey, maybe Bargnani is on to something after all!) made the game a lost cause by hafltime.
More than anything, unfortunately, it just doesn’t seem like the majority of the Nets have bought into what Hollins is selling these days. Hollins isn’t promising the playoffs or twenty-point blowout victories; no, all he wants is effort and consistency, but the Nets seem largely uninterested in that part of basketball after a few possessions go sour. Of course, you’d like to think that Joe Johnson and Bojan Bogdanovic will find their shots eventually, but if they can’t make an effort to close out, an effort to communicate, or an effort to move the ball, then we’ll be all out of positives spins.
And for a team with no draft picks and a 2-11 record, those are the only things worth writing about.
(You may be wondering why I awarded them with a D+ — hey, they solved their three-point problems! They hit eight of them! The Nets can use small victories anywhere they can get them right now…)
The stats: 14 PTS, 5-9 FG, 7 REB, 2 AST
For the most part, Brook Lopez seemed completely indifferent to the game, spent more than a few possessions standing in the corner, and seemed resigned to the fact that he’d get another chance on Sunday. Although he played 27 minutes and had 7 rebounds, he didn’t have much an impact on the court until the game was far out of hand.
For a team so offensively inept right now, why the Nets don’t employ the simple strategy of getting the ball to Lopez on every other possession seems like an absolute no-brainer and a missed opportunity for all parties.
The stats: 8 PTS, 3-9 FG, 9 REB, 5 TOV
I don’t quite think Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is ready to be an NBA starter, but as he is literally the only Nets player worth writing about defensively, the rookie has been thrown into the fire for better or for worse. There’s a pattern that has developed this season in which the Nets go down big and the majority of their roster shuts down, but not Hollis-Jefferson.
And as Nets fans slowly realize that actual wins will be far and few between this year, they’ll see that Hollis-Jefferson is a guy worth cheering for in 2015-2016 and that’s all we can hope for.