395 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee, reigning MVP Stephen Curry polished off a monstrous third quarter by nailing the above three-pointer, a 27-foot fallaway from the right wing through contact against the New Orleans Pelicans. The free throw gave him 28 points in the quarter, 43 for the game, and the Warriors a 16-point lead.
It might’ve been 395 miles south, but it might as well have been in another universe, playing another sport, living in a different era. Because the Nets have played a throwback offense in the first three games, with a heavy dose of mid-range jumpers and post-up plays, and it was on full display against the Grizzlies.
There are some bright spots, most notably their ability to get to the rim by drive (see: Bojan Bogdanovic, Jarrett Jack) by rebound (Thomas Robinson), by post (Thaddeus Young), or by cut (Brook Lopez).
But consider that until Wayne Ellington broke free for a corner pop midway through the third quarter, the Nets as a team had hit just five three-pointers on the entire season. Curry’s four-point play was his fifth of that quarter. Consider that the Nets finished the game with eight three-pointers through three regular season games. Curry finished Saturday night with eight threes on 14 attempts.
There are options, if not answers. You could argue that Shane Larkin, who hit 43 percent of his three-pointers classified as “wide open” by NBA SportVU last season, should look for ways to get open with his speed. Or Bogdanovic, who hit 43.5 percent of his three-pointers after the All-Star Break last season, will get his looks. Or Andrea Bargnani, when healthy, still has some modicum of shooting touch in his body. Joe Johnson won’t finish the season with zero three-pointers.
The Nets have also, to their credit, played well offensively for a team wholly bereft of 24-foot shots. They’re getting a surprising number of easy looks at the rim for a team whose outside shooting would pose as the least scary abstract costume in the world. They ended the game shooting 53 percent from inside the arc.
But they tried to out-grind the Grindfather. You can’t do that.
12 PTS, 4-11 FG, 10 REB, 0 AST
Not a good look when you get called for three fouls in the first quarter, and it kept him out of rhythm for most of the game. At the very least, Marc Gasol gave him an early passing clinic.
One note: wasn’t Brook Lopez the three-point shooter supposed to be a thing this year? Lopez has taken numerous long two-pointers, but hasn’t put up a three yet.
15 PTS, 7-17 FG, 9 AST, 2 TOV
His shot selection was his standard level of questionable, Mike Conley put him in a couple of blenders, and there were a few head-scratchers in the fourth quarter, but when he’s limiting turnovers and finding teammates for layups, that’s about as much as you can ask for.
This is not a personal slight at Jack, and it never has been, as Jack has always been a courteous and thoughtful professional. NBA general managers see Jack, who has friends on every team in the league and is an excellent communicator, as a future coach. But you may have seen on numerous occasions the idea that the Nets will enthusiastically pursue Jack’s Saturday night nemesis, Mike Conley, in free agency. There’s a reason for that.
19 PTS, 8-15 FG, 2 REB, 2 AST
SECOND-QUARTER FLAMES! With everyone else shooting poorly, Bogdanovic was a refreshing antidote: attacking the basket, scoring off cuts, isolations, and open mid-range pops. He got caught on a couple screens defensively, you’d like to see him shoot more three-pointers, and he did throw away an inbounds pass that sealed a game that had already been signed and delivered, but his offense was something on a night where there wasn’t much else.
15 MIN, 8 PTS, 4-5 FG, 12 REB
He’s rough around the edges, but the energy is there. Robinson has to figure out his role to stick in this league — despite his All-American status at Kansas, he’s not a primary option on offense at this level. If he has games like he had tonight — especially in that rebound-packed second quarter — he can fit into a team that’s doing good things.