In what was the team’s best chance at escaping Atlanta without a loss, the Nets opened the night stuck in traffic on the way to Philips Arena because of — you totally guessed it — a farm convention, specifically “the world’s largest annual poultry, meat & feed industry event of its kind.”
But tragically, the Nets bus made it to the arena well in time for the game, with no issues pushing back the opening tip between Mason Plumlee and Hawks center Al Horford.
The Nets played one of their most complete games of the season, defending a tough team well for stretches and creating open shots. Despite that, they never really stood a chance, and the Atlanta
Phoenixes Hawks picked up their seventeenth straight victory Wednesday night even with the Nets playing one of their best efforts in recent memory.
Seriously, this was an impressive effort for the Nets, given where they stand today. It’s hardly a beacon of hope for title contention, but it’s something: they played toe to toe for most of 48 minutes against what’s arguably the best team in the NBA right now. That’s something, even if it’s not much of anything.
14 PTS, 5-13 FG, 13 AST
Jack’s aggressive defense in the first quarter led to a number of pass deflections and turnovers for Atlanta, and he reined in his tendency to take quick shots for a bit en route to a career-high in assists, before reverting to his trigger-happy mid-range ways in the second half. Old habits die hard.
Had trouble staying in front of Jeff Teague, but at this point, that just means he’s a starting point guard in the East.
15 PTS, 5-10 FG, 2-6 3PT, 6 AST
Snuck his way into the starting lineup and actually did a good job in it: didn’t overthrow the offense, took smart shots, dished when he drove, and threw down this two-hand slam out of nowhere. If tonight was an audition for future games, Anderson will probably stick with the starters for the time being.
Seriously, what’s he supposed to do here?
26 PTS, 10-19 FG, 3-6 3PT, 2 REB
The seven-time All-Star that spent seven years in Atlanta came out immediately aggressive, looking for open shots early and often as the team’s best offensive option again.
Johnson has struggled recently with tendonitis, likely related to the crazy amount of minutes he’s putting on his legs, and it’s probably not a coincidence that he put up his best-scoring game in a month after resting for three days.
4 PTS, 2-5 FG, 4 REB, 4 PF
Played extended minutes in the first quarter, and it might’ve affected him in the second: Garnett picked up two quick fouls and shot right back to the bench.
Sat most of the second half, as Cory Jefferson and Brook Lopez got extended minutes.
14 PTS, 7-12 FG, 7 REB, 3 BLK
Aggressive both looking for his hook shot and running to the rim. Didn’t show off any moves that might hint what’s coming in the Slam Dunk Contest, but when he’s the only developing strength the team has, hard to complain about that.
18 PTS, 6-11 FG, 7 REB, 2 BLK
Up-and-down stint for Lopez: struggled to get going in the post, hit a nice floater in the paint, casually swatted away Dennis Schröder shortly after getting scored on by Mike Scott, set rock-solid screens and kept his scoring in or near the paint, but also struggled to get out and defend shooters.
In a slight upset, Lopez is slowly rounding into his usual form… Just in time for the Nets to explore the trade market.
5 PTS, 2-4 FG, 5 REB
He’s springy. The Nets need springy. On a related note, they need someone other than Mason Plumlee who’s not averse to throwing it down in traffic. Check.
6 PTS, 2-5 FG, 2-4 3PT
Opened his second-quarter stint by firing an airball from the right corner. Followed it up by nailing it from the exact same spot. Hit a pretty fading three in the fourth quarter. That’s pretty much it.
0 PTS, 0-6 FG, 0-4 3PT
The Nets desperately need Deron Williams back.