A complete and utter collapse in what should’ve been an inspirational win over a good team to kick off the road trip.
This looked like an easy win early, with the Nets scripting a damn-near-perfect flex offense en route to 70 percent shooting in the first half. But the Nets completely shied away from their principles in the third and fourth quarter, and after a series of mid-range shots and isolations, the Nets turned a 19-point lead into a loss.
You can’t fail the Nets for their effort here — they did dominate for the first half against a legitimate playoff team in the West in their home court. It wasn’t an end-to-end blowout. But the Nets had this game. They should’ve won this game. They played the exact game they should’ve played in the first 24 minutes that would’ve given them a victory. With a back-to-back against the Warriors and then a game in Portland looming, they needed to pull this one off. And then they threw it away.
14 PTS, 5-10 FG, 5 AST, 4 REB, 5 TOV
Still quick, still strong, still shooting smart shots, but when the offense fluctuates between sloppiness and stagnation, there’s onus on the point guard that’s there to manage it.
14 PTS, 4-10 FG
Still getting accustomed to NBA defense, but he’s speeding through the learning curve on NBA offense — that awful crunch-time turnover to Joe Johnson aside.
21 PTS, 7-16 FG, 5 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL
By heading into this game with his comments about selfishness and team play, Johnson all but challenged everyone — including himself — to put up 48 minutes of unselfishness and good looks.
For 24 minutes, it worked. The Nets didn’t take a single midrange jumper as the flex flexed, with Johnson’s contributions key.
But old habits die hard, and Johnson took three bad midrange jumpers in the third as a participant in Brooklyn’s collapsing lead. Then, in the game’s waning moments, Johnson went full-bore Iso-Joe, abandoning the very principles he’d claimed he wanted the team to run, throwing up bad shots and committing a crucial turnover.
Johnson held the team to a standard, a standard that they exceeded for the first 24 minutes, and then abandoned ship as it sunk. The responsibility falls on his shoulders to lead.
12 PTS, 5-8 FG, 10 REB,
In an odd turn, perhaps in response to Johnson’s comments, the Nets went to perhaps their most unselfish player — Garnett — early and often, and Garnett did well to score in the paint to open up the early big Nets lead.
Bounced the Suns out of the paint when on defense. Uses his speedy principles as a lifelong power forward to break the “cage” of playing center, and when Teletovic is hitting threes, those two make a dangerous frontcourt combo for Lopez’s rest time.
16 PTS (ALL IN 1ST HALF), 6-13 FG, 3 REB
Lopez averaged 4.5 field goal attempts in the first quarter over the first four games. He took zero field goal attempts in the first six minutes of the game, and his first attempt was a tip-in on an offensive rebound.
Though Lopez took more kindly to passing in the first quarter, he morphed into his requisite wrecking-ball-post-up-machine, getting into the paint and abusing Miles Plumlee.
But after those flashes of greatness, Lopez didn’t hit a shot in the second half, and wasn’t looking to pass.
Some guys can succeed when they’re not scoring. Kevin Garnett’s one of them. Brook Lopez isn’t. Even if you don’t consider him sitting out the final 4:08 an indictment of his play, it’s an indictment of how he matches up against teams like this when he’s not hitting shots.
8 PTS, 2-4 FG, 5 TOV
16 PTS, 6-11 FG, 4-8 3P, 7 REB, 4 AST
Had some struggles with the Suns switched up their coverage on him — they elected to switch the pick-and-pops, which neutralized most of his long-range attempts — but that’s a minor quibble in another major game for Fearza, who’s hitting three-pointers at a ridiculous, and even possibly sustainable, clip to start the year.