Two days ago, the Nets’ biggest problems enveloped almost everything under the sun; by Sunday, somehow, things had gotten even worse and they hadn’t even played the 32-6 San Antonio Spurs yet.
Following the dismissal of Lionel Hollins and reassignment of Billy King during brunch, a Nets franchise was launched headlong into the final stage of dysfunction: acceptance. Tony Brown was named Interim Head Coach and, without much of a wait, the Nets embarked on their latest adventure in a line of misadventures.
They say that teams find a sense of responsibility after their coach is fired, that oh-so semi-mythical-but-never-disproven post-firing bump. For the Nets, however, it was a more like post-firing valley.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that Brooklyn didn’t react with a new sense of urgency following Hollins’ exit, the Spurs are just the best franchise in sports over the last twenty years — what can you do about it?
So, not exactly a recipe for success in Brown’s first game at the helm and, yet, this was far from a lost cause. Sure, their defense is still mostly suspect and the three-point shooting hasn’t entered the 21st century, but was this a Nets team, gulp, worth cheering for?
Brook Lopez, who has gone long stretches without shooting in the past, shot 20 times and helped the Nets hang around longer than they probably should have. And Donald Sloan, now the team’s first-choice point guard, followed up his 10-assist performance by helping out a team-high 5 times tonight.
And yet, the more things change, the more things stay the same:
- Bench Scoring: 26 points (Spurs, 49)
- Three-Pointers Made: 2-12 (Spurs, 4-13
- Turnovers: 19 (Spurs, 12)
Still, despite the, you know, massive gulf in talent between Lopez, Young, Sloan and the Spurs’ starting lineup of five (probable) Hall of Famers, this wasn’t a completely lost effort.
There was (some) ball movement, a semi-rejuvenation of the man they call Joe Johnson, and all 12 played as Tony Brown tried to carve out his own rotation moving forward. Sloan showed that he was capable of facilitating an offense and Thomas Robinson proved that he’ll hustle in whatever role he’s given.
This was never going to be pretty for Brooklyn, but they may have figured out some valuable knowledge in the process. Admittedly, Brown was dealt a tough hand going against Pop & Co. in his first game as it eventually devolved into the Boban Marjanovic show, but this grass is definitely greener, don’t worry.
0 PTS, 0-5 FG%, 1 RB, 1 TO
Bojan Bogdanovic in the last two games under Hollins: 0-11, 2 points.
Bojan Bogdanovic tonight with Brown in charge: 0-5, 0 points.
If it wasn’t obvious before, this is a full-on slump for Bogdanovic and largely unrelated to whomever is calling the plays.
The Nets don’t even have the most-liked Bo_an in here. https://t.co/YfTTpQSIfS
— devin kharpertian (@uuords) January 12, 2016
18 PTS, 8-17 FG%, 5 RBS, 2 ASTS, 2 BLKS, 1 TO
On one hand: 23 points, 23 FGAs, just three shots than Brook Lopez’s last two games combined (26).
On the other: Lopez struggled inside against the likes of Tim Duncan and Boris Diaw, didn’t rebound particularly well, and continued to pick up some frustrating fouls.
With the Knicks coming on Wednesday, maybe he’s saving all the rebounds for Robin?
9 PTS, 4-10 FG%, 9 RBS, 1 AST, 4 TOs
Thaddeus Young young’d pretty hard, but he was absolutely torched on the defensive end by LaMarcus Aldridge. For all his predictable and reliable results on the offensive end, it was mostly undone thanks to the All-Star’s efforts on the other end.
Young was one of Brooklyn’s best players tonight, but Aldridge’s stats speak for themselves: 25 points, 11 rebounds, 12-17 FG%.
2 PTS, 1-4 FG%, 5 ASTS, 1 STL, 1 TO
Donald’s Sloan’s 5 assists may not leave in you in shock and awe, but considering that made up a third of the Nets’ total number, we’ll take what we can get.
Sloan, who was glued to the bench as the third point guard before Jarrett Jack’s injury, has clearly leapfrogged Shane Larkin for the starting spot in a matter of days. That alone says a massive amount about the NBA journeyman, but how will Brown use him moving forward?
16 PTS, 6-7 FG%, 3 RBS
It’s hard to truly complain about Joe Johnson’s most efficient night in a Nets uniform, but he’s close to a full-time drifter now.
Gliding from one end of the court to the other, Johnson, sometimes shooting well, but always letting his competition drive past, is still as much of a slow burn as always — we’re just on the other side of the mountain now.
But, hey, he shot 6-7 from the field and had zero turnovers — should we turn on the conspiracy theory machine now or later?