Not all good games are close and not all close games are good.
The Nets struggled early with the Suns’ transition game, and some sloppy play led to easy Suns layups. The Nets had trouble with nearly all facets of the game: they couldn’t hit layups, struggled with defensive communication, threw away passes and lost possession on dribble-drives, and let the Suns hang tight despite Phoenix missing their first 21 (yes, 21!) three-pointers.
Two big performances from unheralded backups helped swing regulation for a stretch; Bojan Bogdanovic’s three-point barrage helped turn the tight contest into a comfortable Nets lead, and Cory Jefferson’s possession-controlling glasswork kept the Suns at bay and the Nets getting second-chance points.
But the fun didn’t last long. The Nets, whose future 30-for-30 will be named “Underwhelming Offense In Crunch Time: The Brooklyn Nets Story,” struggled to control the ball and convert shots down the stretch, and a double-digit lead slipped away into an overtime loss.
Neither team deserved an emphatic victory out of this one, and the Nets just happened to be the one that fell further down the well.
The refrain goes: the Nets will go as far as Deron Williams will lead them. Well, there you go.
On a night where the team as a whole struggled to convert at the rim, Williams was no exception. Only some assists buoyed an otherwise rough night: Williams made smart moves on the ground but just couldn’t finish most of his shots, culminating in a crucial crunch-time offensive foul on a floater with 41.3 seconds left.
Did hold his ground on one of the game’s most important defensive plays, keeping the much larger Markieff Morris from getting an easy look in the post that would have given the Suns a late lead. But that’s just about it on a rough night of Nets basketball.
Awesome second-quarter dunk aside, a bit of a set-back game for Brown, who struggled early with turnovers and foul trouble and sat to open the second half.
Once Brooklyn’s crunch-time rock, Johnson sat the final play of regulation as the Nets went to Jarrett Jack.
In overtime, Johnson played like he wanted that time back, getting one isolation jumper to fall and another floater in the lane.
It doesn’t seem like an effort issue for Johnson: he’s played over 1,000 minutes since the turn of the new year, has begun banging with power forwards, and battled tendinitis early in the year. There’s a good argument to be made that fatigue has begun settling in.
Another non-factor game for Plumlee, who has been totally usurped in the rotation by Lopez, and now even by Cory Jefferson.
Sneakily good game on the glass for Lopez, who seems comfortable playing next to both Thaddeus Young and Cory Jefferson. Was one of the few major players who had some success scoring inside.
The Nets, who just love going to double-initial-J guards in crunch time, finally fell short in that department when Jarrett Jack’s relatively open 20-footer at the buzzer rimmed out.
Jack has a reputation at this point for taking ill-advised shots, and though some surprising ones have fallen this season (see Monday night’s game-winner against the Warriors), they’re not shots you can rely on over time.
Does a lot of little things well: gets deflections on the defensive end, hits the occasional three-pointer, kept defenders antsy with his interior moves, and strong enough that the Nets could get away with he & Cory Jefferson for some of crunch time.
Big Shot Bojan hit fire in the third quarter, banging back-to-back-to-back threes to turn a one-point deficit into a six-point lead in the span of 70 seconds. But beyond that there was little to write home about: Bogdanovic missed his final four shots and struggled to inbound the ball late in overtime, throwing away a pass that all but sealed the game.
Without that original jump-start, the Nets wouldn’t have had a lead to lose. But he also helped them lose it.
On a team of low batteries, Jefferson is an energizer: he makes his share of mistakes, but the Nets just play better with him in the game chasing down loose balls, defending at the rim, and putting in easy shots. Ravenous on rebounding with the Nets needing to extend possessions, grabbing rebounds at an historic rate down the stretch.
His fourth-quarter heroics raise the question: why did he sit the entirety of overtime?