Can we ban Los Nets forever?
Over the last two years, the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors have played to a literal tie across their eight-regular season and seven playoff games — 1,504-1,504 — but what would 2016 bring?
With the Nets in a looming tailspin and the Raptors near the top of the conference, sports logic might suggest that this game would be a blowout. However, the Nets often don’t follow sports logic and they even leaptout to a late second quarter lead thanks to some crafty Donald Sloan penetrations, a few lovely rainbows from Bojan Bogdanovic, and a terribly sloppy Raptors team.
The Nets, who rank 29th in the NBA in made threes, shot 4-7 from behind the arc in the first half, a rather remarkable number for them, all things considered. On the other side of things, the Raptors nailed just 2 of their 14 attempts — a recipe for success for Brooklyn, right? Wrong, the Nets would find themselves down 9 at halftime.
Sports logic will get you every time.
Ultimately, this was a winnable game for the Nets, but they managed to out-slump the poor-shooting Raptors, who finished at 43% from the field to Brooklyn’s 39.7%. After three quarters, with the starters a combined 21-49, Wayne Ellington (2-7 on his own accord) and Donald Sloan were the only two members of the bench to record a bucket — leaving the Nets at a 70-56 deficit. Even then, that was just about as close as things would get against Toronto as the collective powers of DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, and Jonas Valanciunas (a combined 20-40, 54 points) were too much.
After eleven straight games of dead-even basketball, the Raptors tore open this semi-standing rivalry and cruised to a 91-74 victory. With just 74 points, the Nets put up the lowest total of the entire season, one worse than their collapse against the San Antonio Spurs back in November. If 2016 is bringing blowout Toronto Raptors wins in Brooklyn, then I only have one other thing to say: we have to go back!
9 PTS, 4-8 FG%, 5 RBS, 4 ASTS, 3 STLS, 1 TO
Shane Larkin, Starting Point Guard, Take 2:
Although he’s struggling to hit Brook Lopez with those pocket passes that Jarrett Jack orchestrated with ease, his elusive speed and changes in direction still helps him get to hoop more often than not.
It’s actually strange — as that bench sparkplug, Larkin was a fairly consistent three-point shooter and assisted on a high rate nearly every night. But now that he’s a starter, Larkin is a combined 1-7 from three with six assists in 57 minutes of playing time.
11 PTS, 5-13 FG%, 7 RBS, 2 ASTS, 2 STLS, 2 TOs
Thaddeus Young seemed really frustrated all night.
After a non-call/call sequence against Luis Scola in the first quarter, Young was vocal, bothered, and relatively unobtrusive to the rest of the half, for better or for worse. I guess getting bodied by a thirty-five year-old man will do that to you.
Typically, when Young isn’t shooting well, he only needs a couple of offensive rebounds and simple put-backs to get things going. Against the Raptors, however, he just seemed to be stuck in between gears, throttling down the hill with no brakes.
Almost certainly, Friday will be better.
12 PTS, 4-10 FG%, 2 RBS, 3 ASTS, 1 TO
I bet you didn’t even know you wanted a pretty two-step spin move from Bogdanovic until he nonchalantly tossed it out on Patrick Patterson in the second quarter — I know I didn’t.
A small pattern I’ve noticed with Bogdanovic is that his first four shots are immensely important. If he misses most of them, he takes a secondary role in the offense; but, if he makes a couple early on, then he’s liable to go for 15.
As Johnson’s star continues to fade, Bogdanovic needs to shoulder some of the perimeter scoring they’ve lacked throughout the year.
As DJ Khaled would say, confidence is key.
pretty move by Bojan https://t.co/iAHkHVZqHT
— devin kharpertian (@uuords) January 7, 2016
5 PTS, 2-7 FG%, 2 RBS, 1 ASTS, 3 TOs
Joe Johnson is trying, nobody can ever take that away from him, but you can’t help but wonder just how much the fifteen-year pro has left in the tank. He’s averaging nearly 35 minutes a game and his poor perimeter defense leaves much to be desired, so it’s surprising that Lionel Hollins hasn’t tried Markel Brown as a stop gap more often.
Sooner rather than later, the Nets will have to find an answer to the Joe Johnson problem.
24 PTS, 11-21 FG%, 13 RBS, 1 AST, 1 STL, 3 BLKS, 3 TOs
Brook, you might have to bring the hair back.
With hair? Eastern Conference Player of the Week.
Without hair? 2-7 in the first quarter and a poor physical showing versus Jonas Valanciunas. Per usual, Lopez rebounded quite nicely, but those slow starts truly hurt the Nets, who often need hot starts to stay afloat at all. We’ve talked about how Lopez tends to struggle against the burly, weighty centers like Nikola Vucevic before and Valanciunas certainly falls into that category as well.
Yes, Brook turned things around on offense en route to his tenth 20 and 10 game, but the big Lithuanian also got whatever shot he wanted on the other end. All and all, not a bad effort from — literally interrupted mid-thought by Lopez’s ridiculous, falling while fouled, no-look, behind-the-back flip shot.
OK, you win tonight, Brook.
Sure, Brook https://t.co/S8ESGsiJJF
— devin kharpertian (@uuords) January 7, 2016