As a basketball-watching society, both writers and onlookers have became infatuated with new concept called scheduled losses. With the NBA’s rough travel schedule, the difficult task of navigating back-to-backs, and the league’s higher-than-ever level of star power, there are typically night in which teams are just, theoretically, supposed to lose.
So, then, what should we call it when the Brooklyn Nets just straight up play the San Antonio Spurs on the road after two full days of rest?
The Nets, who bless their souls this holiday season, certainly did try their hardest — make no mistake. Kenny Atkinson had done his homework before playing the franchise they look to mimic, but there just wasn’t enough firepower to keep up with the Spurs’ assault from the three-point line nor anybody equipped to stop Kawhi Leonard.
And that’s a terribly OK thing, truly: the ball movement was Spurs-esque and the swarming team defense was, I suppose, objectively fine. But there is no shame in losing to the very franchise that you’re trying to create so clearly. The Nets may never reach this level, but this is what they’re trying to build in Brooklyn, folks — stay patient.
Mixed in with the Spurs’ blazing 55% from the floor in the first half, Caris LeVert scored the two points of his professional career and Bojan Bogdanovic took a Westworld-like unconscious awakening with a 14-point opening. And yet, before you could even blink, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, Jonathan Simmons, and the aforementioned Leonard all converted from three and the Nets were left scrambling.
By halftime, Mike Fratello and Ryan Ruocco were talking about pretzels and oil rigs, and it only got worse from there.
When you make little-to-no commitment to Brook Lopez offensively — just 7 FGA through three quarters — but he’s also your high assist man (5), then those results aren’t going to be pretty for anybody. But it’s the Spurs, did you expect anything else? Sean Kilpatrick uncharacteristically struggled to find his stroke and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson continued to search for his in-game niche once again as the sophomore has hit a major wall.
This got so bad, so quick that Mills single-handedly lit the AT&T Center on fire in the third quarter, tallying a sweet run that pushed a 15-point half time lead to over 30. In fact, Mills’ 16 points in 16 minutes were more than anybody on the Nets roster up until that point — which is to say, things were not going great by any stretch of the imagination.
It’s the Spurs — what can ya do?
20 PTS, 7-13 FG, 2-4 3PT, 4 REB, 2 AST
Bojan Bogdanovic was really the only Nets player to get going in the first half and the results showed it. His 14-point outing barely kept the visitors within distance and his confident shooting was a sight for sore eyes.
It was almost like watching Maeve in Westworld after she got her stats boost in the lab — can we keep this jacked up version forever?
14 PTS, 3-7 FG, 5 REB, 5 AST, 1 BLK
12 PTS, 4-7 FG, 10 REB, 1 AST, 2 TOV
Luis Scola had been passed by Anthony Bennett in the rotation as of late, but with Justin Hamilton out thanks to a migraine, the Argentinian got some spot minutes and did well with them.
Well worth noting that at the end of the third quarter — these were player’s plus-minus entries:
-19, -15, -10, -25, -22, -12, -16, -21, -21, -28, +3.
The +3 belonged to none other than Mr. Scola — so, yeah, your silver lining.
2 PTS, 1-5 FG, 1 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 2 TOV
We’re still waiting for the rookie to get his feet under him, but he’s been one of the most interesting Nets to watch even in his short court time.
4 PTS, 2-8 FG, 7 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 1 TOV
4 PTS, 1-6 FG, 1 REB, 1 AST, 1 TOV