There are infinite ways to look at a basketball game. One is as a game of spatial attrition: maximize the potential for scoring by finding the most high-efficiency shots, and that can trump a team with more talent. That’s basically the “MoreyBall” model: take close shots, shoot a ton of threes, and draw as much contact as possible to get to the free throw line.
That’s precisely what the Rockets did: almost all of their points came at the rim, beyond the arc, or at the line. Add in their superior talent, and it looked like the 0-7 Nets might fall to 0-8.
And yet… the Nets won. Even with all their mid-range shots and talent dearths, they actually won, against a tough road team built to devour teams like Brooklyn.
Behind a big defensive effort down the stretch and a suddenly-solid three-point shooting team, the Nets snuck a road victory against a healthy team widely considered a top threat in the notoriously Western Conference.
You could see the recipe for a victory. The Nets got to loose balls — particularly on the glass — and hit their open three-pointers. It didn’t look like a different team, but it looked a little more like one that has a chance of winning more than, well, one game every eight tries.
I credit Lionel Hollins shaving his beard.
14 PTS, 6-17 FG, 12 REB, 5 BLK
What sore foot? The Nets gave the ball to Lopez on the block in the first half and let him go to work, and he delivered with an array of set shots and fadeaways to pick up 14 first-half points. In the second half, Lopez didn’t score, but made his mark defensively by turning back a few Dwight Howard looks. Not his most efficient night, but a solid one nonetheless.
13 PTS, 5-8 FG, 4 REB, 3 BLK
There’s a reason the Nets secured Lopez & Young quickly and early this offseason: the two are the only thing keeping the Nets offense afloat for long stretches. His touch on shots in the paint through traffic is preternatural; Young doesn’t overcome opponents with brute force or high-flying throwdowns but dipsy-doos and sneaky, off-time hooks.
That’s not to say that Young can’t dunk — which he did, emphatically, in the third quarter — or that his dipsy-doo shots don’t get blocked — which Dwight Howard also did in that third quarter. But his value comes in his ability to drop sneaky points.
22 PTS, 10-20 FG, 2-5 3PT, 9 REB, 3 AST
When Bogdanovic said over the summer that he would have a big year with the ball in his possession, these were the kinds of games he was talking about.
He shook off a shaky start to make a big impact in the second quarter, capping the half with a fast-break layup that put the Nets up 55-49, and hit perhaps Brooklyn’s biggest three-pointer of the night off a beautiful Joe Johnson feed to put them up 102-96.
It wasn’t just his work on the offensive end, either: when a ball got tipped around after a missed shot on the defensive end, Bogdanovic ended up securing it more than once, and hit his career-high in rebounds well before the final buzzer.
I don’t remember Bogdanovic looking this intent on taking short jumpers in the past, though it’s been clear for some time that he can make them.
16 PTS, 4-13 FG, 7-7 FT, 10 AST, 7 REB, 0 TOV
He still can’t shoot, but man, can he pass.
6 PTS, 3-3 FG, 6 REB, 1 BLK
Huh? Robinson came out of nowhere to make an impact in the final quarter, including one big stretch where he deflected or altered three straight Rockets rim shots, then broke free for a breakaway dunk to put the Nets up six.
15 PTS, 6-10 FG, 3-4 3PT, 7 REB, 2 AST
Someone on the Nets can hit threes!