Good morning! The Nets lost it all: the game, their cool, the coolness factor. Here’s how:
What happened: The Brooklyn Nets played toe-to-toe with the Houston Rockets following Kevin Garnett’s ejection for head-butting Dwight Howard, but fell apart in the second half, eventually losing 113-99.
Where they stand: The Nets are now 16-22 after the loss, falling to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. They stand just 1.5 games ahead of the Indiana Pacers & Charlotte Hornets (both 15-24), and just two games ahead of the Boston Celtics (13-23) & surging Detroit Pistons (14-24).
That was… The Headbutt Game, followed by The James Harden Show. The Rockets’ All-Star guard put on a clinic for three quarters, creating just about everything the Rockets needed offensively with quick dribble-drive moves and his silky lefty jumper. Harden became the first player to drop 30 points on the Nets in a game this season — and did so by the time the third quarter buzzer sounded.
Game Grades: Read ’em here.
Let’s watch that Kevin Garnett headbutt-and-ejection again:
Garnett’s was the first ejection of the season for the Nets, who have lacked that particular combination of combustibility and brashness despite employing the future Hall of Famer. He declined to speak with the media following the game. The Nets locker room was intact, against all odds.
I wonder what's left of our locker room. #KGRules
— Irina Pavlova (@ipavlova) January 13, 2015
Garnett also left Howard a bit shaken: the normally dominant big man finished with just eight points and five rebounds on 3-for-9 shooting. When asked after the game about the scuffle, Howard repeated the mantra that they won the game. When asked about the headbutt, he merely said: “I don’t know. Maybe you should take MMA to see how it feels.”
Other reactions to the ejection:
- Brook Lopez didn’t see the play unfold.
- Joe Johnson expected that Dwight Howard would’ve gotten ejected, too.
- Mason Plumlee: “It escalated so quick, and I don’t see why. There was no hard foul. I’m sure it’ll be replayed a lot tonight on SportsCenter. I didn’t see anything that was dirty until the punch.”
- Rockets coach Kevin McHale, who once famously clotheslined Kurt Rambis: “It looked like they got into a bit of a scrum, and I really didn’t think too much of it. I was watching, but I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Evidently, they threw out Kevin. I didn’t see any punches thrown by either guy, so I really don’t know. … In the good ol’ days, that was a ‘play on’ — now they throw people out. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.”
Shot selection: The Rockets attempted 40 — count ’em, 40 — three-pointers, nine shy of the all-time record for an opponent against the Nets, and got 89 of their 113 points either at the rim, from beyond the arc, or at the free throw line. They only attempted three long two-pointers.
Conversely, the Nets put up 21 three-pointers and hit just five, getting 65 of their 99 points from those same spots. The attempted 18 long two-pointers.
Thus concludes your donk update.
Mason Plumlee, Doin’ Things:
In a night where little went right for the Nets, Mason Plumlee was an exception: the starting center scored a career-high 24 points, adding ten rebounds against Howard, one of the more fearsome big men of this generation. Plumlee got the majority of his points through his usual rim-running ways, but also featured a right hook and even one jumper in the paint.
Plumlee did mess up his audition to be in the Slam Dunk Contest, which will take place in Barclays Center, missing this windmill after a whistle:
Plumlee told The Brooklyn Game after the loss that he’d only tried that dunk after he’d heard the play was stopped, and he knew it wouldn’t count.
The Most Important Mason Plumlee Stat: 4-for-4 on free throws.
Ian Eagle, out of context: “You’re a guy that likes cushions.”
Different directions: Through 38 games this season, the Nets are 16-22. Through 38 games last season, the Nets were… 16-22. Amazing just how different the two teams are: with their schedule ahead, the Nets look like they might be spiraling out of a playoff spot, while last year’s Nets only hit the ground running now.
Bojan Bogdanovic’s night guarding James Harden, in a nutshell:
James Harden is very hard to guard, and Bojan Bogdanovic, despite his efforts, was ill-suited for the task.
Lopez, ranged: Lopez continues his onslaught of mid-range shots, finishing with 12 points on 5-8 shooting, shooting 3-of-6 on attempts 16 feet and further.
“I don’t know,” Lopez told The Brooklyn Game, when asked if that’s where Hollins wants him shooting. “I don’t know what the answer would be. But I feel with the sets we’re running, that’s the situation. I think I’m going to have to focus more being out there when Joe’s in the post, just crashing. Reading when I can go crash the boards, or when I need to get back.”
Next up: The Nets have practice Tuesday before they take on the 26-11 Memphis Grizzlies at Barclays Center Wednesday night.