Despite their ugly 14-19 record heading into the game, the Miami Heat are a dangerous team with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh both fully healthy. Those two on the floor take advantage of two of Brooklyn’s biggest weaknesses: bigs that can spread the floor and wing scorers matched up with Sergey Karasev.
The Nets fell behind early from the effects of those two, plus Hassan Whiteside swatting just about everything in sight, and despite a late run, couldn’t close the gap quickly enough to earn the victory.
The ugly moments were there: isolations throughout the second half, a few key missed defensive assignments, poor shooting from deep, and a few careless turnovers.
Curiously, Hollins elected to keep Mason Plumlee on the bench for the entirety of the fourth quarter. Lopez was playing well and the Lopez-Plumlee tandem has struggled, but the Nets could’ve used Plumlee’s athleticism guarding Chris Bosh down the stretch.
This was a winnable game for the Nets, and they let it slip away. Now, a much more difficult test comes down the pike Monday night, when Rajon Rondo’s Dallas Mavericks come to Brooklyn.
There’s a delicate balance between regaining your NBA legs (which requires stretching your comfort zone) and playing detrimental basketball, and Lopez just about snapped that tightrope.
After Lopez tossed up a fading, 16-foot shot that was heavily double-teamed in the fourth quarter, missing badly, leading to a Heat transition layup, Lionel Hollins called a time-out and lit into Lopez for the ensuing minute.
Lopez was smarter after that moment, taking only open shots or shots at the rim, helping buoy Brooklyn’s fourth-quarter comeback. But Lopez was also beaten to spots by unheralded prospect Hassan Whiteside.