The 1-8 Brooklyn Nets were a few inches away from pulling off an upset over the undefeated, seemingly unbeatable Golden State Warriors. What the hell just happened?
Well, with the Nets up three and nine seconds left in regulation, Warriors forward Andre Iguodala, who’s shot 62.5% from the free throw line in his Warriors tenure, buried a three-pointer to tie the game. The Nets elected not to foul.
On the other side, the Nets were a Brook Lopez tip-in away, but he just missed it.
Frankly, the game ended there. But it was fun while it lasted, right?
The Brooklyn Nets have an odd primary NBA skill: they have a few players that can make tough, non-quality shots. Brook Lopez’s touch with a hand in his face is among the best in the NBA. Thaddeus Young seems to throw up floaters without looking at the basket that fall through again and again. Joe Johnson makes tough shots often, though he hasn’t much this year. I’m not sure Jarrett Jack has any idea where he is when he shoots sometimes, so defense doesn’t really make much of a difference.
That is somewhat of a backhanded compliment. The Nets are one of the league’s best teams at taking the league’s most inefficient shot. So if there’s such a thing as pounding a team from mid-range, the Nets do — and did — just that: they hit a ridiculous amount of mid-range jumpers and two-pointers (18-for-32 on non-restricted area twos in the first half ain’t no joke), which led to a 15-point first-quarter lead over the 10-0 Golden State Warriors.
That’s not a typo. The 1-8 Brooklyn Nets led the 10-0 Golden State Warriors by 15 points after the first quarter. Then by two after the half. Then by seven — seven! — after three quarters. It was the Nets’ first lead after the third quarter of the season, and it came against the team that routinely turns games into mincemeat between the half and the last 12 minutes.
Though the Nets relied on a fair bit of luck in the first half in hitting that obscene amount of mid-range jumpers, their third-quarter performance was almost more impressive at face value: as a team, the Nets created good shots, ran in transition, and didn’t fall prey to their normal third-quarter woes while running the offense through Jarrett Jack.
You need to be damn near perfect to beat this team — hell, nobody has yet — and the Nets weren’t that. It’s another moral victory in a season that has had way too many of those already. But back-to-back efforts like this weekend’s do prove that this team has a semblance of talent that they haven’t turned into victories yet. Even if they don’t foul when they’re up three down the stretch.
Can’t wait for the Nets to lose by 10 in a good effort against this generation’s best team, I give them a B for it, & everyone yells at me.
— devin kharpertian (@uuords) November 15, 2015
(I was close.)
The stats: 7 PTS, 3-6 FG, 13 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL
This is a minor point in the team’s flurry of issues but his activity is so refreshing. A good NBA team could really use a player like him racing around for loose balls, defending multiple positions, and even hitting a few mid-range jumpers.
The stats: 18 PTS, 8-21 FG, 9 REB, 3 BLK
You won’t remember anything he did this game beyond that missed tip-in, a bunny that goes down 98 out of 100 times but just didn’t fall. There’s no reasoning. You don’t admonish Lopez for a lack of mental toughness, or chastise him for “not wanting it enough.” He just missed it. It happens. It’s painful to watch, but it happens.
Beyond that play: excellent defensive timing for his standards, and at least he got a few touches in the second half.