Monday Musings – MLK Day

The Nets have been in another awful slump. They’ve lost 10 of their last 11 and now sit at 10-30 through nearly half of the season. The biggest story surrounding this team has been taking place off the court, with the whole Carmelo Anthony saga, and from an outsider’s point of view, it probably looks like that is affecting the Nets play. Since the three-way trade rumors with the Nuggets and Pistons became public last weekend, the team has lost three in a row, two of them by double digits. But before we all jump to conclusions that this trade is affecting the team’s play, let’s take a closer look at this past week’s games.

The Nets should have won their game at Phoenix last Wednesday, no doubt about it. They outplayed the Suns and had a 15-point lead in the 4th quarter. But they were unable to finish the game and got dominated in overtime. That doesn’t mean they were distracted and not ready to play. Devin Harris had an especially strong first quarter and led the Nets to 28 points in the opening period. They were in a position to win this game and get the road trip off to a fast start. However the effort in that game showed me the Nets did come out ready to play.

Friday night in Los Angeles the Nets put forth another solid effort. Brook Lopez bounced back from a rough night in Phoenix with 35 points on 13 of 19 shooting. The Nets lost by 12 but it was a two-point game midway through the fourth quarter, so the final score was not exactly indicative of the entire game. With the way they lost the game last Wednesday in Phoenix, I wrote that I thought Friday night in LA could get ugly. But again the team was ready to play from the start and did not get embarrassed against one of the best teams in the NBA.

And then we come to Saturday night’s game, another the Nets should have won. They had a one-point lead with under 2 minutes remaining and again were unable to finish. Lopez was fantastic again with 32 points (though he had just 3 boards, shocker) and the Nets got a strong performance off the bench from Sasha Vujacic. Yet to no one’s surprise the Nets left Portland with another loss, their fifth in a row.

Throughout this entire, frustrating season the Nets have been unable to finish games. They have played opponents’ close, often times some of the best teams in the NBA, for 40-45 minutes and then faded down the stretch. But I refuse to believe that these last three losses have anything to do with the Anthony trade hanging over their heads. Overall it’s not a good thing that these trade talks continue, but I don’t see it having a big effect on the team as of yet. If they were getting blown out of the building and not even competing, it would be one thing, but they are keeping these games close and should have actually won two of the first three on the road trip.

I will keeping an eye on their effort today in Golden State and hoping it’s the same as in the first three games of this Western swing…