Good morning! The 76ers set a record for awfulness against the Nets. Here’s all you need to know:
What happened: After playing the league’s worst team roughly even for 24 minutes, the Brooklyn Nets held the tanking Philadelphia 76ers to just 25 second-half points, winning handily 88-70.
Where they stand: The win snaps a three-game losing streak in which they were outscored by 70 points, bumping the Nets to 9-12 on the season. They’re currently eighth in the Eastern Conference playoff race, seven games behind the division-leading Toronto Raptors and one game behind former coach Jason Kidd’s sixth-seeded Milwaukee Bucks.
That was… Ugly throughout, with flashes of greatness. The 76ers are legitimately an awful team, but the Nets bottled up the inside, holding the 76ers to just 9-33 shooting from the paint. “Going 9-33 from the paint is hard to do,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said after the game.
Both teams slumped out to a slow start, with the Nets getting wishy-washy with their flex offense and the 76ers turning the ball over like there was a secret under it. The 76ers started hitting three-pointers at a surprising rate, with Robert Covington hitting four of five and the team as a whole notching 24 points from beyond the arc in the first half. But the 76ers couldn’t keep that streak of luck running, and when they stopped scoring from the outside, they stopped scoring at all.
Undefeated update: The Nets are undefeated against the league’s worst team.
Game Grades: Read ’em here.
WELCOME BACK, !EELMULP NOSAM:
Plumlee became known around these parts for his tendency to put up reverse dunks and layups all the time last season, with the nickname “!EELMULP NOSAM” accompanying these behind-the-back buckets. But Plumlee had, for some reason, dropped the reverse from his arsenal through Brooklyn’s first 20 games, taking very few attempts at reverse rim shots and not making a single one.
But in a game where Plumlee played the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) rule to a T, he got back to his most basic of basics: the reverse Plumlee. After some struggles, Plumlee said he spoke with Nets coach Lionel Hollins yesterday about his role. “There had been some stuff in the media, and I just said, look, you’ve given me an opportunity, and it’s on me now. I’m not looking for anything else. It’s on me. I appreciate the opportunity you’ve given me and you’ve put me in a position to succeed.”
Plumlee finished with 18 points on 9-14 shooting, all in the paint. But Hollins isn’t convinced just yet of his turnaround. “It was good, and he came out and backed up what he said. He has to do that game after game after game to make me a believer.”
Record-Setting Awfulness: The 76ers converted just 11 two-point field goals in the game, the fewest in NBA history by a team since the advent of the shot clock. That’s fewer than one every four minutes. Mason Plumlee had nine two-point field goals in this game by himself.
The Game Deron Williams Needs To Have: Over the summer, Kobe Bryant said in reference to an 0-9 night by Williams that he’d rather go 0-30 than 0-9, because only taking nine shots means you psyched yourself out of the game.
Williams responded candidly, saying “If I’m 0-for-f**king-9, I’m not shooting 20 more shots. Not going to happen. I’m a point guard. I’m going to find somebody else.”
After a nearly identical night, going 0-8 from the field in the 88-70 win, Williams found another spot to take a playful dig at Bryant’s comment. “It was just one of those nights where the ball wouldn’t fall in the basket. Guess I should’ve shot about 20 more shots,” Williams said with a smile.
It was the type of game Williams promised he’d have if he was having a poor shooting night. While Bryant might choose to shoot his way out of (or further into) the slump, Williams kept the ball moving, finishing the game with 10 assists and three steals. Most of Williams’s assists came at shots going towards the basket, and his effective passing attack helped keep the Nets afloat even as they struggled with Philadelphia’s perimeter-oriented attack.
“Our ball movement was great tonight,” Williams said. “We had 25 assists, and got a lot of opportunities out of the pick-and-roll. (Mason Plumlee) played great out of the pick-and-roll, and had a big night for us.”
Cory Jefferson, Gettin’ Comfortable: It could’ve been a rough night for the rookie, two days removed from a shot so bad it ranked as the #1 play in ESPN’s “Not Top Plays” in sports of the week.
But Jefferson bounced back well, putting down some nice dunks inside and swatting three shots, most emphatically this one here:
Jefferson didn’t make a jumper, but you can see the potential: he’s got a smooth form and release, and he’s athletic enough to play above the rim inside on both ends of the floor.
“He was comfortable tonight,” Lionel Hollins said. “Usually young players are more comfortable at home, and he was comfortable. Once he got his feet wet, he played with more confidence and athleticism, especially on the glass against a team that was playing small. He was one of the bigger guys out there and he was one of the better athletes out there. His rebounding was huge when he was in the game, and his shotblocking as well.”
Jefferson finished with six points, seven rebounds, and three blocks in 28 minutes.
BK Connected: Here’s YES Network’s pregame segment #BKConnect, with myself, Rod Boone, and YES Network’s Chris Shearn, talking Nets trades and Nets fit.
Next up: The Nets don’t have much time to rest: they’ll face the Charlotte Hornets in Charlotte Sunday night. Jarrett Jack flew a private jet to Georgia Friday night for an 8:00 A.M. graduation ceremony, where he’ll walk to get his degree in Business Management from Georgia Tech. He is expected to play in Charlotte that night. He does not expect to sleep.