The Morning After: Nets Downed By Superior Spurs

Kawhi Leonard (right) & the Spurs were just too much for Thaddeus Young & the Nets. (AP)

Kawhi Leonard (right) & the Spurs were just too much for Thaddeus Young & the Nets. (AP)
Kawhi Leonard (right) & the Spurs were just too much for Thaddeus Young & the Nets. (AP)

Good morning Russell! A brief note: we’ll only have The Morning After following some games, depending on the nature of the game. Some games will deserve it, others will require different forms of coverage. No matter what, the goal is quality, and that’s for you, Russ.

Here’s everything you need to know about Nets-Spurs:

What happened: The Nets watched a 10-point second-quarter lead evaporate while playing the far superior San Antonio Spurs, and fell 102-75 at AT&T Center in San Antonio.

Where they stand: At 0-2, the Nets are tied for the worst record in NBA history.

That was… Beautiful in the first half, ugly in the second. Behind strong minutes from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Shane Larkin, and Andrea Bargnani, the Nets took over in the second quarter, leading by as much as ten midway through the second.

But the Nets only scored 28 points in the second half as the Spurs, who scored 34 points in the third quarter alone, cruised to the victory behind a balanced scoring effort and their requisite ball movement.

Undefeated update: The Nets are undefeated in November.

Game Grades: Read ’em here.

Teachable Moments: Late in the fourth quarter, Nets coach Lionel Hollins called a timeout after a poor play, and used the opportunity to light into his team about their mistakes. It wasn’t a time for Hollins to try to win the night’s game, it was a moment for Hollins to instill principles — the most elucidated being “PASS THE F—ING BALL!”

The Nets finished with just 17 assists to the Spurs’ 23, with only six in the second half.

Jack Back: After missing four straight practices and the season’s opening night, Jarrett Jack returned to the starting lineup. His first made shot was a contested mid-range jumper. It wouldn’t be his last.

Jack had some solid moments overall, finishing with 12 points (hitting two three-pointers), seven assists, and six rebounds, and only went too far down the experimentation wormhole when things got out of hand.

David West, Barrel:

The YES Network feed showed a later replay of this that made it seem as though the lean-in was a shade intentional. I won’t pretend to rent space in David West’s brain, but I will say that he’s not someone who hides his true feelings, so his legitimate chagrin at being called for a charge makes me think he wasn’t being a malcontent.

Donny Marshall, Out of Context: “You go to the store, and it looks like a bushel of bananas.”

Andrea Bargnani: Loves that elbow jumper.

My thoughts at the half: This can’t last, right? This can’t last.

It did not last.

Photo of the night: Lionel Hollins’s B-Boy Stance.

Brooklyn Nets head coach Lionel Hollins argues a call with referee John Goble in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Friday, Oct. 30, 2015, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Bahram Mark Sobhani)

Little Things: A common refrain for this Nets season is development; the team has to look for the little things they can tinker with and improve on for years to come. The team is not going to compete for a championship, they’ll struggle to make it in the playoff race, and that makes the focus different from a team like, say, the San Antonio Spurs, where the window is now.

Here’s one refreshing development that could have a big impact down the line: Brook Lopez’s potentially newfound passing. Lopez dished out four assists — all in the first half, and all for layups.

A sharp passing game also has value beyond just even the pass. Early in the game, the Spurs aggressively doubled Lopez as soon as he caught the ball in the post. In past years, that would mean Brook Lopez takes a tough shot through a double-team. Friday, he found teammates for layups.

But in the second half, Lopez caught the ball in the post, and Leonard only gave Lopez a quick “stunt” instead of a hard double. He then played the middle, keeping one eye on Lopez and the other on Hollis-Jefferson. We can now confirm that Leonard does not possess the Third Eye, or it would’ve kept an eye on his feet in the paint, and he could’ve avoided the three-second violation.

Lopez’s four assists were more than he had in any game last year, save one. It’s the little things.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Doin’ Things:

Hollis-Jefferson had some offensive highlights — two pretty reverse layups, some nice cuts to the basket — but this was his best stand of the night: a complete shutdown of Kawhi Leonard. Just nowhere for Leonard, a former Finals MVP, to go, and it ends in a travel.

Would You Love Me If I Was Down? The Nets lost their thirteenth straight game in San Antonio and dropped to 4-39 all-time in the regular season against the Spurs on the road. The Nets haven’t beaten the Spurs in San Antonio since June 6, 2003, in Game 2 of that year’s NBA Finals. The number one song in the U.S. on that day was 50 Cent’s “21 Questions.” It’s not clear at this time if 50 was talking about the Nets.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Learnin’ Things:

This steal came exactly one minute after Hollis-Jefferson’s stop. “You want to know what it’s like to play against Kawhi Leonard? Just try to dribble through a barbed-wire fence.” Welcome to the NBA, Mr. Hollis-Jefferson.

Next up: The Nets don’t have a relaxing opening weekend. They take on the grit-n-grind Memphis Grizzlies of Lionel Hollins past in Memphis Saturday night.