What a difference a few days and a couple states make, huh? After getting run out of the building on Friday night by 25 points, the Brooklyn Nets looked, for the most part, like a reborn squad. Which, as we’ve seen time and time again this season, may just be a false alarm instead of a sustainable, positive improvement. Basically, what I’m saying here is that the 2015-2016 Brooklyn Nets are a very silly team.
I mean, how else could you explain being 3-11 with your only wins coming against the sixty-win Atlanta Hawks, the former Western Conference runner-ups in the Houston Rockets, and then the team that blasted them in Boston just two days ago? Thus, at the point, I firmly believe that the only way to accurately describe the Brooklyn Nets is through Shel Silverstein poems.
“There are no happy endings.
Endings are the saddest part,
So just give me a happy middle
And a very happy start.”
– Shel Silverstein, Every Thing On It
On Friday, the Nets were merely bystanders to the Celtics’ 43-point second quarter en route to 66-42 halftime lead. Tonight, the roles were reversed and it was a near-perfect half from Brooklyn and, in particular, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson who had four steals, a massive block, and an even more gigantic put-back dunk seconds later. Between him and Shane Larkin, the Nets had the buzz they were missing in Boston.
In the second half, however, the large lead started to slip away, but those crafty veterans figured out a way to finish things out. Thanks to some incredible displays of defensive effort from Thaddeus Young, a few mid-range jumpers by Jarrett Jack, and confident shooting from Joe Johnson, Brooklyn hung on for their third win of the year in a game that the Celtics never lead.
With that being said, buckle up for some very special game grades with the help of the late, great Shel Silverstein and this very silly basketball team.
The stats: 23 PTS, 10-20 FG%, 10 RBS, 1 STL, 1 TO
“Talked my head off
Worked my tail off
Cried my eyes out
Walked my feet off
Sang my heart out
So you see,
There’s really not much left of me.”
– Shel Silverstein
This isn’t particularly new information, but the Brooklyn Nets continue to live and die by Brook Lopez. So, when I wrote on Friday that Lopez looked rather indifferent to the mounting scoreboard, the Nets quickly found themselves dead in the water. In Round 2, however, we saw some quintessential Lopez at the Barclays Center with a bevy of scoops, floaters, and patented jumpers as he nonchalantly put up the type of game that’s expected of him night in and night out now.
It might’ve been quiet, but it was exactly what the Nets needed.
The stats: 9 PTS, 2-3 FG%, 7 RBS, 4 ASTS, 5 STLS, 1 BLK, 1 TO
“Draw a crazy picture,
Write a nutty poem,
Sing a mumble-gumble song,
Whistle through your comb.
Do a loony-goony dance
‘Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain’t been there before.”
― Shel Silverstein
Early on his NBA career, we’ve seen some pretty special stuff from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson but tonight might’ve been his best effort yet. On a night where the Nets could’ve hung their heads after Friday’s beat-down, Hollis-Jefferson brought the energy early on the way to a five-steal night and this steal + block combo. In a perhaps a lost season already, Hollis-Jefferson’s athleticism and growth will likely be the fans’ greatest sense of joy and tonight was an awesome display of that confidence and improvement already.
Long live, Rondae.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) November 22, 2015
The stats: 11 PTS, 4-8 FG%, 12 RBS, 1 AST, 1 STL, 1 TO
She drank from a bottle called DRINK ME
And she grew so tall,
She ate from a plate called TASTE ME
And down she shrank so small.
And so she changed, while other folks
Never tried nothin’ at all.”
With Joe Johnson slumping, the Nets had turned to Thaddeus Young to provide that missing scoring punch and, for a while, he succeeded in ways that probably few expected. However, the Nets still struggled to win. Tonight was a return to the mean for Young, but even his average is better than most and I think most people forget that.
It’s nice to know that if the Nets need Young to go for 30 points, he can. But, it’s also oddly comforting to know that if things are going well, they don’t need much more than that scrappy, tough grinding that has made Young a staple in this league since 2007.
The stats: 17 PTS, 5-10 FG%, 4 RBS, 4 ASTS, 1 STL, 3 TOs
“All The Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
Layin’ In The Sun,
Talkin’ ‘Bout The Things
They Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda Done…
But All Those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
All Ran Away And Hid
From One Little Did.”
– Shel Silverstein
Joe Johnson has seen his fair share of criticisms this season, mostly ranging from: is he done? to can he still be a difference maker on offense? For a while, we were treated to Joe Johnson as a facilitator and he even flirted with a triple-double last week in Brooklyn’s win over Atlanta. However, there’s no denying the Nets are at their very best when Johnson is hitting three-pointers and shooting with confidence. Tonight, we got that Joe as he fired with the same type of reckless abandon from downtown that have the Nets got accustomed to since moving to Brooklyn.
This is not to say that the Nets are suddenly playoff contenders, but for one night, Johnson shrugged off the struggles, cold streaks, and unfiltered judgements to do exactly what this franchise has missed.
The stats: 5 PTS, 2-5 FG%, 3 RBS, 1 STL, 2 BLKS
“I’ve found my missin’ piece
So grease my knees and fleece my bees
I’ve found my missin’ piece!”
– Shel Silverstein
Through the first thirteen games, there have been loads of questions, mostly born from frustration, like: What’s wrong with Bojan Bogdanovic? Or where did Joe Johnson go? But, more than anything, I’ve heard more dismayed cries about Hollins’ affinity for Andrea Bargnani at backup center instead of Thomas Robinson.
Tonight, we saw what the rebounding-power forward can bring to the table over an energetic second quarter. In that ten minute stretch alone, Robinson scored 5 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, and 2 blocks. Although he’s a little bit limited offensively, his energy is Reggie Evans-esque, which, for a team that slogs through moments every night, should probably be better utilized.
The stats: 12 PTS, 6-9 FG%, 3 RBS, 1 BLK, 1 TO
“There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
‘I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.’
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you–just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.”
– Shel Silverstein
Andrea Bargnani, with less than ten dribbles of the basketball, scored twelve points. This poem is presented without further comment.