Just that kind of night.
What happened: The Nets debuted their stars-and-stripes jerseys to a loss, falling 108-100 in overtime to the Phoenix Suns at Barclays Center.
Where they stand: The loss plunges the Nets further down the Eastern Conference playoff race. At 25-35, they’re now 1.5 games behind the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat for the eighth seed.
That was… Can you call something a meltdown if it came pre-melted?
The first half may have been the worst half of basketball the Nets have been involved in all season — on both ends, for both teams. Open shots at the rim bounced away. Simple passes and dribble moves became exhausting chores. Both the Nets and the Suns appeared to have an active interest in failure, and outside of a few moments of athletic clarity in the second quarter, the two slogged to a 50-46 Suns halftime lead.
On the night, the Nets shot 21-for-55 in the paint, 11-for-32 in the restricted area, and committed 20 turnovers Friday night. In a game they never should’ve been in, the Suns took it one step further, missing their first 21 three-pointers and allowing the Nets to extend a third-quarter lead beyond a hot-shooting Bojan Bogdanovic.
But after taking that surprise 15-point lead with 5:45 left, fueled by rookies Cory Jefferson and Bojan Bogdanovic, the Nets missed their final seven shots and committed four turnovers in regulation, and a 16-1 Suns run forced overtime, where Bogdanovic threw away their last gasp.
“We got stagnant throughout the game,” Williams said. “It’s not like they came out here and just hung a whole bunch of points on us. We played well defensively, we just couldn’t score. There was a big part of the game when we were missing layups, and (tips), and pretty much everything around the basket.”
Game Grades: Read ’em here.
Iso(lated on the bench)-Joe: On the final possession of regulation, Lionel Hollins elected not to enter former crunch-time machine Joe “Jesus” Johnson into the game, keeping him on the bench as Jarrett Jack and Thaddeus Young ran a pick-and-roll. Jack rimmed out a 20-footer — not unlike the shot he’d buried Monday night to win the game against the Golden State Warriors — and the Nets ran out of gas in overtime.
“I was gonna spread the court and we were gonna run a pick-and-roll,” Hollins said of the final play. “And we did — we got a good shot, and (Jack) missed it.”
Some Nets were surprised that Johnson sat. “You would think Joe would be out there in those situations,” Williams said. “but you know, coach has to go with what he feels like. I’m sure he has an explanation for it. As professionals, that’s what we’ve got to live with.”
Johnson got a modicum of revenge in overtime, hitting a fadeaway isolation jumper in the first minute and later getting a floater to fall.
For a large stretch of the fourth quarter, this was Cory Jefferson’s night.
With the Nets needing to extend a lead quickly acquired from the aforementioned Bogdanovic three-point barrage, they called on Jefferson to provide a quick spark. And a quick spark he did provide, chasing down offensive rebounds with ferocity, throwing down the above jam, and hitting perhaps the most unlikely shot in NBA history, banging the ball off the side of the backboard and into the basket. It’s the first highlight in the reel below.
Note that every highlight in that reel came in a rapid six-minute span during the end of the third and middle of the fourth quarter.
“(I’m) just going in there and doing my job,” Jefferson said. “doing my job for the team, doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Rebounding, making a bunch of plays, 50-50 balls, and everything else like that.”
But in the waning moments, there was little Jefferson could do: the Nets looked to their guards to create shots in crunch time in regulation, and Jefferson did not play in the entire overtime.
Rumors Be Damned, He’s Still Here: In his sixth minute, Brook Lopez passed former Nets center Jason Collins for 10th all-time in minutes played wearing a Nets uniform, and later passed Derrick Coleman for eighth on the team’s all-time scoring list.
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Lopez has survived six[note]Eight if you count Tom Barrise and Joe Prunty, who each served two-game stints, the former following Lawrence Frank’s firing and the latter following Jason Kidd’s two-game suspension for a DUI arrest.[/note] coaches, two general managers, three arenas in three cities, two team names, three below-the-knee surgeries, countless trade rumors, and two names for an ESPN blog turned YES Network affiliate.
End It: Most of the Nets warmed up in shirts supporting the “End It Movement,” which aims to recognize and eliminate modern-day slavery. The movement is symbolized by a red “X”, which the Nets donned on gray and red t-shirts.
Three Years Of The Brooklyn Nets, Illustrated In One Five-Second Sequence:
A flashy, brilliant start, a sudden thud, a brief moment of hope where it all seemed perfect, a shocking misstep, followed by a trap under the basket into a dead end.
The Latest Exhibit In Markel Brown’s Dunking Museum:
Brown didn’t have his best game, only playing under seven minutes on the night. Still, Hollins said he had no interest in changing up his starting lineup. “We played well out of the gate many times, so that’s not one of our issues,” Hollins said.
Next up: The Nets stick in Brooklyn for their fourth in a five-game homestand, taking on Deron Williams’s former Utah Jazz Sunday night.