With the Nets down 103-98 and 36 seconds left, Lionel Hollins wanted his team to foul the Miami Heat and stop the clock.
“It wasn’t the decision (not to foul),” Hollins said following the 104-98 loss. “I told them we needed to foul. I mean, come on. The guys — you’ve got to foul. I got caught looking at something else, and when I looked over, everybody’s looking at me. That kind of stuff happens.”
Except his Brooklyn Nets didn’t know that.
“(When) they dribble(d) the clock out?” Lopez asked. “I don’t know. Maybe it was just miscommunication. We can’t really have that, obviously. That kills you at the end of games. We’ve obviously got to be better in that area.”
Jarrett Jack, who put his hands up in confusion while looking at the bench during the play, laid blame on “both sides.”
“I wasn’t guarding the ball at that point, but whatever message was trying to get sent to us, we’ve got to receive it better and send it better, so both of us on both sides,” Jack said. “But then as players, I think we should do a better job of knowing time and score, understanding the situation. So even if you didn’t hear the signal, just knowing what’s necessary at that particular moment.”
Joe Johnson was less descriptive, and focused more on the late-game offense. “I don’t even remember (that play), honestly. … I think we know what needs to be done. It’s coming down the stretch we have a tendency to second-guess ourselves. Rather than taking the shots we’ve been taking throughout the whole game, it’s like in the fourth quarter when we get those looks, we hesitate. I don’t know why.”
Neither Lopez, Jack, nor Johnson guarded the ball — that was Bojan Bogdanovic. Bogdanovic looked back at the bench numerous times during those seconds, trying to suss out what the team wanted him to do. As mentioned, Jack also appears unclear on the directive, looking at the bench and raising his arms in confusion. The Nets played out the possession, and 36 seconds fell to 11.7.
The Nets were likely doomed to lose by that point anyway: they were down by two possessions with little time left, and stopping the clock only served as a last desperate attempt to delay the inevitable. A vintage Dwyane Wade night (28 points, 13-17 FG) did them in long before they didn’t foul.
But it’s not the first time the Nets have had a miscommunication late in a close game. Hollins said he wanted them to foul when up by three against the Golden State Warriors, and nobody did then, either. The Nets were also called for a five-second violation against the Los Angeles Lakers on a close & late possession.
“We’ve just got to communicate,” Thaddeus Young said. “Talk it out, and just pay attention in timeouts. That’s all.”
The Nets fell to 7-18 following the loss, second-to-last in the Eastern Conference.