Two days ago, the Nets’ biggest problems enveloped almost everything under the sun; by Sunday, somehow, things had gotten even worse and they hadn’t even played the 32-6 San Antonio Spurs yet.
Following the dismissal of Lionel Hollins and reassignment of Billy King during brunch, a Nets franchise was launched headlong into the final stage of dysfunction: acceptance. Tony Brown was named Interim Head Coach and, without much of a wait, the Nets embarked on their latest adventure in a line of misadventures.
They say that teams find a sense of responsibility after their coach is fired, that oh-so semi-mythical-but-never-disproven post-firing bump. For the Nets, however, it was a more like post-firing valley.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that Brooklyn didn’t react with a new sense of urgency following Hollins’ exit, the Spurs are just the best franchise in sports over the last twenty years — what can you do about it?
So, not exactly a recipe for success in Brown’s first game at the helm and, yet, this was far from a lost cause. Sure, their defense is still mostly suspect and the three-point shooting hasn’t entered the 21st century, but was this a Nets team, gulp, worth cheering for?
Brook Lopez, who has gone long stretches without shooting in the past, shot 20 times and helped the Nets hang around longer than they probably should have. And Donald Sloan, now the team’s first-choice point guard, followed up his 10-assist performance by helping out a team-high 5 times tonight.
And yet, the more things change, the more things stay the same:
- Bench Scoring: 26 points (Spurs, 49)
- Three-Pointers Made: 2-12 (Spurs, 4-13
- Turnovers: 19 (Spurs, 12)
Still, despite the, you know, massive gulf in talent between Lopez, Young, Sloan and the Spurs’ starting lineup of five (probable) Hall of Famers, this wasn’t a completely lost effort.
There was (some) ball movement, a semi-rejuvenation of the man they call Joe Johnson, and all 12 played as Tony Brown tried to carve out his own rotation moving forward. Sloan showed that he was capable of facilitating an offense and Thomas Robinson proved that he’ll hustle in whatever role he’s given.
This was never going to be pretty for Brooklyn, but they may have figured out some valuable knowledge in the process. Admittedly, Brown was dealt a tough hand going against Pop & Co. in his first game as it eventually devolved into the Boban Marjanovic show, but this grass is definitely greener, don’t worry.
The stats: 18 PTS, 8-17 FG%, 5 RBS, 2 ASTS, 2 BLKS, 1 TO
On one hand: 23 points, 23 FGAs, just three shots than Brook Lopez’s last two games combined (26).
On the other: Lopez struggled inside against the likes of Tim Duncan and Boris Diaw, didn’t rebound particularly well, and continued to pick up some frustrating fouls.
With the Knicks coming on Wednesday, maybe he’s saving all the rebounds for Robin?