Two days ago, the Brooklyn Nets improved to 10-49 after holding on for victory against the Sacramento Kings. At the same time, the 37-24 record-owning Utah Jazz were getting absolutely smothered against Minnesota. With the Nets still looking for their first winning streak of the season, there was a general optimism hanging about the visitor’s hopes out west.
And yet, the more things change, the more things stay the same — that’s the saying, right?
More often than not, the Jazz look primed to reach the NBA’s second round this spring and Gordon Hayward, who scored 30 against the Nets in November, blossoms further into stardom with each passing game. Admittedly, the Nets fell into many of the same traps as usual — Lin struggled to chase the speedy, crafty George Hill around the perimeter; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was at a huge disadvantage against the looming Derrick Favors; Brook Lopez tried to do it all — but they kept attempting to dig out of their early hole.
When all was said and done in the first quarter, the Jazz shot 65% from the floor and Hill and Favors combined for 25 points on a perfect 8-8 display — which is to say, not exactly a recipe for success. Topping it all off was a step-back, contested three-point attempt by Trevor Booker midway through the second quarter that did little to help their comeback cause, an ominous sign for the second half to come.
Given their typical troubles with turnovers, a first half total of just five giveaways seems like a little victory in and of itself — unfortunately, the Nets couldn’t click at a reasonably consistent pace, both offensively and defensively. Almost inexplicably, the Nets trailed by just 5 points with 1:33 left in the half, but it never quite felt like it was anything but a detour.
12 minutes later, the lead for Utah had swelled to as much as 19 — an indication of the Nets’ ultimate hopelessness, effort withstanding. Basically, you’ve heard and read this story an infinite amount of times this season already, but that doesn’t make it less true: they work really hard, the difference in talent is just unmistakable.
While the window dressing of a fourth quarter finally gave onlookers their first true look at K.J. McDaniels, it was an overall boring product from Brooklyn tonight. Typically when the Nets are overmatched, they battle and surge for a few key minutes — in Utah, however, there was little suspense in the inevitable result even from the opening tip-off.
And that’ll happen, so I promise this is no overarching, long-season gripe bubbling to the surface, it just doesn’t make for much fun on a Friday night.
TL;DR: the Jazz are really good at basketball — that’s it, that’s all.
The stats: 5 PTS, 2-5 FG, 3 REB, 3 AST, 2 TOV
Spencer Dinwiddie played well.
From the Nets’ PR squad at halftime:
In his last 7 games (including tonight), Spencer Dinwiddie (3 assists and no turnovers tonight) has recorded 33 assists and just 1 turnover.
The stats: 17 PTS, 5-13 FG, 5 REB, 2 BLKS, 1 BLK
Generally speaking, this was not a bad game for Brook Lopez. It was… objective fine, particularly so when compared to much of his compatriots.