Even the best-laid plans can fall apart if you can’t make a layup in the fourth quarter.
The Nets picked up contributions from their rotation players new and old, but struggled with help defense, allowing Tyreke Evans to create out of the pick-and-roll and leaving one too many shooters open for three-pointers, right down to the final Quincy Pondexter dagger with 49.9 seconds left.
For a stretch lasting over five minutes in the fourth quarter, the Nets couldn’t convert a single field goal, and a one-point deficit ballooned to double-digits. A valiant effort followed, and big plays by Deron Williams, Alan Anderson, and Joe Johnson helped shrink the deficit, but it was too little, too late.
The game marked a big chance for the Nets to steal their third straight victory on the road against a supremely undermanned Pelicans squad. But instead, the Nets head into a tough weekend with a loss under their belts.
The stats: 15 PTS, 7-14 FG, 7 REB, 4 BLK
Easy early offense for Lopez, who seems more content to go inside and find easy garbage points and shots in the paint than ever, but struggled to create in the second half, scoring a grand total of zero points in the frame.
About a month ago, I profiled Lopez’s diminishing inside scoring — since then, there’s been a complete turnaround: Lopez has attacked the paint early and often. If only the second half looked like the first.