Good morning! The Nets played the Spurs last night. So here’s what happened:
What happened: The Brooklyn Nets took on the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio. That should probably be enough. (The Nets lost, 99-87.)
Where they stand: At 5-8, the Nets fall into a tie for second place in the Atlantic Division with the 4-7 Boston Celtics.
That was… JV versus varsity.
This game was a lesson in everything the Nets want to be, but can only watch from the other side. Big man Tim Duncan throwing touch passes to teammates for dunks. Their small forward streaking down the floor to put down layups. A crisp, fluid offense that comes with parts experience and excellence, a team-first function that passes up good shots for perfect ones.
The Nets had their chances in the second half, even cutting the lead to single-digits in the fourth quarter. But they never really had a shot, not against a Spurs team that picked apart the paint and seemingly found open corner 3’s at will.
Game Grades: Read ’em here.
A tale of two big men: Back in 2010, when Brook Lopez was still learning the NBA game instead of re-learning it, the Nets seven-footer was often compared to the man he played against tonight, future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan. Shaquille O’Neal saw similarities, and former Nets coach Avery Johnson brought up Duncan in Lopez’s development.
But old-school-old-school Duncan dominated the new-school-old-school Lopez inside and out, doing a little bit of everything en route to a unique game even for Duncan standards: seven points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, four blocks, three steals, and no turnovers in 25 minutes. It was the first time in the 38-year-old Duncan’s career that he put up those kind of numbers, and it was a clinic in a host of things Lopez has struggled to do, not just tonight but in his career.
Lopez, who finished the game with just six points and four rebounds in 25 minutes, declined to speak with the media.
Despite us waiting for nearly 10 minutes by his locker as he got dressed, Brook Lopez rose up and said, "Alright, guys" and declined to talk
— Rod Boone (@rodboone) November 23, 2014
Here is a list of Nets players that out-rebounded Brook Lopez (4): Mirza Teletovic (8), Alan Anderson (7), Jarrett Jack (6), Deron Williams (5), Jerome Jordan (5). Two of those players are point guards, a third is a shooting guard, and a fourth played in roughly half his minutes.
It would be unfair to draw this comparison if Lopez was doing the little things to help team rebounding, or if this seemed like it was part of his re-integration to the team’s schemes. But he’s always been a poor rebounder, and it just appears he’s gotten worse: the Nets grab their fewest rebounds with him on the court than anyone else.
Two-man game: Deron Williams & Mirza Teletovic combined for 46 points on 18-35 (51.4%) shooting. The rest of the Nets? 41 points, on 16-56 (28.6%) shooting.
Ryan Ruocco & The Undisputed Highlight Of The Night:
This might be a little esoteric if you don’t watch the game on YES Network (and if so, what are you doing!? WATCH THE GAME ON YES NETWORK). Mike Fratello has been a Nets color commentator for the last seven seasons. During most games, when the Nets look ahead on the schedule, Fratello (nicknamed the “Czar of the Telestrator”) will draw poorly designed, often absurdist stick figures and ask his play-by-play mate to guess what he’s drawing.
Usually it’s impossible to guess, because he makes humans look like sandwiches and rockets look like sizzling hot fajitas. But Ruocco gets all five of Fratello’s drawings correct, the first time any play-by-play guy has ever gone five-for-five.
In case you’re wondering why that’s such a highlight, just listen to the pure ecstasy in each of their voices with each passing correct answer. And in case you’re wondering about how well the Nets played, I’ve just spent almost 200 words of a Nets recap talking about Mike Fratello’s artwork.
Deron Williams gave a damn:
With the rest of the Nets struggling, Deron Williams put up another solid performance, dropping 24 points on 10-21 shooting, including 10 in the second quarter with the Nets losing ground quickly. Williams still looks quick, and other than a brief scary moment when Williams hit the floor after banging knees with Tony Parker, it was another successful individual night for the Nets point guard.
Jarrett Jack, Scufflin’:
Jack took exception to some unruly contact from Spurs backup center Aron Baynes (a name Lionel Hollins struggled to recognize after the game), and earned a technical foul after getting in his face about it.
NBA debut: Markel Brown, he of the 44-inch vertical, made his NBA debut in garbage time, rattling in a three-pointer for his first points ever. I would like to see more minutes for Markel Brown.
Back up: Mason Plumlee continued his tumble down Lionel Hollins’s depth chart, sitting the entire second half in favor of Jerome Jordan and Cory Jefferson after missing all three of his shots in the first half.
Across the river: The New York Knicks defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, who only qualify as a basketball team legally, 91-83.
Next up: The Nets have three whole days off, before they travel to Philadelphia to take on the aforementioned NBA-team-in-name-only 76ers, who have yet to win an NBA game this season in 13 tries.