Nets Playoff Positioning Takes Blow In Big Loss

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What happened: The Nets fell apart in the second half against the Milwaukee Bucks, falling 96-73 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.

Where they stand: At 37-43, the Nets look destined for eighth. After the Boston Celtics dominated a Cleveland Cavaliers team resting four starters, the Nets are now one game behind the Celtics for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference with two games to play. Since the Celtics own the tiebreaker, the Nets would have to win outright and the Celtics lose outright for the Nets to leapfrog them in the standings.

That was… Clang… clang… clang. The Nets missed nearly everything outside the paint, shooting a season-low 32.5 percent from the field and an abhorrent 6-for-34 (17.6 percent) from outside the paint, and one of those was this soccer-inbounds pass.

The Bucks played solid swarm-and-react defense, but the Nets also missed numerous wide open shots; there’s a certain irony to the Nets getting great process and zero results against their former coach who made “it’s a process” into a daily refrain.

A back-and-forth game turned ugly as both teams stalled in a sloppy second quarter, but the Nets kept the foot on the brake in the third, missing their first nine shots and committing three turnovers before Bojan Bogdanovic broke the seal with two fast-break layups. But the Bucks had built a double-digit lead that stretched to as much as 29, and the Nets never threatened again.

Game Grades: Read ’em here.

Brook Lopez Says It All Without A Word:

Nothing encapsulated Brooklyn’s distraught more than Brook Lopez, who did the above shortly before Lionel Hollins benched his starters to rest for Monday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls. We’ve talked about the general goofiness of Brook Lopez’s facial expressions before, but this is almost sad: Lopez can’t escape his own fraught emotions, nearly tearing his jersey in the process.

RELATED GALLERY: Just 11 Photos Of Brook Lopez

Lopez scored just 12 points (3-8 FG, 6-7 FT) in the loss, and though he added ten rebounds and passed Jason Kidd for fourth on the all-time Nets franchise scoring list, looked outmatched against Zaza Pachulia.


Kidd became the first coach in NBA history to lead two different teams to the playoffs in his first two years as a head coach.

Bojan Backdoorovic: Bogdanovic might be the best cutter on this Nets team: he just has a keen sense of when defenders aren’t looking. A great example came in the first quarter, when Bogdanovic slunk backdoor on the left wing for an easy layup after a feed from Deron Williams.

Unfortunately Bogdanovic was bitten by the same poor-shooting bug as the rest of the team, hitting just four of 11 shots and one of four three-pointers on the night.

Don’t Mess With The Johnson: Bucks fans tried an old trick early in the game on Joe Johnson, beginning the arena-wide shot clock countdown well before the clock actually hit zero. But Johnson was unfazed, as he might actually be a robot, waited for the fans to count themselves out before driving and hitting a layup.

By the way: not kidding about the robot part. “It’s almost like my skin peeling open. My skin peeled back, and inside, I’m like a machine.” Johnson also talks about keeping a mental note of the shot clock in there, if you’re curious.

Advance Scout Ronald McDonald:

If they replace the Hamburglar, Giannis Antetokounmpo is a natural fit for the job.

Mascots Are Not The Only Lopez Target:

Former Nets guard Jorge Gutierrez, who Kidd lobbied for when he was Nets coach, just signed on for a multi-year (non-guaranteed deal) under Kidd with the Bucks. Brook Lopez has led the Nets on anti-mascot crusades in the past, but they’ve never targeted a former player. Gutierrez took it well, but didn’t play until garbage time, perhaps to rest all those injuries sustained from a senseless gang-up.

Brook Bests Kidd: It took three quarters and a 20-foot jumper from the right wing, but Brook Lopez did in fact pass Jason Kidd on the all-time Nets franchise scoring list, finishing the day with 7,377 career points. It was the smallest of victories in an otherwise loss-filled day.

Next up: The final Brooklyn back-to-back of the season looms: they’ll travel home to New York following Sunday’s game for a Monday night contest against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center, one of two games left on the season. It remains to be seen if the Bulls, who are safely in the playoffs but are not on a back-to-back, choose to rest their starters in preparation for the playoffs.