It was all well and good for the Nets (0-2) after one half of play, but things sure got away from them quickly last night. After building a 47-41 halftime lead over the San Antonio Spurs (1-1), the Nets ran into a wall marred by missed shots, poor rebounding, and shoddy defense, leading to an embarrassing 60-28 second-half deficit.
With rebounding already a key preseason concern, the Nets lost the battle on the glass by a handy 56-32, led by the formidable frontcourt of LaMarcus Aldridge (11 rebounds), Kawhi Leonard (10 rebounds) and Tim Duncan (8 rebounds). Despite the return of Jarrett Jack from a hamstring injury, the Nets’ offense couldn’t amass any consistency and even failed to notch a fast-break basket. Your final score: Spurs 102, Nets 75.
Tonight, the Memphis Grizzlies (1-1) host the Nets after righting the ship in Indiana on Thursday. Following an opening night 106-76 pounding at home courtesy of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Grizzlies bounced back with an impressive 112-103 road victory against the Pacers. Marc Gasol scored eight of his team-leading 20 points to spark a 39-point fourth quarter comeback while the lesser-renowned bench tallied 49 points on 18-27 shooting (66.7 percent) for the game.
Third-year head coach Dave Joerger will once again lead the majority of the roster that won him 55 games last season, including the usual suspects (Gasol, Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Zach Randolph) that jolted them into the Western Conference Semifinals. The Grizzlies, a perennial defensive juggernaut, held opponents to 95.1 points (2nd in the NBA) last season, and now have some added depth to a bench that already includes Jeff Green and Beno Udrih.
In the offseason, general manager Chris Wallace acquired Matt Barnes (who heard “Der-ek Fish-er” chants in Indiana on Thursday) and ex-Nets center Brandan Wright to bolster the second unit. 38-year old Vince Carter remains on the roster from last year after career lows in minutes (16.5 per game) and scoring (5.8 points per game), and he’s been inactive the first two games.
The Nets dropped both games to the Grizzlies last season: 103-92 in Brooklyn on January 14th, and 95-86 on the road on February 10th, a game which featured a warm ovation for Lionel Hollins returning for the first time since his tenure in Memphis ended in 2013.
What to watch for: Icy Joe. It’s been a tough first two games for Joe Johnson (12 points, 5-for 22 FGs), and his status for tonight could be influenced by a right hand injury that occurred last night. Joe was seen by cameras icing his hand on bench towards the end of the game. If he does play, he’ll have the pleasure of drawing a Tony Allen matchup, first team All-Defense in three of the past four years. No biggie.
Tip-off is at 8:00 E.S.T. at FedEx Forum in Memphis.