The Nets fell to 17-24 on the season. Here’s everything you need to know:
What happened: The Brooklyn Nets & Washington Wizards kept it interesting throughout, but Washington’s raw talent proved too much down the stretch, and the Wizards fell at home, 99-90. Jarrett Jack led all scorers with 22 points on 10-18 shooting, while Nene added 20 on 8-12 from the field.
Where they stand: At 17-24, the Nets are now just one game up on the Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets for the eighth playoff seed, after both teams won their respective games Saturday night.
That was… A misfiring down the stretch. Washington’s penchant for missed free throws and occasionally careless play allowed the Nets to hang around despite trailing 77-70 heading into the fourth quarter. Jarrett Jack put together some big plays at the rim, plus a key assist to Bojan Bogdanovic, to help trim the lead.
But the Nets didn’t get enough contributions with the game on the line, missing six of their final seven shots and two of three free throws, while the Wizards got a layup and mid-range jumper from Nene to fall to seal the seventh loss in eight games for the Nets.
Game Grades: Read ’em here.
Lopez, King Discuss… Nothing Important, According to Lopez: Brook Lopez and Billy King had an extended, private conversation on the bench during player warm-ups.
Lopez told The Brooklyn Game after the game that they did not discuss this weekend’s trade rumors in the conversation. “We were just talking about how a few years ago, he would commute from Philly to Jersey,” Lopez said. “That was all we really talked about.”
A Truthful Return: Paul Pierce made his first return to Barclays Center since leaving the Nets in free agency this offseason, receiving an indifferent smattering of boos and cheers from the crowd.
Pierce also channeled his inner Russell Westbrook after the game:
Paul Pierce just said "The only answer I have tonight is: We executed."
— Nick Metallinos (@NickMetallinos) January 18, 2015
Pierce was the only Wizards starter not to finish the game in double figures, scoring seven points on 2-9 shooting on the night.
Feeling White On Blue Night: The Nets had one of their “Brooklyn Blue Nights,” which I’m not even sure they’re advertising to anyone anymore, wearing their “Blue Night” t-shirt jerseys. Everyone in the starting lineup also wore blue sneakers, except for Kevin Garnett, who wore white sneakers. Jarrett Jack later switched to black sneakers.
Called a foul:
Probably not a foul.
Not called a foul:
Probably a foul. That latter play came at a key juncture in the game, with the Nets down 93-88 with 2:29 left in the fourth quarter, and just after Nets guard Alan Anderson had missed two of three free throws. That was Brooklyn’s last real chance to slice into Washington’s lead.
“All calls are important through the course of the game, but that one call didn’t lose us the game,” coach Lionel Hollins said. “I thought we played courageously and we battled, and, eventually, we went to empty.”
My thoughts at the half: Could they really win twice in a row against a team as good as the Wizards?
No. No, they could not.
Your Nightly Mason Plumlee Is A Hell Of A Dunker Highlight:
Also on display in the above highlight: Plumlee’s newfound chemistry with fellow midseason starter Jarrett Jack, who tends to find Plumlee near the rim on pick-and-rolls and in transition. Jack has thrown 39 assists to Plumlee on the season, the most of any one player to another on the Nets this season, and most of them have looked just like that: Jack finding Plumlee on the way to the rim.
When asked about his connection with Plumlee, Jack gave him credit for finishing the plays, as well as fellow Nets center Brook Lopez. “They do a good job of screening, getting me free and available to get into the lane to make some opportunities,” Jack said. “When they do that, I try to get into the lane, the big steps up. We made some eye contact, (Plumlee & Lopez) are very, very gifted around the rim, so I just try to put the ball where they can catch it and they do the hard part of finishing. So all the credit goes to them.”
Steady Woefulness: The Nets shot just 4-for-17 from three-point range Saturday night, dropping them to 32.1 percent on the season, third-worst in the league. They’ve shot a league-worst 26.7 percent from three-point range since the dawn of the new year. It doesn’t help matters that Deron Williams, who was shooting at a 38.9 percent clip on the season, hasn’t played since January 7th with a rib cartilage fracture.
Half-Season: The Nets are now on pace to finish the season 34-48, after hitting the halfway point with a loss.
“It’s still a work in progress, obviously,” Joe Johnson said after the game. “Obviously not what we expected at this point, but we just need to get better and have the team work hard and pull for one another each and every day.”
Jarrett Jack was a bit more optimistic.
“It’s a typical first half of the season, peaks and valleys, but at this point, this is where most teams hit their stride,” Jack said. “They pretty much show who they are and if they’re going to be a team worth talking about, worth mentioning as we go into the later stage of it, and I think our group is ready to do that.”
Brook Lopez’s response included an unintelligible sound. Rather than attempt to transcribe it, I will leave it for you to decipher:
But no one laid it more bare than Hollins.
“Well, in the first 41, we didn’t win enough games. In the second 41, I hope we win a lot more.”
Next up: After their ninth game and third back-to-back set in 14 days, The Nets now have three — count ’em, three — days off for the first time since November 27th-29th, before they take on the Sacramento Kings in Sacramento late Wednesday night.