Opponent: Memphis Grizzlies
Location: Barclays Center
Time: 7:30 PM EDT
Watch: YES Network, Fox Sports GO app
Thanks to an appearance by “Joe Jesus” on Monday night, the Nets (14-39) have a chance to end the “first half” of the season on a positive run going into the All-Star Break. Joe Johnson’s buzzer-beater would be hard to top, but a win tonight against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies (30-20) would give the Nets wins in three out of their last four game with eight days off ahead of them. It’s been a lost season thus far, but who doesn’t welcome good vibes going into a vacation?
The Grizzlies are currently fifth in the Western Conference playoff race but 14 games behind the San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division. Head Coach Dave Joerger’s team, after a stretch that fetched them wins in 11 of 13 games, have dropped two overtime games at home in their last two: 114-110 to the Mavericks on February 6th, and 112-106 to the Trailblazers on Monday. The latter was especially heartbreaking considering Grizzlies forward Jeff Green assisted with the game-tying tip at the buzzer. With the initial game-tying attempt coming off the rim for a rebound, Green leaped and re-directed the ball not once, but twice into the cylinder for the unfortunate “own goal” and tying bucket.
Free-agent to be and possible Nets offseason target, Mike Conley, scored a season-high 27 points and Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 28 points and nine rebounds. Center Marc Gasol left the game at the end of the first quarter, and will miss the game tonight — and possibly the rest of the season — after suffering a broken foot.
This will be the second and final game between the Nets and Grizzlies tonight. In their first meeting on Halloween night, the Grizzlies beat the Nets in Memphis 101-91 despite shooting just 42.5 percent from the field. Conley led the Grizzlies with 22 points and eight assists. Bojan Bogdanovic led the Nets with 19 points off the bench and Thomas Robinson scored eight points and grabbed a season-high 12 rebounds in just 11 minutes. Robinson became the first Net to post 12-plus rebounds in 15 or fewer minutes in a game since Jayson Williams recorded 13 rebounds in 11 minutes in January of 1996. On Monday, Robinson grabbed 11 rebound (4 offensive) in only 16 minutes.
What to watch for: The re-emergence of Markel Brown has injected life into the Nets lately. After a perfect shooting performance (5-of-5 FG, including 3-of-3 3PT) in Philadelphia on Saturday, Brown scored a career-high 19 points in 24 minutes off the bench against Denver on Monday. Brown’s athleticism and defensive prowess was clearly evident in the second half of last season, but fell out of favor with ex-Head Coach Lionel Hollins thes season for whatever reasons. The second year guard has averaged 11.1 minutes in 34 games but has already racked up 19 DNP’s. Considering the Nets place in the standings, there’s many reasons to believe current coach Tony Brown will be looking to Brown for production in the “second half.”