Nets-Warriors Final Notes: Joe Johnson Frustrated


Some last notes about the Nets’ 114-98 loss to the Golden State Warriors. Check out Game Grades here. For photos, check out the Game Gallery. Some great photos in there.

Following your average NBA game, there is a pattern among the players with media availability. One player routinely speaks first, and the cycle runs from there. For the Nets, the rotation starts with Brook Lopez, and then tends to splinter between Jarrett Jack, Joe Johnson, and whoever else has earned some shine.

This may not matter much to you. But on more than one occasion this season, Johnson has gotten dressed and slipped out earlier than usual. On at least one occasion, he ducked out entirely as Lopez gathered the attention of his teammates. Sunday night, he almost did it again, before a couple of reporters intercepted him by the exit. His thoughts on nights like Sunday haven’t deviated much: no, he has no idea what the problem is, and no, he’s not sure how to fix it.

There’s a clear frustration from Johnson following these losses. He’s never had to answer for a team this bad before in his career — and he’s made it clear he doesn’t have the answers.

There exists an inevitability about these Golden State Warriors. Their season, to this point, has been an episodic journey detailing the various ways a basketball team can win. They’ve won by 50 (yes, 50), they’ve won by 3, they’ve won in overtime. They’ve won after trailing by 15 and after giving up a 15-point lead. They’ve won after nearly blowing a game in regulation. They’ve won despite off nights from their best players and off nights from their bench. They’ve won with two starters missing.

For the Nets, it almost looks like the opposite. They’ve won a few games, but as Marc Stein of noted, they’ve lost more games after holding a double-digit lead than any other NBA team.

The Warriors will eventually lose. Nobody’s perfect. But even in that loss is a sense of victory. They’re still great, and still the favorites to win the NBA title this season. The opposite feeling of that is the inevitability for the Nets. They’ll win some games, maybe two in a row. But without playoff aspirations and without a high draft pick, what are those wins worth?

One of the Nets’ future beacons is rookie Chris McCullough, who’s sat out since January after tearing his ACL in a game with Syracuse. McCullough made the jump despite the injury, and isn’t expected to make any return to the court until at least the new year.

Along the way, McCullough got a little bit of mentorship yesterday from someone who knows the path. Former Nets guard Shaun Livingston, now with the Warriors, shared an extended, private conversation with McCullough regarding his rehabilitation.

Livingston suffered one of the most devastating knee injuries in NBA history in 2007, tearing multiple ligaments in his knee and fracturing the kneecap, so he knows more than a little bit about what McCullough’s going through. He came away from the chat impressed with McCullough’s mentality.

Mikhail Prokhorov, majority Nets owner and reportedly now 100% principal Nets owner and owner of Barclays Center operations, was on hand to watch the Nets-Warriors game Sunday night. He did not speak with the media. He is expected to be on hand Tuesday, though there are no plans currently for a press conference, according to a team official.

Prokhorov gaining full ownership of the team does not mean it will stay that way. Consolidated ownership is easier to dole out minority stakes with, and Forest City Ratner’s stake has been on the market for quite some time. Though Prokhorov denied reports that he’s looking to sell off his entire stake, he has never denied an active search for minority shareholders. (The Nets and Forest City Ratner both declined to comment regarding the report.)