The Nets, without their two best players, were hung out to dry at home against the New Orleans Pelicans. 5 players for 9-man New Orleans scored 14 or more points and Brooklyn allowed them to shoot 55% from the floor. Buckle up, remaining ladies and gentlemen, because without Lopez and Young, results like these will be the norm, not the exception.
With no playoff push or lottery pick in the sight, the Nets have no incentive to win or lose the rest of the way. Of course, this has been the case for Brooklyn since Jarrett Jack tore his ACL in January, but the frustrating reality is simply setting in now. As the Celtics are the only one left benefitting from the Nets’ results, general manager Sean Marks decided to shut down Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young for the season, the team’s two best players by a considerable margin.
Oh, and Bojan Bogdanovic and his 11.1 points per game would sit this afternoon as well, leaving the Nets to make up about 47 of their 98.5 average. Easy task, right? Against the New Orleans Pelicans, an equally damaged and broken team, these points would be surprisingly difficult to come by. In the first quarter alone, we saw 2 three-point attempts from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, 3 mid-range tries from Thomas Robinson, and a Nets team that shot just 4-21.
The Henry Sims, Wayne Ellington, Shane Larkin, Hollis-Jefferson, and Robinson combination clearly struggled to sync up and the Nets’ 19th different starting lineup of the year squandered a 7-0 lead to the Pelicans — they would never be in front again. Luke Babbitt, the shaggy-haired focal point for New Orleans, played all 12 minutes of the opening frame and scored 8 points with ease against Robinson. Those woes continued well into the second quarter as Willie Reed missed all 4 attempts and the Nets desperately needed Sergey Karasev in order to make plays.
As expected, Sean Kilpatrick and Markel Brown shouldered much of the scoring load for the bench unit, but the Nets quickly fell behind by double digits. Meanwhile, the Pelicans hovered around 50% from the field and Tim Frazier (7 points, 8 assists) tore them apart all half. Even Kendrick Perkins chipped in 5 points — which somehow encapsulates all 24 minutes of the in-game basketball these teams just played. Being down by just 11 points at halftime was a blessing, despite their paltry 32% from the field and 10 turnovers, the Nets could only do so much with so little.
The third quarter brought a solid run of points from Ellington as his early 8 points helped the Nets cut the deficit down to just 7. However, Frazier continued to destroy the Nets’ apathetic defense in the paint — but a small resurgence of the mid-range jumper from Hollis-Jefferson kept them within arm’s length. Although Sims doesn’t show up in this afternoon’s grades, he’s proved to be a solid pickup and his scrappy, tough hustle saved Nets’ possessions on multiple occasions. And yet, they were down by 9 at the end of three quarters thanks to 5 different Pelicans in double figures (Dante Cunningham, Alexis Ajinca, James Ennis, Frazier, and Babbitt). In return, the Nets offered little resistance.
Ultimately, without Lopez, Young, and Bogdanovic, the Nets just did not have enough firepower to keep up with the Pelicans. The aforementioned Perkins even celebrated an early fourth quarter layup and I’m pretty sure we could end this recap right here.
And we will.
The Pelicans, who were without Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson, and Jrue Holiday, shot 55% from the field. 5 players scored more than 14 points for New Orleans and only Kilpatrick (in garbage time) notched that amount for Brooklyn.
OK, now we’re done.
The stats: 8 PTS, 2-6 FG, 2 REB, 1 STL, 2 BLK, 1 TO
Although he’s still on a minutes restriction, Hollis-Jefferson is certainly not shy anymore. He’s shooting more jump shots than Tony Brown must enjoy, but in an ultimately meaningless game like this, why not?
Much of the Nets’ future success depends on his ability to shoot, so his early corner three was an indication of his (and the Nets’) commitment to the cause.
Oh, and would it really be a Rondae grade without a massive defensive highlight?
Nice block by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. https://t.co/wvG222IOCs
— devin kharpertian (@uuords) April 3, 2016