I’m going to keep this short, not only because it’s late but also because the current Nets team doesn’t deserve anything more than what I’m going to provide. Quite frankly, losing to the Raptors without Andrea Bargnani or Jose Calderon in a contest that isn’t as close as the score indicates tells you all you need to know about the state of the team.
The Nets’ locker room is now more infirmary than anything else, as the injuries continue to mount: Deron Williams, Kris Humphries, Damion James, Anthony Morrow, Quinton Ross, Ben Uzoh, Mario West, Sundiata Gaines … the list goes on and on. Have no fear, though, for Travis Outlaw has suited up for every single game this season. Every single one.
There’s neither desire nor talent to play defense, and Brook Lopez is the only thing resembling an offensive player left on the team at this point. I don’t blame players like Dan Gadzuric and Stephen Graham who are seizing an opportunity they don’t merit, but they simply don’t have the skills to do what’s asked of them. The Nets had only two scorers in double figures: Lopez, who was great (35 points, 12-of-21 shooting, 11 rebounds) and Sasha Vujacic, who limped to 19 points by shooting 5-of-14 from the field. The other Nets? They shot 32 percent from the field, highlighted by Outlaw’s 0-for-6 night.
Meanwhile, the Raptors shot 51 percent from the field without arguably their two best players. DeMar DeRozan couldn’t be stopped in the first half, and Jerryd Bayless couldn’t be stopped in the second half. Needless to say, Reggie Evans owned the boards without opposition, really. In total, the Raptors outrebounded the Nets 45-31.
But it wasn’t enough for the Nets to bow out peacefully, and they just had to make a run in the fourth quarter. Behind incredible offensive play from Lopez (Wow. Getting the ball to your best player actually works? What a concept!!!), the Nets crept back into it, at one point reducing the deficit to four points with a few minutes left to play. Farmar busted that up. After denying Lopez a suitable entry pass in favor of the search for an opportunity in isolation, he later went back to try Lopez again, only to throw the ball out of reach of the big man and straight out of bounds. If only to make things worse, there was a tipped ball when the game was out of reach. The officials decided to review it, in what was possibly the review with the lowest time-taken-to-significance ratio in history.
It’s heartbreaking to say this, but watching this zombified version of the Nets is worse than watching last year’s 12-70 team beyond articulable comparison. I can’t wait for this season to end, for the NBA deities to put the Nets out of their misery, and for Mikhail Prokhorov & Co. to hopefully work some magic in the offseason to sway Williams to re-sign here. It’s almost better that he’s not with the team right now, as he really wouldn’t like what he saw. Let’s hope the anesthesia for today’s surgery makes him forget to watch the replays.