Thankful for the Nets, but Brooklyn loses 110-99

B

Final: 11/25/2015

L 99 110

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) shoots in front of Brooklyn Nets guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Admittedly, it can be tough to come up with a list of things to be thankful for if you’re a Brooklyn Nets fan these. Without putting much thought into it, here’s what I came up with:

  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson shows promise
  • Brook Lopez is a loyal dude
  • Thaddeus Young works really hard
  • …?

Even for me, one of the more optimistic members of the Nets community, that list doesn’t offer much in terms of future possibilities. But, on this Thanksgiving Eve, there’s a very real need to differentiate between this hapless, bleak future everybody is writing about and being thankful for what we do have in the present.

Sure, the Brooklyn Nets aren’t going to win a championship any time soon; heck, they’re a borderline playoff contender in the absolute best case scenario. But, at least for tonight, it’s important to put things in perspective, so even though the wins may be few and far between, there’s plenty of things worth being thankful for in Brooklyn.

Shane Larkin is whirling dervish of fun. Jarrett Jack is a professional. Andrea Bargnani keeps things interesting. Thomas Robinson reminds us of Reggie Evans. Chris McCullough gives the Nets some future youth despite the uproar after trading the Boston Celtics an unprotected first rounder two summers ago for a year of Paul Pierce. And, best of all, perhaps, Lionel Hollins usually has this team of aging veterans and scrappy youngsters playing hard every night, a major improvement from the first few weeks of the season.

Ultimately, I guess I’m thankful for a lot of things after all.

In Oklahoma City, a place where the Nets have won their last three games (!!!), the Thunder have righted the ship after a wobbly, rickety start, so most didn’t give the Brooklyn Nets much of chance in this one. But, and excuse my Jason Kidd-ism, they battled hard as the Nets went to the hoop and drew fouls, Brook Lopez started strong before fading, and they nearly pulled it out against one of the NBA’s best.

Furthermore, the Nets hung with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook for about 3.5 quarters before the wheels spectacularly fell off. The Nets struggled again from downtown (3/12) and eventually Durant decided to end the game on his own volition through a couple of his unguardable above the break three-pointers. Immediately following the final buzzer, YES Network seemed to shrug their shoulders and encapsulated our entire thoughts in one sentence:

“The effort was there, but they were playing one of the best teams in the league.”

Sometimes effort is enough and sometimes you’re playing Kevin Durant — and that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Happy Thanksgiving to all from The Brooklyn Game Family!

Brook Lopez

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The stats: 26 PTS, 11-23 FG%, 8 RBS, 2 ASTS, 2 STLS, 2 BLKS, 3 TOs

Brook Lopez is (usually) poetry in motion, isn’t it?

I feel like those that think Brook Lopez is boring are the same people that can’t find any joy in a soccer game. Sure, Lopez is unlikely to explode for a huge dunk or hit his defender with a killer crossover, but his methodical post game is something of infinite wonder.

What do you want? A little mid-range jumper? How about some back-to-the-basket footwork that would make a professional dancer jealous? Tonight, the Thunder had no answers for Brook Lopez and the box score shows it, partially.

Then, Lopez started settling for those 17-foot jumpers that are so pretty when they’re falling, but head-scratching when they clank. Lopez stopped going at Enes Kanter, one of the league’s worst defenders — which would be akin to the Thunder not sending Ibaka or Durant towards Andrea Bargnani as much as possible. All in all, solid night from Brook, but it could’ve been so much more.

I am thankful for Brook Lopez.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

B+

The stats: 11 PTS, 4-7 FG%, 11 RBS, 1 AST

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson seems to get a little better and brighter each day.

Although it would’ve been impossible to match his five-steal, David Lee-block party from Sunday against the Celtics, the rookie has given us a real impression that professional game is starting to click. Tonight, Hollis-Jefferson was tasked with guarding Kevin Durant and, well, good luck with that. But for as much nominal success one can have guarding Durant for 30 minutes, it wouldn’t be farfetched to say that this was his best outing yet.

Even just last week, we saw Hollis-Jefferson panic with the ball when he got into unfamiliar situations, but tonight? He was constantly making the right cut, driving with confidence, and generally showing up exactly where he was needed to scoop up a loose rebound. When the Nets traded Mason Plumlee for Hollis-Jefferson in June, there were tales of his limitless defensive potential, but warnings that his offense was rough around the edges.

Now headed into December, Hollis-Jefferson looks like a completely different player than the one they saw in June at Summer League. He’s a different beast than even the Hollis-Jefferson they saw a few weeks ago against the Houston Rockets where 5 first quarter turnovers in his second career start glued him to the bench in Brooklyn’s first win of the year.

I can’t wait to see what Christmastime Hollis-Jefferson looks like.

I am thankful for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

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