The Morning After: Nets stumble into All-Star break

The Morning After: Nets stumble into All-Star break
Joe Johnson, Jimmy Butler
The Nets showed the most life after the whistle, and it cost them in the loss. (AP)

Hello, Gary. Thank you for your continued support of The Brooklyn Game. As we head into the All-Star break, take a look at some funky hoodies at The Brooklyn Game Store. Your support keeps us going. Thank you, you lovely unicorn.

Here’s a roundup of last night’s Nets festivities.

What happened: The Chicago Bulls out-grinded the Brooklyn Nets for all four quarters, outscoring them in the first and last quarters by a combined 52-34 to take down Brooklyn, 92-76. Five Bulls scored in double figures, led by Taj Gibson with 16. Paul Pierce led the Nets with 15 points.

Where they stand: This loss is a big one for Brooklyn — instead of leapfrogging the Washington Wizards and jumping to one game under .500, the 24-27 Nets stumble down to the seventh seed heading into the All-Star Break. They would’ve had sole possession of the fifth seed with a win.

That was… A slow, ugly game, which played right into Chicago’s abilities, and a complete offensive collapse for the Nets. Instead of rolling with their spread-the-floor offense with Kevin Garnett facilitating from the high post, the Nets punished themselves and their viewers with isolation after isolation in crunch time, hitting just one field goal — a wild shot by Joe Johnson in the lane — in the last six minutes.

Game Grades: Read ’em here. They ain’t pretty.

It didn’t start so bad: Shaun Livingston kicked off Brooklyn’s scoring with their first seven points, first with these back-to-back and-one layups on Mike Dunleavy:

This isn’t Livingston getting back to where he was, it’s him getting to where he was supposed to be all along.

…But it was all downhill from there: Those two plays were probably the best moments for Brooklyn all game; the Nets fell behind early and never recovered, falling behind by as much as 16 points and making feeble threats at the lead. The Bulls played their pack-the-paint, overload defense to perfection. The Nets were thoroughly dominated by Joakim Noah on both ends.

Okay, this was fun:
Shaun Livingston got an open dunk off the dribble in the lane against the Chicago Bulls in a half-court offense. Perhaps the rarest sight in the NBA.

Jimmy Butler, Joe Johnson’s Little Brother:

Jimmy Butler took exception to Johnson’s in-game shove, and Johnson responded by smushing Butler with one finger as teammates restrained both players (Butler more forcibly). Johnson was lucky he didn’t get tossed for it, but frankly, it wasn’t that big a deal. He didn’t punch him, he tapped him. If you’re offended by the tap, I don’t suggest you read Joe Johnson’s lips.

Craig Sager Suit Update: The game was broadcast only on TNT, meaning that Craig Sager was doing the sideline report:

My Video Screen Shot 2_13_14, 8.16 PM 1

At this point, the only thing Craig Sager could wear that would surprise me is a t-shirt.

KG’s Paradox: With the Nets down 78-72 and 6:03 remaining, coach Jason Kidd took Kevin Garnett out of the game and brought in Andray Blatche, hoping to give Garnett some rest. But Blatche is nowhere near the team defender that Garnett is, and the Bulls promptly made them pay for the switch, scoring on three straight possessions to put the Bulls up 84-72. By the time Kidd brought Garnett back, it was too late.

Just ask Paul Pierce:

Joakim Noah, taking smelling salts like a champ:

My Thoughts At The Half:

Getting Technical: This game was rife with fouls, both personal and technical. Kevin Garnett picked one up in the second quarter for arguing a call. Joe Johnson and Jimmy Butler picked up one each for the aforementioned finger-tap. Paul Pierce barked at a ref for a Kirk Hinrich flop soon after. The game ended with 49 free throws, 44 personal fouls and 4 technical fouls, meaning there were 48 fouls… in 48 minutes. Like I said, ugliness.

Can’t Rebound From This: The Nets are one of the league’s worst rebounding teams because of their longball lineup, and the Bulls are a top-3 team in terms of rebounding percentage. So you’d expect the Bulls to win on the glass. But the Nets only grabbed four offensive rebounds and were out-rebounded overall 45-27. A brutal effort on the glass, and it cost them. The Nets have now been out-rebounded in 10 of their last 12 games.

Off-Topic, But Marquis Teague Wants You To Know Who He Is:

Note to self: don’t ever compare Marquis Teague to Jeff Teague.

Next up: Time off. The Nets enter the All-Star break with two players headed to New Orleans; rookie Mason Plumlee joins the Rising Stars Challenge, while Joe Johnson will participate in the 2014 Foot Locker Three-Point Contest and the actual All-Star Game Sunday night. When the season returns, they start a six-game road trip (technically seven, if you include last night’s game) against the Utah Jazz on the 19th.