Avery Johnson was luckier than I was. He got himself ejected and didn’t have to watch most of the second half as the Nets got run off the court in their 106-92 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in Newark last night.
This was a rough one. The Nets did so little right, and the Sixers did so little wrong – running a blistering transition game and scoring 35 fast break points (compared to 8 for the Nets), outrebounding the Nets 47-38 and getting a bunch of second chance points as a result, going a perfect 18-18 from the free throw line, and turning the ball over a meager 8 times. Just based on those numbers alone, the Nets had very little chance of competing in this game, and outside of a few moments – a nice stretch covering the last half of the first quarter and the first half of the second quarter where the Nets had taken a brief lead, and a mini-run in the third quarter after Avery’s ejection where a pair of Anthony Morrow threes temporarily sparks the team – the Nets didn’t compete. They looked old and lazy and worst-of-all complacent, like they had won their ring by manhandling the Nuggets on Monday and winning the ‘Melo war and forgetting that getting embarrassed by 21-26 team at home is…. embarrassing.
I have to give Avery his due. If ever there was time for an ejection, it was last night and considering Johnson didn’t even have a technical foul this season until now, I’m going to speculate that the Little General was taking a page out of the Bobby Cox playbook and got tossed to try and fire up the troops. Not that Johnson’s anger wasn’t justified. Devin Harris was literally thrown by Elton Brand while trying to pass the ball – of course Harris loses credit for jumping with no place to go on the pass – but the shove was clear as day. Instead it led to another fast break for the Sixers, who had their running shoes on all night.
The problem is, unless your Victor Frankenstein, it’s hard to reanimate a corpse. The listlessness was evident from the opening tip when the Sixers started 11-2 and yeah Brook Lopez, I’m looking at you. His missed his first four shots, including two long-two’s that he had no business taking while his team was desperate for some easy offense. One of his misses was a little sideline jumper that hit the side of the backboard. While I agree that Brook’s rebounding woes are a bit overstated, the Sixers gathered 11 offensive boards in the first half, and Philly’s C/PF combo of Brand and Spencer Hawes were all over most of those. Lopex finished with 16 points, but needed 19 field goal attempts to get there and didn’t attempt a single free throw. Just a terrible, terrible game, by any standards.
And when the Nets aren’t clicking the way they were last night, you then have to turn to the other usual suspect in Devin Harris. He only attempted one field goal in the first quarter, and after setting career highs in assists in back-to-back games, collected a modest 7 last night (the team had 16 total for 37 FGs). Towards the end of the second quarter, he made back-to-back bad passes, overthrowing Derrick Favors after leaving his feet (again!), and on the next possession, throwing a lazy pass to Brook in the post that was intercepted for a fast break (again!).
And if you want to believe that the Nets responded to Avery’s ejection because of their little run they went on to end the third quarter, keep in mind the following four possessions after the technical free throws: Lopez turns it over after traveling; Andre Iguodala misses a jumper which is rebounded by Hawes and put back for two; Anthony Morrow misses a layup and Kris Humphries blows the following tip; AI gets an uncontested reverse dunk before Sam Mitchell calls a timeout. If that’s inspiration, I hate to see uninspired. For what it’s worth, once AI decided to get cute and reverse his dunk, it might have been a good time for a nice hard foul from someone, but the Nets minds were clearly elsewhere.
A few more thoughts after the jump:
After weeks for calling for more offensive play calls for Derrick Favors, we seemed to get it last night, and it was a little scary. The rookie was super active on the defensive end, grabbing 11 rebounds, blocking 3 shots and committing 2 fouls in his 21 minutes, but he was an uncharacteristic 2-9 from the field, and he just looked like he was rushing shots out there. There was one play at about the 6:00 mark in the second quarter where he got a great feed from Devin Harris from about 8-feet out and calmly hit a face-up jump shot – I don’t think I’ve seen Favors hit that shot this season, which was a pleasant surprise.
If you don’t believe Kris Humphries game has evolved this season, look no further than around the 8:00 mark of the second quarter where he got the ball with an open look at an 18-foot jump shot, took a few dribbles, backed his defender in and hit a higher percentage turnaround jumper in the paint. Last year, Hump launches that jumper and the Nets are one-and-done.
I voiced concerns about Jrue Holiday in the pregame thread and my fears came true. Yeah, he only scored 11 points, but he also collected 10 rebounds and 11 assists – that’s a triple double if you’re counting. Meanwhile, his backup on the bench, Lou Williams, went for 26 points. Why can’t the Nets guard this team’s PGs?