It’s not often that the Nets appear to have the most talent on the floor, but that certainly was the case last night against the Washington Wizards, who have watched their roster get blown up the past month due to the trades of Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood. But this is the Nets we’re talking about here, and while a part of me thought they would be able to ride the momentum of their shocking victory against the Boston Celtics on on the road Saturday into last night’s game against the lowly Wizards, New Jersey just showed once again why they’re going to make all of us sweat as they get closer and closer to breaking the 72-73 Philadelphia 76ers all-time infamy mark.
With Courtney Lee nursing an injury, and Jarvis Hayes just returning from sitting a few games and looking out of sync, the Wizards were able to counter an early double-digit lead for the Nets by going all-but-exclusively to a zone defense, daring the Nets to shoot from the outside. The Nets had no answer, missing jumper after jumper, and shooting 35 percent for the game. Devin Harris, who was off to a tremendous start with 11 points and 8 assists in the first quarter, finished with 18 points, and was one of the key culprits for the poor shooting, going 7-24 from the field. So despite 50 first-half points, the Nets only finished with 85 for the game.
Last time the Nets and Wizards played, it was Earl Boykins who hit the game winning shot. The Nets were spared that indignity, but instead, found themselves giving up back-to-back jumpers to Randy Foye (20 points), both of which coming over the outstretched arms of Yi Jianlian, who looked more concerned about picking up his 6th foul, than getting up in the face of Foye to challenge those shots.
Yi put forward one of those games that really just drives you nuts as a Nets fan. The numbers in the box score look great: 20 points and a career high 19 rebounds. But in addition to the two Foye shots on his watch, he was consistently getting burned by Andray Blatche (36 points), who at this point is the only real offensive weapon left on Washington’s roster. Also, in the fourth quarter, Yi made back-to-back bonehead plays that almost put the Nets out of it for good: a travel off an offensive rebound, followed-up with a frustration offensive foul the next time down the court. He did redeem himself over so slightly with about 3:45 left when he grabbed a defensive rebound and found Terrence Williams streaking down the court with the outlet pass for the easy slam and the brief lead. But that’s what you seemingly get with Yi at this point – two bad plays, followed by one good to give you some hope. Kiki Vandeweghe seemed to be more smitten with the good last night, playing Yi 40 minutes.
More thoughts after the jump:
- Deja vu all over again. Brook Lopez looked absolutely dominant early on, and look destined for a big night, but once the opposing defense went into a zone, he was denied the ball on the inside, and the Nets didn’t hit enough of their jump shots, to spread the floor and keep the defense honest to open things back up for their big man. You have to wonder what kind of season Lopez would be having this season if the Nets had one or two guys on their roster who could just hit a jumper with any kind of consistency.
- I could be raising a red flag here, but when Kiki took Devin out in the first quarter, Harris immediately retreated to the locker room. When he came back out, he didn’t look the same, and was having the kind of shooting night similar to what he was putting together during his “injured wrist” period earlier this season. Devin’s jumper just looked off the last three quarters.
- With the Nets seemingly spiraling in the second half, Trenton Hassell did a great job getting to the free throw line six times and sinking five. If there was a consummate professional award in this league, Hassell deserves it.