This will certainly go down as a game the Nets should have won. There is flat-out no reason they should have lost this game but in the end they didn’t make enough plays to win, and they fell to the Sacramento Kings, 86-81. No that wasn’t a misprint that you read. The Nets gave up just 86 points and still lost to one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA. I talked about the Nets lack of scoring before this game and it unfortunately reared its’ ugly head again. To score just 81 points against a team like the Kings is utterly disgraceful and the Nets should have never lost this game.
For one of the first times this season both Travis Outlaw and Anthony Morrow played well…and the team still lost. Mark wrote a good article about Tranthony Morrlaw the other day and the two really did produce tonight. A combined 30 points on 11 of 22 shooting is something the Nets would sign up for every night. In the second quarter the Nets shooting guard hit plenty of big shots that seemed to give the Nets a solid edge going into halftime. But as has been the problem throughout this season, they could not preserve the lead.
Perhaps the biggest negative in this game tonight was Brook Lopez. I wrote about the Nets center before the game but he did not live up to his previous expectations. The Nets starting center played 38 minutes and took just 9 shots, making three of them. I know for a fact that 2 of those shots were dunks, which doesn’t bode well for his shot selection. I came into this game thinking that Brook had regained his confidence and was ready for another solid performance, but he was just very unimpressive tonight. Your starting center needs to take more than 9 shots when he plays 38 minutes, and Brook just made no impact tonight. To say I was disappointed in his effort would be an understatement.
Before the game I talked about Cousins vs. Favors Round 2. And frankly the matchup was a wash because of the ineffectiveness and utter irrelevance of both players. Sure D. Favors had a sick dunk that made Sportscenter’s Top 10, but otherwise he was useless and had just 3 points and 2 rebounds on the night. Cousins wasn’t much better, as he had 8 points on 2 of 8 shooting, but did add 10 rebounds. But as I said in this first matchup, getting the W is the most important thing, and Cousins’ Kings got that this time.
Let’s face it, the Nets biggest nemesis tonight was Beno Udrih. He hit big shots all night, most notably the three with under 5 seconds remaining in the game that iced it away. I can’t fault Avery Johnson’s strategy in the last few seconds. There was a clear 4 second difference between the game clock and shot clock, and if the Nets got a stop and Udrih missed that shot, the Nets could have called a timeout and gotten a chance to tie or win the game in the last second. But their inability to cover three point shooters ultimately cost them a chance to tie the game, and Beno Udrih had a lot to do with that.
This is one of those games that will stick with me as a Nets fan. They should not have lost and should be 5-7 right now instead of 4-8. They played very well throughout a good portion of this game, but again did not make enough offensive plays to get it done. So now they go into tonight’s back-to-back with a 2-game losing streak. They will need a much better offensive effort if they’re going to grab a victory in Denver.