AP Photo/Bill Kostroun
Take another “winnable game” off the board for the Nets.
It sadly, has come to this. With just 12 games left in the season, the Nets will essentially need to play better than they’ve played all season and I just don’t know if they’ll do it. I don’t know because last night looked like another opportunity for the Nets that they just let sail by them in such effortless fashion, it’s hard to imagine things finally starting to “click” with just 12 games to go. If it hasn’t clicked after 70, why start now?
Maybe my expectations should have been lowered. Coming into last night’s game, the Nets were matched up against a team fighting for its playoff lives. But the Nets have also played these same Heat tough in two losses earlier this season, including a heartbreaker in November that was probably the game that cinched the now historic 0-18 start. And in reality, the Nets had a fighting chance this entire game, despite shooting 38 percent and allowing Miami to shoot 56 percent, including closer to 60 percent through the game’s first three quarters.
But things fell apart, once again, in the third quarter. Similar to Saturday’s game against Toronto, the Nets settled for too many jumpers, played too little defense, and got outscored by wide margin: in this instance 27-14. And just to pile on, one of the Nets better players the past few weeks, Terrence Williams, landing awkwardly on Jermaine O’Neal’s foot during a drive to the hoop during the quarter, and was limping pretty badly when he went back to the trainer’s room for more evaluation. Williams looked primed for a triple-double last night, scoring 9 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. However, in addition to his performance last night, I just don’t know if the Nets, as they’re currently playing, will be able to win three more games with Terrence Williams out. While the Nets are yet to win a game since TWill has been inserted into the starting lineup, I do think the team tends to play better when he’s on the floor. The Nets were actually playing their best earlier in the night when Williams wasn’t scoring, but he quickly amassed 6 assists and 5 rebounds. I think I can safely say he’s the only player currently on the roster that makes the team better without having to score.
A few more thoughts after the jump:
- I’m still trying to wrap my head around how Brook Lopez could score 26 points and only grab 1 rebound. And there seems to be a trend developing here. He did grab 13 rebounds Saturday night, but he collected 5 and 4 respectively in his two games before then. While it’s tough to count on Brook at this point in the season to be a double-double guy every night, he’s just got to do a better job boxing out and not straying too far from the paint while on defense. On the plus side, he took 12 FT attempts, sinking 10, which is just outstanding. One of the biggest knocks on Brook entering the season was that he didn’t shoot enough FTs for an elite center, especially since he’s quite solid from the charity stripe. If he can keep finding his way to the free throw line, Lopez will absolutely take his game to yet another level on the offensive end.
- I found it interesting that down the stretch, John Loyer, who was filling in for Kiki Vandeweghe, went with Josh Boone as his PF. Can’t say I disagreed with Loyer either. Yi has not been lighting the world on fire since he returned from injury, and Kris Humphries seems to be getting progressively worse as the season goes on. Not only is Hump bricking too many shots (1-6), he also seems to be losing court awareness. One play in the third quarter, he nearly intercepted a pass to his own teammate (Chris Douglas-Roberts), knocking it away and throwing the team out of sync. Wake up Hump!
- Courtney Lee looked phenomenal in the first quarter, scoring 13 points early, but he did his best Brook Lopez imitation, disappearing for the rest of the game and only scoring two points from that point on. In addition to a healthy Terrence Williams, the Nets need Courtney Lee functional and accurate for all four quarters in these last 12 games, or they should just embrace the W.O.A.T. now.
- Chris Quinn had a chance to prove himself a bit tonight with Keyon Dooling on the shelf, and I thought he was a bit of a trainwreck in the second quarter running the offense. He had two turnovers in 9 minutes, and looked sloppy and insecure with the ball throughout the game.