Thoughts on the Game: Nets 86, Philadelphia 76ers, 102

AP Photo/Michael Perez

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The Nets unquestionably have looked like an improved team this season, but every once in a while, they have a tendency to remind me that they’re still coming off of a miserable 12-win season. Last night’s fourth quarter in Philadelphia was more than just a reminder of everything that went wrong last season – it was an anvil on top of the head for Nets fans.

In many ways, the final score of 102-86 bails the Nets out from some of their responsibility. It looks like they were just romped by a livelier, better prepared Sixers team. While that was ultimately true, the game was there for the Nets to win until there was about 6:50 left in the fourth quarter. The fact that the Nets nosedived at such a stunning rate in less than a 7 minute window, indicate just how deplorably the team played in the fourth quarter.

The final line of the fourth quarter was Sixers 36, Nets 20. The Nets two biggest fourth quarter problems came home to roost – they couldn’t shoot, and they couldn’t defend. Last night was certainly not a banner night for the “Devin Harris is back to his old self on defense” fan club. Philly’s two point guards, Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams combined for 35 points, 18 assists and 1 turnover. Holiday (20 points, 13 assists) was especially slippery in the fourth quarter as Harris was consistently letting him get by him into New Jersey’s “secondary” of Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries down low. One instance was probably the turning point of the game for the Nets, when at the 6:30 mark Holiday used a screen to skit by Harris where he was met and fouled by Brook Lopez in the corner, converting a four point play that stretched the Sixers’ lead from 4 to 8. The Nets never got closer after that and the Sixers went on to finish 15-18 from the field in the fourth, and shot 51 percent overall for the game, compared to 41 percent for the Nets.  It was so embarrassing for the Nets that former retread Tony Battie even put on a clinic, hitting all three of his shot attempts in the fourth quarter, including a rim rocking dunk with about two minuted left in the game. I would question where that spring in Battie’s step was last season, but I’m assuming he, Rafer Alston and Bobby Simmons were all channeling their inner Roger Murtagh’s while with the Nets and were simply “too old for this …” well, you know.

Did I mention that the Sixers only had 3 wins coming into this game? While there certainly are no gimmees in this league, for the Nets to fall apart like this against a team that’s had an equally hard time closing out games in the fourth quarter was just stunning.

There was a bit of a silver lining in this game with Lopez, but as is always the case with Brook, there’s a catch. His final state line of 25 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks looked great, especially when he did a good job of taking what the defense gave him and finished 5-7 from beyond 15 feet.  He was especially effective in the first quarter when got to the free throw line 10 times, sinking 9, but here’s the “catch.” He didn’t get to the free throw line again the rest of the game.

A few more thoughts after the jump:

Jordan Farmar has earned a lot of praise on this site and elsewhere for his play backing up Devin Harris but after finishing 1-6 from the field last night, he is now shooting just 33 percent for the season for the Nets. That’s just not good enough and if he maintains those numbers, he’ll be more of a liability than he is a help.

Travis Outlaw finished with 4 points on 2-9 shooting with just 1 rebound and 1 assist. When he’s that ineffective, Avery Johnson can’t be afraid to just pull the plug on him that night.

On the flip side, I’m thrilled to see the Stephen Graham experiment seemingly draw to a close and Damion James get the playing time he frankly was warranted from the onset of this season (and preseason). He finished with 6 points on 3-7 shooting with 7 rebounds off the bench. These aren’t all-star numbers, but he was probably the best rebounder not named Kris Humphries the Nets had on the floor last night.

After watching him play last night, I’m stunned that there was an argument on this web site about who was the better draft pick, John Wall or Evan Turner. It’s possible that Turner will evolve into a solid NBA regular in time, but right now he looks like a guy without a position who isn’t versatile enough offensively to get going.

I second Marv Albert’s comments last night: why was the Philly crowd doing the wave? As if being tasered and vomiting on little girls didn’t make that city’s fan base look stupid enough?