AP Photo/Bill Kostroun
Well, as I mentioned yesterday, this is poised to be a “very special” Nets Are Scorching recap, for what turned out to be a very frustrating game to watch. For the first time this season, the entire Nets Are Scorching crew (sans Justin and Dennis, but we still love them) got together for a game at the Prudential Center, and even old editor emeritus and NBA Playbook specialist Sebastian Pruiti joined the crew. I choose to lead with these facts, because for me, hanging out with all these guys under one roof, when we’re all typically strewn across the U.S., was an absolute pleasure, as opposed to the game we watched where the Nets nearly blew a 23-point lead to a Wizards team missing John Wall and others (like Yi Jianlian, who I stupidly referred to as being active in yesterday’s pregame. Mea culpa. Mea culpa).
It’s a bit difficult to provide superior play-by-play insight of a game when you’re seated in the mezzanine of an arena with five guys shooting the breeze. So you’ll have to bare with the rambling nature of this post. For starters, let me point out that Sebastian is as sharp as ever. Watching a game with him is like sitting next to Mike Fratello, constantly analyzing the motion on the court like it’s second nature. Many Nets fans have been kicking and screaming that Brook Lopez – who finished with 18 points and 5 rebounds in a foul plagued 26 minutes – is just not being aggressive enough on the offensive end this season. But listening to Sebastian point out how the Nets only run a limited number of offensive sets with Lopez as the focal point (and becoming predictable in the process), and watching it unfold before me, has me backing off the Brookie Monster for the time being.
Overall, this wasn’t a game that you could take a bunch of positives from. It goes into the “win is a win” camp. Yes, it ended the slide for the Nets, but both teams shot in the vicinity of 40 percent. The Nets outrebounded Washington 52-37 which is always nice (thank you Kris Humphries and your 17 rebounds and 12 points). The Nets also got to the free throw line 47 times (19 more than Washington). Otherwise, the Nets played the first 24 minutes with total intensity – especially the first quarter when they outscored the Wizards 32-17 and were not only playing super efficient on the offensive end, but were all over the place (in a good way) on the defensive end. But by the time the second half rolled around, they were lulled to sleep and the offense ground to a halt. The standing around and staring at whoever has the ball at the moment is confounding. Travis Outlaw, who had one of his better offensive nights in a while, finishing with 13 points (thanks to going 7-8 from the FT line) continues to do things on the court that puzzle me. At one point in the first half, Brook drew a double-team in the post and kicked it out to the right elbow to Outlaw, who then proceeded to dribble into the same double-team Lopez was passing out of.
Naturally, it’s Gilbert Arenas who carries the Wizard back into the thick of it in the second half, as the group of us more or less dismissed Arenas as a non-factor in the first half (he did have all of two points if I remember correctly). “Where’s Nick Young” Sebastian kept asking before he dropped 22 points on the Nets. Stop asking, I say.
On a closing note – let me just say that there needs to be clearer signage in Downtown Newark that will help get fans back to Newark Penn Station after the game. Naturally, this comes after the lot of us wandered the streets of Downtown Newark for a good 20 minutes before stumbling upon the train station. Yes, it’s apparently right there, and yes, I did the same thing two weeks earlier in broad daylight without any problem, but if Brett Yormark really wants to get more fans from NYC to the games, the least he could do is help set us back in the right direction home (no disrespect to you Newark folks out there).
And so ends, the greatest recap ever. Or so it seemed at the time.