For six years, I owned a car that never really ran well, but got the job done. The problem was, I drove the thing to the ground, and by the time I had amassed about 150,000 miles, every time I got into the car, I would hope against hope that the piece of crap could just get me through this one last trip. If the car could just get me a little further, I vowed to never take another long trip again, retiring the thing for grocery shopping and the occasional trip to Target.
And then one day the car just died. And I realized that my plans for using the car going forward were irrelevant. It was never a good car to begin with, and the abuse I put it through for most of its lifespan gave it a specific expiration date. That date had passed. Game over.
I guess this terrible, terrible analogy I made regarding last night’s Nets/Wizards game would have worked better if I told you that my car died when the smallest person in my town jumped in front and slashed my tires, while smashing my hood in with a baseball bat. Sadly, things don’t happen like in real life, only in the NBA.
Last night’s 81-79 loss to the Wizards just felt weird, and despite the overall shock value of it – Earl Boykins, a guy who wasn’t even in the league last year hits the decisive shot with .4 seconds? – the outcome also seemed inevitable. Despite a solid defensive effort, holding the Wizards to 81 points and 42 percent shooting, the Nets were never able to put away a clearly inferior opponent and it came back to kill them. Up 12 in the first half, the Nets were owned on the boards throughout, getting outrebounded 40-32 and allowing 15 rebounds on the offensive end. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the Nets, who had been shooting around 50 percent for most of the game, just seemed to sputter offensively, as Kiki Vandeweghe seemed to lose the Midas touch had had Wednesday night with his rotation choices. Kris Humphries, a hero against the Clippers, was the goat last night, going 1-8 from the field, including way too many long twos in crunch time. Terrence Williams, who seemed to do everything right a few nights ago, was on the bench for the Wizards. Courtney Lee, who didn’t miss in the first half, scoring 17 points, disappeared in the second, finishing with 19.
So, like my car, the Nets had an expiration date in this game. I wasn’t sure when the nail would be driven in the coffin, but I was fairly certain about the outcome. It was clear to me after Yi Jianlian hit a jumper with about 5:30 left in the third to put the Nets up by 8, and they ended tied with the Wizards towards the end of the quarter. After failing to score the knocking blow, it was just a matter of time before the Nets were going to stall out and be stranded by the side of the road.
- Remember when I said yesterday that Kiki essentially has to keep going with the hot hand? Well, Kris Humphries was great offensively on Wednesday night. Not so much last night. Yi meanwhile, was not great, but was better. Yi, however, sat on the bench for the entire fourth quarter. Hump missed three jumpers, and was caught holding the ball without getting a shot off for a 24-second shot clock violation in the fourth.
- If I can take something very positive out of this game, it’s the fact that Brook Lopez really is going to be a big time center in this league in due time. He has his struggles, and what young player doesn’t – especially those on a 4-41 team? But that spin, up and under move he put on Brendan Haywood to tie the game with 11 seconds left in the fourth was a the kind of basket a superstar player makes in this league. Brook also had a couple of monster blocks, including one on Boykins in the third, and another a few minutes later on Antawn Jamison where it looked like Jamison hurt his shoulder after the play was over.
- CDR only attempted 7 shots and scored 8 points, but I felt this was one of his better games in weeks. He was very aggressive in taking the ball to the rim, and got a couple of non-calls earlier in the game. The 9 defensive rebounds, on a night where the Nets were just getting called on the offensive glass were huge. All I’m looking for in a player is contributions throughout the game. CDR provided that tonight, and I hope this is a sign of him turning the corner, so critics like myself can shut up about it already.
- Towards the end of the third quarter, Chris Quinn drilled a three from the left corner and I was thinking why aren’t the Nets passing it to him there every time down the court. The kid can shoot, and defenders are picking up on the fact that the Nets seem to have blinders towards the corners on the court. If they could just find him there, they could probably cheat with an extra 3 to 6 points a night.
- It really didn’t make sense to me that Terrence Williams only got 15 minutes after his game on Wednesday. He’s probably the team’s second best rebounder behind Kris Humphries right now, so he would have been useful just for crashing the boards.