From the onset, last night’s game just seemed like one of those nights that was going to be totally forgettable for the New Jersey Nets. The Atlanta Hawks are everything the Nets are not: athletic, deep and offensively efficient. The last two times these teams met, the Nets lost by a combined 53 points. Then consider that the Nets were without the services of Devin Harris last night, who looked probable earlier in the day yesterday despite having a respiratory infection, but obviously was not in any kind of game shape. So the Nets were throwing a lineup out there consisting of Keyon Dooling, Courtney Lee, Trenton Hassell, Josh Boone and Brook Lopez. Umm, yeah. I guess I should be thankful the Nets only lost by 24 and not by 50.
Even when the game was tied at 22 in the first quarter, it was difficult for me to get excited. The Nets were only shooting 35 percent, and were in a close-game early because the Hawks matched their ineptitude by throwing up a 36.4 percent first quarter. Given what we know about the Hawks and what we know about the Nets, it was a bad first quarter for one team, and par for the course for the other. We did get the highlight of two consecutive free throws made by Josh Boone, which means someone should be doing a temperature check in hell. Actually, it’s a little unfair of me to rip on Boone after last night. He finished with a career high in rebounds with 20 rebounds and added 13 points to boot. That’s a double-double for Boone if I did my math correctly. He looked energized, especially in the first half and this may have been the best game I’ve seen Boone play in three seasons.
The problem is, the Nets need other players to perform for them to even stand a chance against most teams, no less a team that gives them match-up nightmares like Atlanta. You could just feel the foundation starting to shake towards the end of the first quarter when Terrence Williams – playing point guard point guard for the first time in a long while, and not point forward – turned the ball over on an 8-second violation. It set the tone for an out of sync second quarter where the Nets only scored 17 and Jamal Crawford scored 15 (and the Hawks 33 total). The Nets were going to need someone to have a stand-out offensive performance from at least two guys tonight and barely got one. Brook Lopez was solid, finishing with 21 points on 8-15 shooting, but didn’t do much else to help the team and may have been involved with the most bizarre offensive foul call I’ve ever seen when he set a screen for Keyon Dooling on Mike Bibby in the third quarter, and Bibby proceeded to jump into Lopez, grab his shoulder, and still draw a foul on the big man. I’m going to go out on a limb and say the refs botched the call there. But they probably looked at the game they were reffing and figured it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway.
A few more thoughts after the jump:
I know it’s competitive basketball and all, but I thought Atlanta might have been running up the score a bit at the end of last night’s game, so when I saw them go for a full court pass to Maurice Evans with less than a minute to go in the game, I was hoping someone on the Nets would get back down the court fast enough to prevent the hoop. It happened to be Terrence Williams who got called for the flagrant foul. I can’t fault him for it. The Hawks were up by more than 20 points and on total cruise control. Yes, I know it must be tempting to ram it down the throats against a team that can be as lazy as the Nets are on defense sometimes, but Atlanta also had to realize they were endangering their own players by busting out the Harlem Globetrotter passes in the game’s final seconds. The Nets know they are dangerously close to setting the all-time record for losses in a season, so it’s good to see they care enough to foul hard, even if they’ve already been embarrassed.
When Jarvis Hayes is cooking, he is such an asset for this team, but when he has night’s like he had last night (2-8 from the field, 1-6 from three), he’s just absolutely maddening. Still, I would have preferred to see Jarvis with the first unit yesterday, especially with Harris out.