Thoughts On The Game: Nets Lose Another Close One

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It happened again!  The Nets were able to get down three, foul, and have the Sixers miss foul shots.  Again, they were unable to get a good look, as Hayes airballed a contested three.  Last night marked the Nets second close loss in a row, as the Nets lost to the Sixers 83-79.  Another tough loss against the Sixers (The 3 games against them have been decided by 10 points), but hey, at least we got a game-tying attempt up…right?  In all seriousness, the Nets had another poor offensive stretch in the second half.  The difference was the defense.  Now, this could have been helped by the Sixers, who aren’t lighting up the scoreboard this year (they are in the bottom half of the league with an 103.5 Offensive Efficiency).  The Nets are a team that will stall offensively once or more in a basketball game (I have written this far too many times to account).  Against the Sixers, this stretch came in the third quarter.  Instead of the game turning into a blow-out, the Nets were able to keep it close because they only allowed the Sixers to score 23 points.  In the fourth quarter, they were able to make a game of it because they only allowed 14 points.

Despite the good defense, the Nets still lost, and now are 1-2 in their last 3 games.  The close losses is a little frustrating because this is a pretty easy stretch for the team.  In his game recap (which is a must-read after every game) Ben Couch talked about the team’s play:

After seven-straight double-digit losses, the Nets have begun to tighten up on defense, holding three consecutive opponents below 90 points and allowing no better than .421 shooting.

Though the offense matched the intensity against the Clippers in Wednesday’s 103-87 victory, topping 100 points and 53-percent shooting, it fizzled in the fourth quarter against Washington (13 points) and the final three quarters against Philadelphia. The droughts have left the Nets with a 1-2 record despite taking both of the losses down to the final minute.

“This was a stretch we looked at as an opportunity to win, put some wins together and unfortunately, we weren’t able to do it,” said point guard Keyon Dooling. “We started out pretty good against the Clippers but the last two we just haven’t had enough to get over the hump.”

Ben sums it up pretty nicely.  The Nets have the right mentality though, they need to break up the schedule into groups of games, and look at it just like Keyon Dooling talked about.  They have one more chance to get a W at home when they play Detroit Tuesday night at the IZOD.  Now the Pistons are a really bad team right now, a combination of injuries and poor play make them a potential candidate for the next Nets win.  We’ve been down this road before though.  Some more thoughts on the game after the jump.

In his post game recap, Ben notes that Terrence Williams has now played over 15 minutes in 6 straight games.  Terrence has been doing a great job of breaking down his man and creating opportunities for teammates on the perimeter by kicking the ball outside.  Kiki is showing his faith in Terrence, and he isn’t disappointing.  Again, quoting Ben:

After getting 26 ½ minutes against the Sixers, Terrence Williams has played at least 15 minutes in six straight games after doing so only once in the previous eight. The rookie swingman has earned the extended run by contributing across the board, and allowing his offense to come in the flow of the game, as evidenced by Sunday’s line of six points, 11 rebounds, three assists and a steal against only one turnover.

A two play stretch in the 2nd quarter showed flashes of brilliance from Williams.  First dribbled the ball up, and nicely left it for Yi who drilled a jumper.  He then brought it up and zinged a cross-court pass to Jarvis Hayes, who calmly knocked down the three. That stretch from Terrence came when Chris Quinn was on the court.  Quinn has been getting some playing time and has been playing well (0-3 last night though).  Quinn is a very good shooter, and he stretches the court for the Nets.  The great thing about playing Quinn and Williams at the same time is that Terrence Williams can run the point on offense (which is what happened last night) and let Quinn work as the 2 where he is more effective.  This doesn’t hurt the Nets though, because they cross-match Quinn and Williams defensively (Quinn guards the point/Williams guards the 2).

  • Kris Humphries struggled scoring again (just 2 points on 1-5 shooting), but he did get 5 rebounds.  That is one thing you can always count on from Kris, high energy.  He gives the Nets an edge, and on a 4-42 team, that edge is needed.
  • Yi had another solid game putting up 15 points (on 7-15 shooting) with 12 rebounds.  I think Yi is starting to find a nice balance between shooting from the outside and driving to the hoop.  Last year, Yi exclusively shot the ball from the outside.  This allowed for teams to close out hard on him, not even worrying about the site.  Early this year, he was exclusively driving the basketball.  This allowed for teams to give him space and defend the drive, not worrying about the shot.  Over the past two games Yi has split his shots evenly between jumpers outside 10-feet and shots at the rim.  Last night Yi was 4-7 outside 16 feet.  He also attacked the basket.  When Yi is doing both he becomes a lot tougher to defend, and that makes it easier for him.
  • When Jarvis Hayes shoots the ball, and he is making them, I don’t think there are many who have a prettier shot (I really think he is in the Michael Redd/Ray Allen class in terms of nicest/easiest looking shot).  He played very well today, getting most of the SF minutes, putting up 18 points.
  • Can we officially say that CDR has entered dog-house territory?  CDR only played 14 minutes, hitting a three (the only shot he took) and getting a rebound and an assist.  I doubt this has to do with anything besides on the court (he has been making comments to the media/twitter throughout the year and I honestly don’t think his comments are that bad).  During the practices I have been to, CDR really doesn’t stick out (in terms of being a problem) and he works hard.  To me, this means that Kiki hasn’t been happy with the effort of CDR during the games.  Hopefully he can break out of this funk and get back on Kiki’s good side, because when he is right, CDR is an efficient scorer that the Nets need.
  • Mark noted in his quick recap that Brook was fighting some stomach issues.  He put up 18 and 9 with three blocks.  The Nets have a really special player in Brook.
  • In the second quarter, the Nets had a play that sums up their season.  The Nets forced Marreese Speights into a contested 20 footer on the baseline.  They give up the offensive rebound and leave Speights open for a lob, which Speights misses as the ball skies in the air towards the baseline.  Two Nets (I can’t remember which) go for it and they run into each other, knocking it to Rodney Carney, who finishes at the rim for two.  Marv Albert, who was announcing the game had this take on it, “That is a possession that the Nets just gave away.”  Sounds about right.
  • That final play the Nets ran wasn’t the best play I have ever seen.  Quoting Ben Couch one more time, “Nets coach and GM Kiki Vandeweghe took responsibility for the play call, acknowledging that the switches and the team’s lack of familiarity with the halfcourt version, fogged the execution.” This is where Kiki’s lack of coaching experience hurt him.  Late in games, pretty much every team in the NBA switches everything.  Now Kiki knows this, but he isn’t someone who is used to standing with a clipboard with 22 seconds left in a NBA game.  Being a coach is very demanding, and you need to think of a million things at once, especially late.  When drawing up the plays Kiki didn’t take into consideration that the Sixers were going to switch on defense.