AP Photo/Bill Kostroun
The Nets closed out their run of basketball at the Meadowlands last night in similar fashion to how the organization has spent most of their days in the New Jersey swamp: with an uninspired, ho hum loss in front of a paltry crowd. Outside of some excellent work by the YES Network, who were showing clips of “Meadowlands Moments” throughout, there was little pomp and circumstance to this evening. No images of Derrick Coleman and Chris Dudley cutting down the nets and wishing the New Jersey faithful a pleasant good evening. No signs of Jason Kidd or Kenyon Martin electrifying the crowd one more time before the lights were turned off. Instead, the only real connection to this franchise’s past came in the form of the opposing head coach, Larry Brown, who coached the first ever Nets game at the Meadowlands in 1981.
To be honest, I don’t know if there was anyone out there who felt like lingering past closing time at the Meadowlands last night. The Nets are one game away from finishing up their worst season ever, which says a lot for a franchise whose futility may only be rivaled by the Clippers. And while there have been some good times at the Meadowlands, it’s hard to call it a real home for an organization that’s jumped around the New York/New Jersey area for decades. Even their next move to Newark is just a temporary one with Brooklyn appearing to be their final home – for the time being.
As for the game itself – the Nets played poor defense early, squandered a run in the second half by going ice cold shooting-wise in the 4th quarter, and demonstrated their utter lack of depth whenever their bench took the court: ladies and gentleman, your 2009-2010 New Jersey Nets.
While the Nets are far removed now from being considered the “worst of all time,” they’re still a pretty bad team, especially when they’re giving up 59 first half points and allowing an offensively challenged team like the Bobcats to have an incredibly balanced scoring attack with 7 players in double figures. Meanwhile, only 7 players on the Nets even scored a point in this game. While the Nets looked pretty balanced with their starting 5 all scoring 14 or more points, the bench – sans Jarvis Hayes and Keyon Dooling from the start, and Kris Humphries after a first half injury – only scored 4 points total, compared with 50 for the Bobcats bench. Yes, these are NBA players, but it’s especially embarrassing when a guy like Gerald Henderson, who’s gone scoreless in four previous games, drops 14 on the Nets, including a posterizing dunk on Devin Harris in the second quarter.
Still, with all that, the Nets actually clawed back from a double digit first half deficit and briefly grabbed a one point lead in the third quarter. Harris hit two threes early in the third quarter, Terrence Williams was able to score at will near the basket, and the Bobcats were just cold enough to make it appear like a competitive basketball team was on the verge of happening. But it was three layups towards the end of the third that brought Charlotte’s lead back to six, and a 12-1 lead from the Bobcats in the fourth, pushed the game back out of reach for the Nets.
Fortunately, Terrence Williams continues to be a bright spot, and as Ian Eagle speculated after the game, you have to wonder if TWill wants the season to end right now. There was one point in the first half where Williams had 13 of his team’s 27 points. On a night where Devin Harris wasn’t much of a factor outside of the third quarter, and Brook Lopez had a quiet 16 points and 8 rebounds, Williams was the best player wearing a Nets uniform last night – and with a plethora of impact swingman expected to be available in free agency and the draft this summer, the Nets are going to have to consider long and hard how they can improve their team, while still finding quality minutes for TWill, who is growing into a game changer before our very eyes.
A few more thoughts after the jump.
With that said about TWill, while I appreciate his play the past 6 weeks, he does worry me when he appears a bit too preoccupied with the stat sheet. After his triple double game against the Bulls on Friday, TWill was quoted as saying he was asking his teammates to shoot from halfcourt if it meant getting him his 10th assist. Last night, Devin Harris looked a little too trigger happy in the third every time he caught a pass from Williams, including one play where he missed an easy shot under the rim in the third quarter because Devo added some flash and tried to catch and score in one motion. Harris looked a bit sheepish about it, while Williams looked annoyed that he didn’t get his assist. At that point, the Nets were challenging the Bobcats for the lead in the third. Let’s get our priorities in order.
With about 4 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Brook Lopez was running the floor on a fast break, caught the ball, lost control and missed the layup. The YES booth praised Lopez for being athletic enough to run the floor, and while I agree with their sentiments, Lopez has a knack for looking out of control with the ball in situations like that (see also when he does his frightening dribble drive move from the top of the key). While Lopez may have the athletic ability to run the floor, he still doesn’t really look all that comfortable.
While Keyon Dooling certainly has had a season to call home about, he’s that much more of a capable backup PG than Chris Quinn. When the Net first brought Quinn over, I thought he had potential to be a decent bench option, but as his playing time has become more infrequent, he’s failed to impress me in any of his recent appearances. For lack of a better word, he just looks some unsteady and physically overmatched out there – something you definitely don’t want to see from your primary ball handler. While TWill is not a true point, I would have much rather seen the Nets use him as the primary PG when Harris was on the bench, with Chris Douglas-Roberts flanking him in the backcourt. Quinn just doesn’t look like a functional NBA player at this point.