AP Photo/Alan Diaz
The Nets haven’t done a whole lot right this season, so it’s only fitting that they even found a way to screw up their final game of their worst-ever season. With the Miami Heat playing for nothing but seeding, sitting Dwyane Wade, the Nets fell into a huge hole in the third quarter and looked to be playing another game on cruise control on course for their 70th defeat. But rather than just punching the clock and finishing off this putrid season, they came all the way back in the fourth to tie it, had a chance to win it on a fluke offensive foul call by the refs, played poorly in the first overtime but still forced a second, only to ultimately lose anyway.
And what did those 10 extra minutes actually do for the Nets as the organization looks to greener pastures this summer? MIA for all of the fourth quarter and OT periods was their present, Devin Harris, and their future, Terrence Williams, while Brook Lopez was inserted back in for the first OT, only to turn the ball over three times on boneheaded plays (a travel, a shot clock violation and an offensive foul). Yi Jianlian, who’s still trying to prove he belongs on this team in some capacity next season, finished with a more than solid stat line of 23 points, 15 rebounds and 2 blocks, but was virtually ignored towards the end of regulation when Courtney Lee opted to take the ball to the hoop and draw a foul rather than pass it to the wide open Yi in the corner for a chance to win the game. Also, it was nice to see Chris Douglas-Roberts get into the game and make some plays on offense, though 9 points and 4 turnovers for a guy that’s supposedly going to make hay in this league as an instant offense guy is a bit of a letdown.
It was a happier time for Chris Quinn, who looked like a JV player playing out of his league on the varsity squad during Monday’s loss to Charlotte. Last night, Quinn ran the point effectively, only netting 5 points and 2 assists, but grabbing 7 rebounds – which is amazing in itself when you consider he’s the most physically unimpressive player on the floor by far – and not turning the ball over, which is a major accomplished for a team that gave the ball away 20 times last night, leading to 23 points.
But a Yi scoring outburst, some good/some bad from CDR and some efficient play from Chris Quinn are not really the things we as Nets fans should be having dreams about headed into the summer. While this season was far from promising back in October, at the very least, I thought it would be entertaining, watching Devin Harris shoulder the burden by himself, while watching players like Lopez, CDR, Yi, TWill and Courtney Lee evolve into legit NBA ballers. It really didn’t work out that way. Harris seemed overmatched when he wasn’t injured, Lopez grew up, but CDR regressed as the season went along. There’s promise in Terrence Williams, but we haven’t seen enough consistency, and more importantly, accurate shooting, to say anything more, and Yi remains an enigma, the Oliver Perez of the NBA for all of you Mets fans out there. Last night, Harris didn’t play when it mattered, TWill was off, Lopez looked gassed, CDR was okay, and Yi was alternating between sweet looking jump shoots and being rejected by the rim and turning the ball over.
Whereas a team like Miami can essentially play for nothing but a rank – I’d personally rather take on Atlanta in the first round as the #6 seed than Boston as the #5 seed – with their superstar/all-world player on the sidelines in a suit, and still find a way to win. The Nets are still finding ways to lose, perfecting it like a Julliard student does the violin. It was an absolutely ugly game, with the Nets shooting 36 percent, while the Heat shot 40 percent. The only offensive weapon the Heat had, Michael Beasley (25 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks) fouled out in the first overtime. Yet it was Yakhouba Diawara, playing his first minutes of the game, drilling a critical three in the second OT to stretch the lead for Miami.
What I’m getting at is that it’s frustrating to look at Miami’s players on paper, especially when Wade is out, and watch them still outslug the Nets like this, even if it took them two overtimes to do it. 82 games and a few additional minutes later, and I still don’t know what to take from this Nets season. There was the 0-18 start, the Frank firing, the January to forget – where I saw this team play about as uninspired and awful as I’ve ever seen an NBA team play – and the last 6 weeks or so where this team demonstrated a pulse, and more importantly, some ability. But then the last two games for the Nets left a sour taste in my mouth. There was a lot of the “old” Nets on Monday and last night – letting a depleted opponent getting ahead, failing to make a shot when it mattered, the spontaneous disappearance of Devin Harris – and that’s disappointing after an other promising end to the season. When pondering the foundation of this Nets team, are they the players who came out and took advantage of a San Antonio Spurs team without Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker, or are they the team that lets Mario Chalmers and Yakhouba Diaware beat you in double OT? I guess we have all summer to find out.