For some reason I was expecting the Nets to come out energized last night. The Nets were coming off of a blowout against the New Orleans Hornets where no starter played more than 27 minutes (Brook), and the bench minutes were split evenly as well. Obviously, that didn’t happen. As lackluster as the Hornets looked two nights ago, the Nets were just as bad, maybe even worse. They just looked slow the entire game as the offensive wasn’t crisp and the defensive rotations were slow (if they even happened at all).
There are teams that other teams just seem to struggle against. We have witnessed it in our favor as the Nets just seem to have to Bobcats’ number. On the flip side, the Washington Wizards just seem to have the Nets’ number. Most of it is simply match-ups. Overall, the Wizards’ talent level is equal with the Nets, but where the Wizards excel, the Nets struggle. Andray Blatche is a great offensive talent, while Yi is one of the worst defensive PFs in the NBA. Blatche has killed the Nets in the past three games, and tonight was no different. Blatche was 1 rebound away from a triple-double, putting up 20 points, 13 assists, and 9 rebounds. The Nets seemed determine to force someone else to beat them, and they doubled Blatche every chance they got in the first quarter. However, unlike when they doubled Tim Duncan, the strategy wasn’t successful last night. Part of it was the poor rotations due to the back to back, but another aspect is that Blatche can handle the ball farther out (than a guy like Duncan), and that forces the double to come from longer distances. Because of that, Blatche is able to survey the court and make the correct pass. He had 8 assists in the first quarter, but this was maybe the most frustrating:
Here, Blatche makes the catch so far out, that Brook Lopez is hesitant on whether to double or not. That slight hesitation is what allows Blatche to find Shaun Livingston who was allowed to cut backdoor due to a defensive breakdown by Devin Harris. Poor defensive rotations is what basically put the Nets out of their misery late in the fourth quarter:
Down 6, the Nets offense started to click, and they badly needed a stop. Instead, the above happened. It is funny how the Wizards broadcast cut to that angle right when the play started, as if they were expecting it. Either way, you can just see the gap that Javale McGee has to drive through to finish with the dunk.
On the offensive end, Brook Lopez seemed to be the only Net who was really into any type of groove. However, the Nets seemed to fall into that old pattern where they forget to get him the basketball. The Wizards didn’t have anyone who was big enough to stop him, and when Brook was making the catch down low, he was either finishing or drawing the foul (22 points on 6-12 shooting with 10-11 from the line). The Nets looked to be out of it early in the 2nd quarter, but after using Brook exclusively they were able to go on a 9-2 run and cut the Wizards lead to 7. After those possessions late in the second, I thought the Nets finally “got it” and realized that they need to get the ball to Brook in close. However, this was the first possession for the Nets:
Your eyes aren’t fooling you, Brook Lopez makes his post up at the three point line and ends up making a catch 35 feet away from the basket. Part of it is on Brook for floating out that far out, but some of it is on the coaching staff for not running a play that puts Brook right on the block.
Some more thoughts after the jump:
- Terrence Williams had another terrific game 15 points (7-10 shooting), 4 assists, and 3 rebounds, but he had a key turnover late that really hurt the Nets. Down 5, Williams pulled down a rebound and tried to throw a full court bounce pass. It was easily stolen and the Wizards came back down and scored, extending the lead to 7. It is a rookie mistake (thinking he can fit it in like that), but you just wish he wouldn’t make it late. Especially because it really takes away from the great game that he did have.
- Maybe I am turning into an old fogie, but seeing Blatche run around like a chicken with his head cut off after that rebound to get a triple double really bothered me. It wasn’t just because it was against the Nets (I would feel the same way if T-Will was doing this). Yes, a triple double is a huge deal, but do you really want to get that 10th rebound by fighting with your teammate over an airball? Or rushing the ball up the court to throw up an underhand shot to try and rebound it?
- Even though he scored 22 points, Devin Harris didn’t have the best game. He is at his best when he is creating, and he only had three assists. He really wasn’t attacking or getting the ball in the middle, and that was part of the reason the Nets’ offense looked so sluggish.