These days, call it typical Nets basketball.
The San Antonio Spurs marched into Brooklyn and made a mockery of the Barclays Center only matched by the BrooklyKnight, outscoring the hapless Nets 60-29 in the second half en route to an easy 111-86 victory. Led by Tony Parker with 29 points and 10 assists, the Spurs shot 58.9% from the field and 12-19 (63.2%) from beyond the arc, taking what was once a 61-all game in the third quarter and turning into yet another blowout.
The loss marked the sixth for the Nets in nine games, dropping them to 29-22 on the season with a negative point differential. It was their fifth consecutive loss against San Antonio, and somehow the 111-86 final score doesn’t do that final half justice.
What is typical Nets basketball? “We have to get back to trusting each other,” point guard Deron Williams said after the game. “We’ve talked a lot about that. Trusting each other on both ends of the floor. It’s a big thing. Look at the Spurs, they trust each other, regardless of who’s in the lineup. They’re missing Tim and Manu tonight, and they do the same thing.”
Williams acknowledged that this team does have a lack of trust. “At times. I thought we played really unselfishly the first half, then the third quarter comes, we get a couple moments where we can’t score and the ball stops moving.”
The Nets only recorded four assists in the second half, turning the ball over ten times and hitting just 12 field goals over the final 24 minutes.
“We would’ve hoped we’d be past this stuff, but it seems like it just keeps coming up,” Williams continued. “Until we play more consistently as a group, it’s going to keep coming up.”
“We went back to old habits,” Gerald Wallace said. “It’s effort. It’s character. It’s heart. We’ve got to be able to respond.
“Instead of pulling together as a team, we go in 5 different directions out on the court, and it shows,” Wallace added. “Our offense is stagnant, the ball sticks on one side, and defensively nobody helps nobody. they basically just do what they want to do offensively, and the results are what they are.”
The Nets allowed the Spurs to shoot 65% from the field in the decisive second half, as the Spurs hit 7 of 12 from beyond the arc and doubled the Nets’ field goal total (24 to 12). The team had no answer for pick-and-roll wizard Tony Parker, who sliced through the Nets’ seemingly random pick-and-roll coverage to create shots for himself and others at will. Wallace, who struggled as much as the rest of the roster tonight, blamed the team’s splitting mentality.
“We gotta understand that this is a team game, instead of getting angry – getting angry’s part of the game … but instead of going your own individual way, we gotta pull together as a team, buckle down, tighten our defense a little bit more instead of turning into five different guys on the court.”
The Spurs, who were without Hall of Famers Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, got production across the board, with five players in double figures and seven hitting at least four field goals. The Spurs sank open shot after open shot as the Nets seemed powerless to stop the team with a league-best 40-12 record.
“We should take look at the guys in San Antonio, 1 through 15,” Wallace, in full-bore, continued. “Everybody knows their role. it doesn’t matter who they have on the court, their offense looks the same, their defense looks the same. We’ve got to get that mentality, regardless of who’s on the court for us, our offense and defense has got to look the same for all four quarters. We have to stay together as a team instead of pulling apart.”
Wallace seemed to indicate that the Nets were pulling apart at the seams, splitting mentalities in multiple directions. “There’s enough fight, but the fight’s in the wrong direction,” Wallace emphasized. “Everyone’s wanting to fight individually instead of pulling together as a team. (Instead of) us fighting as the Brooklyn Nets, we’re trying to fight as 15 individual guys on the court. I don’t care who you have, we’re not going to win playing individual basketball, we have to stay together as a team, get back to our principles defensively, and continue to help each other out.”
That help was not in session tonight — not for the guards who needed help containing Tony Parker, not for the bigs who couldn’t defend the Spurs’ big perimeter shooters, not from the entire team to buoy Brook Lopez & Joe Johnson’s efficient offensive games. It seems to come and go randomly, without warning; the only consistency in this team is its utter inability to remain consistent from game to game. With two games left until the All-Star break, it’s difficult to imagine when and where they’ll find it again. They don’t even seem to know.