Just when you think the Nets can’t come up with a more disappointing way to lose, they blindside you with some astonishing act of inferiority. Sunday’s attraction was a lead-blowing loss to the lowly Washington Wizards (those Wizards who were missing Andray Blatche, Rashard Lewis, Josh Howard, and Nick Young) to the tune of a 98-92 score in the matinee.
The result itself wasn’t really the most troubling aspect of the game. Sure, the Wizards are bad, but all bets are off for the Nets when Deron Williams is out of the lineup like he was Sunday. The thing that irked me was that they blew a 17-point second-quarter lead by playing pathetic basketball in the second half.
Surprisingly, this game was not short on excellent individual performances by Nets players. Kris Humphries had 18 points, 17 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Brook Lopez had 21 points and 10 boards. Jordan Farmar had 10 points and 17 assists (a career high). Anthony Morrow had 19 points. Even Johan Petro had 8 points (now that’s a feat).
By the way, after this game, the Nets have now had three players (Farmar, Williams, Devin Harris) rack up at fewest one game with more than 17 assists this season. According to Basketball Reference, this is the first time that has happened to a team since 1986, when it started logging stats for its game finder.
It just goes to show that, in order to win, some team cohesiveness is more valuable than individual superiority. As a matter of fact, it also takes not playing like a high-school team in the second half. The Nets shot just 43 percent for the game, though that figure cleared 50 percent in the first half. No one this side of Morrow could buy a three. And the Nets certainly had no interest in holding onto the ball — they had 20 turnovers in the contest as a consequence of that “stingy” Wizards defense.
It was really a sight to see how bad the Nets’ offense was after the intermission, as they mustered only 36 points in the second half, and a mere 12 of those came in the third quarter. I often talk about some of the Nets’ units as offensive black holes. In the second half of the game, there was no telling a black hole from real space. There were few offensive sets, and even fewer that actually worked, as the plan stalled into: run around for 22 seconds and fire up a jumper. Lopez didn’t get nearly enough touches, while Humphries and Petro took more 17-footers than a New England marina.
Not to be outdone, the defense was also hilariously subpar. JaVale McGee shot 8-of-9 from the field. JaVale McGee. 8-of-9. From the field. The Nets made him look like Kareem out there. Jordan Crawford did his best Jamal Crawford impression by firing up 17 shots, but he still stung the Nets for 21 points. And Mo Evans looked more like Tyreke Evans.
But the Wizards performance that really hurt the most was John Wall’s. He could’ve been a Net. He should’ve been a Net. Instead, they got Farmar. Wall wasted no time in making the Nets regret that they got screwed by chance, as he torched them for 26 points on 11-of-22 shooting, to go along with 8 assists and 6 rebounds.
But what really took the cake was a pair of dagger jumpers he hit in the final minute to put the Nets out of their laughable misery. They were clinging to whatever hope they had left, and Wall buried two fadeaway midrange jumpers that, honestly, looked like shots a star would make. But who really doubted that Wall would get there at some point?
At this point, the playoffs can really be written out of the conversation. And after this game, even if the Nets did make the postseason, they wouldn’t deserve the seed. When Yi is happy to beat your team, that’s when you know you have a problem. Here’s to next season.