The Nets used their blossoming athleticism to hang tough with a desperate Washington Wizards team without John Wall for three quarters, but it was, surprise, not meant to last. With the Wizards pushing for one of the last playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, they turned the ball over just two times in the second half and outlasted the Nets through Bradley Beal’s 25 points on 11-15 shooting.
Beal, Gortat, Beal, Porter, Timeout.
In a blaze of glory, it looked like the Nets would waste no time in setting fire to their small-ball lineup that heavily featured Bojan Bogdanovic at power forward. Since the Nets have little incentive to lose or win, much of what’s left is simple experimentation. With Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young (henceforth written as Brad) shut down for the season and Willie Reed officially away from the team for personal reasons, that left Thomas “I’d like to play 20 minutes a game” Robinson to soak up much of those frontcourt minutes.
Robinson, a total gamer and up to the challenge, would not let those Nets go down without a fight. In fact, his early 8 points on 4-5 shooting, including an impressive left-handed and-1, helped the Nets draw even at 21-21. However, perhaps coincidently, the Nets promptly lost any good favor they curried once Robinson went to the bench. The Wizards started to pull away through Ramon Sessions and Beal, who each had 7 first quarter points, but the Nets weren’t ready to lay down quite yet.
Once again, it was the energetic bunch from the bench that would scrap well into the second half — starring Chris McCullough, Henry Sims, and Markel Brown. After a couple of back-to-back steals, and one massive jam by Brown, the Nets were right back in this thing — and, as usual, we’re not how.
Again, the Nets let an opposing team do whatever they wanted, this time involving a Wizards team that shot 58% from the floor. Consequently, the Wizards led the way in turnovers (10 to Brooklyn’s 3), so the Nets continued to hang on longer than they probably should have. Through McCullough’s huge block, a smattering of buckets from Henry Sims (8 points), and an overturned Otto Porter Jr. three-pointer, the Nets were within 2 with 4 minutes left in the half.
In many ways, it’s not surprising that the Nets have looked raw and disjointed throughout the season, especially so since Brad’s departure, because they are just constantly spitballing on the offensive end. This can be both good and bad — as evidenced by this game against Washington and nearly every other game this year. For all the Nets’ faults and shortcomings, they are youth and athletic now, but those merits can only take you so far.
These concerns were swiftly met with a 12-5 run by Washington to start the second half. For all the praise that Robinson deserves for single-handedly carrying the Nets offensively (23 points), he hardly contained Marcin Gortat and his 16 points on 6-10 grew the Wizards’ lead to double-digits without resistance. Alas, Robinson provides little-to-no rim protection, nor can he rebound everything all on his own. The Wizards, who out-rebounded the Nets 53-38, took care of the ball much better in the second half, pushing for a crucial win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
Despite a couple of this-is-not-hyperbole insane dunks from Brown and Robinson, the Nets were down 88-75 after three quarters, all thanks to the laundry list of typical offenders. Four members of the Wizards’ starting lineup (M. Morris had 9) scored in double-figures with relative ease as the they were in cruise control Tony Brown could even make his substitutes.
Sean Kilpatrick, whose 15 points won’t show up in tonight’s grades, officially became the Net with the most double-digit scoring games (15) this season, but he still just made one of his three-point attempts. However, generally speaking, you’ve got to do a few of these things to win a basketball game: win the rebound battle, make more three-pointers, have less turnovers, shoot a higher FG%, make more free throws, or outwork the opposing side.
The Nets achieved exactly one of those itemized goals as they registered just one less turnover than the Wizards.
4 games left.