Another week has passed and the Brooklyn Nets have now sunken further into an abyss that’s becoming more and more messy seemingly with each passing game. Why can’t this team get anything going? Injuries have played a role for sure. Brook Lopez still isn’t back on the floor after he sprained his ankle in Phoenix just over a week ago. Ditto for Deron Williams, whose ankle trouble dates all the way back to the offseason. It remains to be seen if Andrei Kirilenko will ever be right in 2013-14. He’s missed the majority of the season with back spasms that according to him are “worse than they’ve ever been.” Is Jason Kidd on the hot seat? Is Kevin Garnett right when he says “this is only November” or should fans officially be concerned with this team?
Last week: 1-3 (4-11 overall)
Friday, Nov. 22: The Nets visit Minnesota and get destroyed, 111-81
Folks, it absolutely does not get worse than this. On a night where Kevin Garnett got a standing ovation in what may be his last visit to Minnesota, it was the Timberwolves new franchise power forward, Kevin Love, who lead the way in a 30-point win that, if you can believe it, wasn’t even that close. Garnett drilled a top-of-the-key jumper to put the Nets up 2-0, and that’s about where the avalanche started. Brooklyn trailed by sixteen at the end of the first quarter and never managed to get closer than that.
“Everybody’s frustrated,” Garnett said after the game. “I don’t think there’s a happy person in here or a guy who’s smiling. There’s nothing to be smiling about right now.”
Garnett’s frustration boiled over in the third quarter when he elbow-checked Kevin Love for basically no reason, leading to a flagrant foul and a technical. The Wolves got six points on the possession and the cheap shot spearheaded a 16-0 run to put the game away for good. Stat of the night in this one? The Nets finish the evening with seven total assists. SEVEN. Yuck.
Sunday, Nov. 24: Second half woes continue for Nets, who start off strong before giving way to the Pistons in Brooklyn, 109-97
It was a strong first half for the Nets, who went into the locker room with seven point lead at home in a Sunday matinee against a struggling Detroit Pistons team. But again, the third quarter reared its ugly head. The Pistons outscored the Nets 34-15 in the stanza and took a lead they’d never relinquish. Rodney Stuckey scored 27 points off the bench for the Pistons and got to the rim basically at will with Brook Lopez still nursing an ankle injury. Much like last year, the Nets are having an increasingly difficult time trying to find ways to win without their center on the floor. It showed on the glass as well, where the Pistons tallied 13 offensive rebounds and out-rebounded Brooklyn for the night, 44-35. Bright spot? Joe Johnson, who went a career high 8-for-10 from deep and finished with 34 points. Johnson has quietly played pretty well for the Nets, but the poor guy needs a little help.
Tuesday, Nov. 26: Brooklyn snaps a five-game skid and survives a late come back in Toronto, holding on for a 102-100 win over the Raptors
“That last three minutes was almost a disaster,” Paul Pierce said after the Nets snuck out of Toronto with a win Tuesday night. “Fortunately we built such a big lead. If it was any closer, we would have lost tonight.” If this is the reaction the Nets are going to have after wins, it’s going to be a long season. In any affect, a win is a win is the old saying, and Brooklyn won for the first time in six tries, and against the DIVISION LEADING TORONTO RAPTORS no less. Of course, the fact that Toronto leads the Atlantic Division says more about the state of things in the Eastern Conference than the Toronto Raptors as a team. They are, after all, below .500. Brooklyn had a 101-86 lead with 5:22 left in this one but only managed to score one point the rest of the way, as Toronto finished the night on a 15-1 run. Down two with the ball, the Raptors got a great look for the win when Amir Johnson was left open for a corner three. The ball clanked front rim, time expired, and Jason Kidd exhaled.”Those guys in that locker room finally said they’d had enough,” Kidd said. “There’s a bunch of guys in there with pride and they understood what they had to do tonight.” Again, a win is a win. Andray Blatche led the way with 24 points. For Toronto, DeMar DeRozan had 27.
Wednesday Nov. 27: Brooklyn’s huge comeback falls short as the Nets lose at home to the Lakers, 99-94
Throughout the first quarter, it looked like “same ol’ 2013-14 Nets” and the game appeared as though it would get out of hand. The Nets went into the second quarter already in a sixteen point hole, then Jordan Farmar, yes, THAT Jordan Farmar, erupted for five threes to push the lead all the way up to 26. The Nets fought back, however, cutting the lead to a manageable 16 points at halftime and even coming all the way back to tie it late in the fourth quarter. Mirza Teletovic, the much maligned Bosnian forward who hasn’t contributed much since coming over from Bosnia to Brooklyn, had maybe his best game in the states yet, scoring 17 big points in 21 minutes and keeping Brooklyn alive late. With the game tied, Brooklyn had a chance to take the lead for good, but Wesley Johnson intercepted a pass for a breakaway dunk to give the Lakers the lead for good. Again the Nets had chances in this one. With eight seconds left, Brooklyn was forced to foul. After Jodie Meeks made the first free throw, Jason Kidd had his zaniest moment yet as a head coach. Out of timeouts, Kidd may or may not have intentionally dropped a soda on the court, causing a stoppage in play. The stoppage ended up being a defacto timeout, and after Blake made the second free throw, the Nets got a wide-open look from Paul Pierce at the top of three point arc to tie the game. The shot missed long, and the Lakers held on.
LAST WEEK’S MVP: Joe Johnson
It’s clear the plantar fasciitis is all the way behind Joe Johnson, who has been Brooklyn’s best player pretty much by default of late. Johnson was viewed coming into the season as a bit of an afterthought; a guy who’d struggle to find a role on a team full of all-stars. Injuries have changed things, and this was Johnson’s best week of the year to date. Brooklyn’s starting shooting guard averaged 22 points per contest, but the Nets finished just 1-3. If he can continue to play like this when the calvary arrives, the Nets have a decent chance of digging out of this hole.
LAST WEEK’S LVP: Paul Pierce
You want “the truth”? Paul Pierce has been positively awful since he put on the Brooklyn black. How bad? Try 37 percent from the floor and 28 percent from 3 on 10 shots per game bad. Or worse, 32 percent from the floor in his last 10 games. Pierce capped off another miserable week with an absolute stinker at home against the Lakers. For the night, Pierce went 4-for-17 and his last miss was a wide open, game-tying three, the type of shot he used to drill routinely in Boston. What happened to this guy?
“I was coming out and he was in my way,” Tyshawn Taylor responded after being asked if the soda stunt was intentional. “I was like, ‘Coach, get outta my way, bro!’” So both Taylor and Kidd are sticking to the “accident” story. Whatever the case may have been, one thing is for sure, Jason Kidd bought the Nets a timeout they didn’t have and it led to a great look at the end of a close game. Video evidence suggests Kidd asked Taylor to “hit me” just before the incident happened. So, was it terrific gamesmanship on the part of Jason Kidd? Or was it a cheap, bush-league stunt by a desperate coach? Either way, the NBA was none too pleased and made Jason Kidd’s pockets a bit lighter on Turkey Day; fining him $50,000 for the incident.
Mirza makes it Rain
The Brooklyn Nets felt they were adding a key piece when they brought Mirza Teletovic to Brooklyn last off-season. After leading his league in scoring in Europe, the Bosnian stretch 4 arrived to the states with some fairly lofty expectations. Unfortunately the contributions were few and far between for a player Nets fans were growing increasingly frustrated with. Where was the guy in all the highlight videos and who the heck was this George McFly look-alike throwing up air balls all the time? But injuries and poor play up front opened up a window for Mirza, and he’s responded well lately. His 17-point explosion against the Lakers helped keep the Nets in the game and his ability to make smart basketball plays consistently may help him take the rotation spot of Reggie Evans for the immediately future. Stay tuned.
About as a tough a back-to-back a banged up team can face. The Brooklyn Nets head to Houston Friday night to take on Dwight Howard and the Rockets. That’ll be followed by a trip to Memphis to face Zack Randolph and the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday. If Brook Lopez isn’t back for either game, this could be a very ugly weekend for this team.