The Nets hang in there, but inevitably succumb to the tough Grizz, 101-91.
There was little hope coming in to tonight’s back-to-back match-up against the Grizzlies, but for the most part, the Nets showed an improvement over their performance in the last two games. The opening tip saw Markel Brown starting over Wayne Ellington – a move that only emphasised Brooklyn’s lack of any sort of anything at that position. Just as I was about to slump into my chair and cry a little, Brown whipped an overhead pass to a cutting Joe Johnson in the paint, and I was like yeah, he is probably better than Ellington right about now.
Straight away, the Grizzlies’ patented defence shone through, as Joe Johnson tried to dribble in the vicinity of Tony Allen, and promptly had the ball stolen. This set off a chain reaction of turnovers that had my blood boiling, and all I could do was stop and notice how on-point Thaddeus Young’s shoe game is:
However, the Nets’ offence at least came out blazing, with a quick 4/4FG, and they managed to shoot 48% from the field for the game (and 50eFG%) – a large improvement over Friday’s game, where they shot just 40%.
But as the game went on, the Nets continued trying to be too fancy with the ball, resulting in more turnovers, and a deflating Memphis lead. In addition, as is much too common with this team, there were simply too many possessions in which the Nets did not run any kind of discernible offense, instead opting to run at defenders or take tough fade-away midrange jumpers. I could only yell, “Noooo!” and let my head thud against the table.
And to top that off, Lopez picked up his third foul in the first quarter, forcing Hollins to sit him for much of the game. This left the fate of the team in the hands of the bench. Yikes.
But, to my surprise, the Nets managed to hang in there, with 40 bench points. Check out this stat:
#Nets small samples: Bargs-TRob-RHJ-Bojan-Larkin: +33.1 net rating in 16 minutes Brook-Thad-Joe-Markel-Jack: -53.7 net rating in 15 minutes
— Mike Mazzeo (@MazzESPN) November 1, 2015
The surprise performance of the game was that of Bogdanovic, a second-year player I have not been a fan of, but who seems to have gained a lot of confidence this year. He turned into the go-to guy for much of the second half, and pulled off tough shots such as these ones, ending the game with 19 points.
If he can continue to do that, I will start to come around.
But the highlight for me was Thomas Robinson, a once-lottery pick who has been part of so many teams, that he clearly has something to prove. He was all over the place, out-hustling Gasol and Randolph for rebounds, and also played great defence when he was on Gasol, who, by-the-way, scored just 7 points and 4 rebounds for the night. Robinson ended the night with 8 points and 12 rebounds in just 15 minutes.
But again it was the lack of decent perimeter defending and a series of bad shots that lead to the Nets’ downfall. The Nets have incredibly poor three-point shooting (I predict they will finish dead last in the league in that category, as they are currently), not a great post-up game, and don’t tend to play pick-and-roll unless Lopez is out there (and even when he is, it is sorely lacking IMO). Most of the shots are drives into three defenders at the rim, or low-percentage, pull-up jumpers. And while the Nets actually shot fairly well from the field, watching the game makes it blatantly clear that they could do much better if only they made the extra pass , worked to get good looks from behind the arc, or let Lopez do his thing a little more often.
More of this, please:
Still, it was an achievement in of itself that the Nets actually got to do some intentional fouling at the end of the game, and they’ll take a loss of this kind on the road in the West. The next game is at home against the Bucks – a team with an average age much closer to that of the Nets’. Let’s hope the Nets can maintain the momentum built up in this game, and earn their first win of the season.