The Nets lose a tight one to the Hornets – 116-111.
After an exhilarating win against the Teague-less Hawks last night, the Nets travelled down south to face the Hornets in Charlotte today. The game began well for the Nets, who’s starting line-up of Jack, Johnson, Hollis-Jefferson, Young, and Lopez has outscored opponents by 15.8 points per 100 possessions so far this year. Johnson, who despite his $25 million paycheck, has been struggling to score this season, put up a quick 13 points within the first 12 minutes, including three 3 pointers.
However, as usual, the bench unit looked less than stellar in this game. While Shane Larkin and Thomas Robinson were both net positives for the Nets in the second quarter, the rest of the bench floundered – opting to take low percentage mid-range shots rather than quality inside or outside looks. Luckily for the Nets, Charlotte missed shots and had 3 more turnovers than the Nets, resulting in a 56-52 lead for Brooklyn at the half.
Despite some improvement on defense over the last few games, the Nets lost their footing in that department early on. In the clip below, earlier threes by bigs Spencer Hawes and Frank Kaminsky forced Lopez, Young, and Bargnani out of the paint, resulting in a ridiculously easy inside look for Charlotte. Indeed, Charlotte’s plan to spread the floor is working nicely. They are currently ranked 8th in three point efficiency, while attempting the 6th highest number of threes per game. Compare that to the Nets, who are ranked dead last in those categories, and games like these become hard to win for Brooklyn.
Even when the Nets were in position to protect the rim, they did not hold up to the Hornets. While Charlotte allowed just 50% of Brooklyn’s contested shots at the rim, the Nets allowed an inexcusable 74%. When you combine that with Charlotte’s killer 3pt mentality and the fact that the Nets made 40% of their contested shots compared to Charlotte’s 48%, it becomes clear why this game was lost. With stats like these, it’s time to change tact. Both defensively and offensively.
The Nets hung in there in the fourth, but a couple of tough calls against Lopez (including a questionable illegal screen) and a strange final shot attempt, sealed the deal for Charlotte.
Is this an illegal screen by Lopez, or a flop by Walker?
Lopez takes a less than ideal final shot – but where was the help?
The Nets effort has certainly picked up over the last few games, but unfortunately they are not executing when it matters in close games. Unless the other team is just missing shots, the Nets cannot outscore opponents. Some things need to change on both ends of the floor if the Nets do not want to give up a top pick to the Boston Celtics.