Web Site: http://www.alltimehoops.com
Bio: Ian Parfrey is the author of Ten Thousand Minutes: Pro Player Rankings 1952-2012. His next project is a history of Brooklyn basketball. He's also an avid rec softball player who gets at least 500 at bats a year. He was born in East Flushing, Queens, and now lives in Greenpoint with his wife and daughter.
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By Ian Parfrey @Ianparfrey
The first step towards NBA recovery is winning the games you’re supposed to win. The Nets did that again tonight in Milwaukee, winning 90-82 behind a tremendous 32-point performance from Brook Lopez.
Lopez was almost perfect, making 11 of 13 from the floor and 10 of 11 free throws. He added 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocked shots.
The Milwaukee Bucks are probably the worst team in the league right now. Their promising young center, Larry Sanders, is out indefinitely after injuring his thumb in a bar fight. His backup, Zaza Pachulia, was unavailable with a foot injury, and that left third-stringer Ekpe Udoh to try to battle Brook Lopez.
Still, the game remained close for three quarters. Lopez scored 20 of his points in the first half, outscoring the rest of his teammates, and the Nets went in to the half trailing 40-39. The Nets took the lead for good late in the third quarter, and got some big plays down the stretch from Kevin Garnett and Joe Johnson.
Garnett, who missed his first seven shots, made his only two baskets of the game in the final 3:24, and blocked two shots at the rim in that span as well. Joe Johnson had a quiet 15 points, but contributed 3 of his 5 assists in the final frame, and made the shot that put the Bucks away for good with 43 seconds left.
For once, the Nets were the team that made halftime adjustments. They attacked the undersized Bucks on the offensive boards in the second half, and at times, the ball movement looked almost fluid.
Jason Kidd changed up his rotation a little tonight. Shaun Livingston was restored to the starting lineup, and played 35 minutes. Reggie Evans replaced Mason Plumlee as the second big man off the bench. Toko Shengelia, thankfully, did not appear.
O.J. Mayo led the Bucks with 22 points. The Nets are off until Tuesday, when they face the division leading Boston Celtics at home. The Nets may have Deron Williams back for that game.
By Ian Parfrey @Ianparfrey
After two consecutive sickening losses at home, maybe we’re asking the wrong questions. The Nets entered what should have been an easy three weeks of their schedule last night by getting blown off of the Barclays floor by the equally hopeless Knicks, in a gross display of lethargic offense and clueless defense.
The Nets made 31 trips to the free throw line, compared to 11 by the Knicks, and it still didn’t matter. The game was over midway through the third quarter, when Iman Shumpert knocked down three triples sandwiched and then almost succeeded in throwing down a monster slam over three Net defenders.
Shumpert, who came in averaging more trade rumors than points per game, would have ripped the heart out of the Nets. Except the Nets haven’t shown any heart since they beat Miami over a month ago.
I don’t know if there are any easy fixes at this point. The long awaited return of Deron Williams will help. But. The Nets are dead last in defensive efficiency, and DWill isn’t going to help much in that regard. The Nets will score more points and creep back towards averageness, which may be enough in this year’s East to make the playoffs.
But there are obvious fundamental flaws all over this team. It starts with the defense, where Kevin Garnett hasn’t provided the expected benefits. Andrea Bargnani got whatever he wanted against Garnett all night, including a dunk where he blew by a stationery Garnett on the right baseline that you’ll probably see way too many highlights of.
Maybe Garnett is too old to do anything besides bark at opponents once the game is already out of hand. Maybe Garnett shouldn’t be playing power forward anymore (the Celtics came to that conclusion sometime in 2011). Maybe Jason Kidd is in way, way over his head.
My guess is that someone’s going to take the fall for this, and soon. Reassigning Lawrence Frank isn’t going to turn this around. And firing a former franchise hero with $10 million left on his contract doesn’t seem like the kind of PR disaster the Nets want to get into just now. Besides, as the Warriors and Mark Jackson can tell you, sometimes patience with a struggling first year coach pays off.
No, my feeling is that Billy King’s head is about to roll. The Nets are probably out of moves as far as this season is concerned, since all their players are either untouchable (Brook, DWill), untradeable (Joe and the ex Celtics), or not making enough money to matter either way.
The question that any knowledgable fan or billionaire owner should be asking is, “do we trust Billy King to get out of this mess he’s made?”
When answering, consider a) the Nets’ current horrible record, and b) the three unprotected picks that went to Boston, plus the pick swaps that will prevent the Nets from picking in their own spot until 2019.
I know what my answer is.
By Ian Parfrey @Ianparfrey
The schedule is about to do the Nets a huge favor. After tomorrow night’s home game against the Denver Nuggets, the Nets’ next 8 opponents have a collective record of 52 wins and 87 losses. The Los Angeles Clippers are the only team in that stretch with a winning record.
To be more precise, after Tuesday, the Nets will face the Knicks, Bucks, Celtics, Clippers, Pistons, Wizards, and the Sixers twice. Yes, they’ll go through this stretch without Paul Pierce (broken hand), and Deron Williams may not return for another week, but that should still be good enough to make some hay against these pitiful opponents.
The Nets should have gone through these teams like Mike Tyson fighting my grandmother. Instead, they’ll need all these games for their desperate push towards .500.
Yes, Pierce’s injury is a setback. But Pierce had made 22 of his last 78 shots (28.2 percent), and was being outplayed by Alan Anderson and Mirza Teletovic.
Saturday’s win over Memphis was encouraging. The Nets did what they needed to do against a team that was also missing a few key pieces. Compare to that to the Knicks, who managed to lose at home to the Pelicans last night in a game where Anthony Davis broke his hand in the first quarter.
If you can’t win winnable games, you’re not going to the playoffs as anything other than an eighth seed. If the Nets can continue to take care of business, they at least have a shot at the division title and a favorable first round matchup.
The rest of the week wasn’t so encouraging. The Nets took care of business in Toronto, but dug a deep hole against the Lakers at home the next night and fell short. Then they were blown off the floor by the Rockets on Friday.
Quick, athletic teams continue to be a problem, and they will be as long as the Nets have so many graybeards on the roster, and don’t even have a healthy DWill to try to fight fire with fire.
Players of the Week: The Nets sure missed Brook Lopez, didn’t they? Lopez made shot after shot down the stretch to put the Grizzlies away. Without him, the team just doesn’t have a consistent scoring threat. Joe Johnson and Andray Blatche have been too inconsistent. They combined for 47 points against Memphis, one night after combining for 5 points (on 2 of 16 FG) against the Rockets.
Mason Plumlee has been impressive so far. Nice touch around the basket, doesn’t try to force anything on offense. His defense and rebounding haven’t really showed up yet, but he’s looking like a nice find for the 22nd pick. Mirza Teletovic is averaging 14 points on 46 percent shooting over the past 3 games.
By Ian Parfrey @Ianparfrey
Joe Johnson scored 16 of his 26 points in the first quarter, and Brook Lopez scored 12 of his 20 in the fourth quarter to help the Nets to a much-needed road win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
This game could become a turning point for the Nets, who have a favorable schedule over the next three weeks. They beat a team that plays a favorable style of ball (slow), and was equally depleted by injury (both Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph were out tonight). It was a winnable game, and the Nets responded, and showed no ill effects from last night’s beatdown in Houston. This bodes well for a nine-game stretch where they’ll mostly be facing the soft underbelly of the Eastern Conference.
Joe Johnson’s early scoring barrage got the Nets going in the right direction. He scored 11 points in the final 2:09 of the first, including a three to beat the first quarter buzzer. Johnson sparked a 30-10 run that gave the Nets a 15-point lead.
The Nets were holding a 73-60 lead late in the third quarter, when Memphis reserve Quincy Pondexter (22 points) suddenly caught fire. In a three-minute stretch, Pondexter scored the Grizzlies’ next 14 points, and cut the Nets’ lead to 75-74 with 9:41 left in the fourth.
Mirza Teletovic scored 5 straight points, on a turnaround jumper and a three, to push the lead back to six points, and then Brook Lopez took over. Lopez had gotten off to a bad start, making only 1 of his first 7 shots, but finally found his rhythm against the Grizzlies’ unremarkable front line of Kosta Koufos and Ed Davis. Lopez scored 4 baskets on the inside and added 4 free throws, and then Joe Johnson put the game away with a three that put the Nets up 96-80 with under three minutes remaining.
Jason Kidd made a few changes in the starting lineup. The new starters didn’t contribute much– Alan Anderson was scoreless in 28 minutes, and Tyshawn Taylor finished with 6 points, 0 assists, and 3 turnovers. However, it seemed that the players who did not start got the message. Andray Blatche chipped in 21 points and 8 rebounds, and was also a perfect 3-for-3 from downtown. Shaun Livingston, though he only had 4 points and 4 assists in the boxscore, was much more effective than he’s been of late.
The Nets are in action again Tuesday night at home against the Denver Nuggets.
By Ian Parfrey @Ianparfrey
Another day, another blowout loss to a young, fast paced team. All you need to know about this one: starters not named Brook Lopez scored 7 points on 3 of 23 shooting. The Nets trailed by 19 in the first quarter, and never competed.
Trailing 66-40 at halftime, Jason Kidd sent out a unit of Brook Lopez and four bench players. This doubled as a white flag and a message to the other starters. The bench unit was far more watchable, as Mirza Teletovic (18 points, 13 rebounds) and Tyshawn Taylor (16 points, 12 assists) racked up some stats, and played with an energy that was completely missing in the first half.
The Nets are now 4-12, and any hope of a 60-win season and a high playoff seed is completely gone. Since this isn’t what Mikhail Prokhorov thought he was (over)paying for, the biggest excitement of the next few weeks is likely to be seeing which heads roll first.
Brook Lopez returned to action after missing 7 games with an ankle sprain, and he chipped in 16 points in 21 minutes. Other than that, it’s hard to point to anything the Nets did well. Energetic play by non-rotation players in extended garbage time isn’t really a positive.
The Nets are disastrously slow on both sides of the ball. We’re seeing Shaun Livingston’s limitations at running an offense exposed. Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce seem content to meander aimlessly above the free throw line and jack up contested jumpers. Everything unfolds at a snail’s pace that’s extremely easy to defend.
On the other end the Nets simply can’t guard anybody. The Rockets made 19 threes (on only 32 attempts), as any small action, such as a James Harden penetration, a Dwight Howard post up, or Paul Pierce decomposing on the court, freed open Houston’s dangerous wing shooters. Chandler Parsons scored 21 points on 7 of 7 shooting, including 6 threes. Francisco Garcia knocked down 5 of 7. Omri Casspi was perfect in 3 attempts from downtown.
Yes, the Rockets have some terrific shooters who don’t need a lot of space to get going. But the Nets made it easy for them, with out of position help defenders scrambling to the shooters far too late.
It starts with the backcourt defense, where Shaun Livingston’s surgically repaired knee and Joe Johnson’s 240 pound frame can’t keep anyone in front of them, and Deron Williams’ bad ankles weren’t faring any better.
I don’t know what the solution to that is. Tyshawn Taylor could theoretically make a niche for himself by harassing opposing point guards all the way up the court, but is he anything close to an NBA rotation player? Will Kidd get desperate enough to give it a try?
The Nets limp into Memphis tomorrow with their season already slipping away. The Grizzlies are off to an 8-7 start, are without Marc Gasol, and play at the league’s slowest pace, so the Nets have a decent chance of grabbing a win and stopping the bleeding… or delaying the inevitable.
By Ian Parfrey @Ianparfrey
The Nets failed to win a game in Week 4, and didn’t even come all that close, dropping games to Portland, Charlotte, Minnesota, and Detroit.
One troubling pattern left over from last season is that the Nets come out flat in the third quarter. They held halftime leads against the Blazers and the Pistons, and trailed by only 3 points against Charlotte. But the Nets were outscored 124-71 in third quarters this week, and it’s really hard to win games when that keeps happening.
The Nets have changed the coaching staff, and Joe Johnson is the only healthy starter left over from last year. So what gives? From looking at the team’s pitiful performance so far this year, their offense doesn’t look too different from the Johnson / Carlesimo offense, and maybe Kidd hasn’t had a chance to stamp his identity on the team yet, or get the players to buy in to whatever he’s doing.
The team’s defensive struggles have become even more pronounced, as Kevin Garnett has not provided the expected defensive benefits; Paul Pierce isn’t the energy guy or team defender that Gerald Wallace was (yeah, I can’t believe I said that either); and the Nets can’t contain quicker guards, or stop pick and rolls.
The Nets are now last in the league in defensive efficiency. They don’t force turnovers, they don’t rebound the ball, and they foul constantly. Still.
Joe Johnson had a good week. He scored 34 points (including 8 threes) in the loss to Detroit, and shot the ball well in three of the Nets’ four games. If Johnson can rise to the occasion and lead this team to a couple of short handed wins, it would be a big help.
Mason Plumlee has done a decent job in increased minutes, and Andray Blatche has been less erratic of late.
Neither Deron Williams nor Brook Lopez appear to be close to returning. If I had to guess, both might be ready to return by the road trip to Houston and Memphis at the end of the week.
Having a road trip to Houston and Memphis could also be considered a problem, as both of those teams ate the Nets’ lunch last year. The Grizzlies will be without Marc Gasol (knee), so there’s that.
After a strong start, Shaun Livingston has crashed back to earth. Livingston is 3 of 18 with 8 turnovers in the Nets’ last three games. His only backup is Tyshawn Taylor, and Jason Kidd might want to start experimenting with no-point-guard lineups. Not that those usually work, but Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce are both decent playmakers, it’ll create more minutes for Alan Anderson, and how much worse can things get, anyway?
Pierce and Garnett still look nothing like the guys who kept the Celtics together last year after Rajon Rondo went down. I think managing their minutes is now the least of the Nets’ worries.
Around the League:
The big news, of course, is that Derrick Rose tore the meniscus in his other knee, and will miss the rest of the season. You can’t count out a Tom Thibodeau team, but they’re a lot thinner in the backcourt to begin with this year (no Nate Robinson), and this probably ends their chance of seriously contending for anything.
The Nets’ game in Toronto tomorrow night is a big one. The Raptors (6-7) lead the divison, and while they’re a solid defensive team, they don’t terrify anyone. Two of their five starters are shooting under 40 percent (including Rudy Gay, who won’t be a walking advertisement for Lasik surgery anytime soon). If the Nets ever mean to wake up and stake a claim for the division title, beating the very beatable Raptors would be a good start.
The Nets then return home to face the Lakers on Wednesday, and the Lakers may have Kobe Bryant (Achilles) back in the lineup. Unfortunately, that’s probably the selling point for watching that game, which is a throwback to the bad old Jersey days (come see LeBron, Kobe, Durant, etc. beat the Nets!).
The East River rivalry is basically floating face up in said river by now, but the Knicks will be coming to the Barclays on December 5 to try to wrest last place away from the Nets.
By Ian Parfrey @Ianparfrey
Did the Nets hit rock bottom tonight? If they didn’t, I don’t want to know what that will look like. The Timberwolves, who are a much better team than they used to be, crushed the Nets, 111-81, in a game that was close for about seven minutes.
The Nets’ effort and execution on both sides of the ball was completely lacking. They didn’t move the ball, they weren’t able to get anything going towards the basket, and they committed careless turnovers. On defense, the Nets sometimes stopped the initial shot, but they allowed the Wolves 17 offensive rebounds, some of them embarrassingly easy putbacks by Kevin Love (17 points, 16 rebounds).
While the shooting numbers were fairly close (the Wolves shot 41.2% and the Nets 39.7%), every other team statistic favored Minnesota. They won the turnover battle 20-8, and the offensive glass 17-10; which gave them 19 more shot attempts than the Nets.
Andray Blatche led the Nets with 16 points, and Joe Johnson added 15. Paul Pierce (2 of 11, 6 points) and Shaun Livingston (0 of 7, 1 point, 0 assists) both had extremely bad nights.
The game also featured some ill-timed fireworks from Kevin Garnett, who threw an elbow at Kevin Love early in the third quarter. Garnett was charged with a type 1 flagrant and a technical foul. The Nets trailed by 16 at the time, but the Wolves got three free throws and possession, and ended up scoring the game’s next 16 points to put it completely out of reach.
The Wolves led by as many as 37 points. It was not pretty, to say the least.
It’s difficult to pinpoint a cure for what ails the Nets, because it seems like everything is going wrong at once. The offense is stagnant, and way too reliant on low percentage jump shots. That leads to the Nets being forced to defend in transition, which they’re not very good at. Jason Kidd, 12 games into his coaching career, is already sitting on a very hot seat, and the team’s performance tonight did nothing to ease the pressure on him.
The Nets will be back in action Sunday afternoon at home against the similarly struggling Detroit Pistons.