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.