Weekly wrapup: An unfortunate turn of events
Up close & personal with frustration
By Brian Faith
After a stirring win in Phoenix last Friday night, the Nets took on the Clippers without Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Brook Lopez, or Andrei Kirilenko a day later. The undermanned Nets hung around the Clippers, but ultimately the game got away from them in the fourth quarter. On Monday, The Nets returned to the Barclays Center with an eye on turning things around, and for one quarter it seemed like they finally had. Kevin Garnett got the offense rolling early, knocking down his first six shots for 12 points. The Nets were pinging the ball around the perimeter and finding the open man. Wesley Matthews kept the Blazers in the game with his hot shooting from deep, but still, the Nets were feeling great after a 40-point first quarter. The first quarter shot chart was a thing of beauty and it looked as if Brooklyn was going to put an emphatic stop to the Blazers six-game winning streak.
The Nets scored 58 points the rest of the game and suffered a demoralizing 108-98 loss. Kevin Garnett missed 11 of final 13 attempts. Paul Pierce struggled all night, ending up 2 for 12 from the field. Joe Johnson, savior against the Suns, plodded his way to a dismal 4-12 performance. The lone bright spot for the Nets was Shaun Livingston, the reliable backup who’s been the team’s most consistent player this season. In 29 minutes, Livingston did all he could to keep the Nets close in the second half. He sliced and diced his way to 23 points, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.
After the game the Nets closed off the locker room for more than 25 minutes. Once inside, the only players made available were Tornike Shengelia, Mason Plumlee, Alan Anderson, Jason Terry, and Livingston. To their credit, Plumlee, Terry, and Livingston were forthcoming about the night’s struggles and the temperament of the team following the dispiriting effort. Terry was the most optimistic.
“You’re missing your key big man and your star point guard. S—, I don’t know how much success you’re going to have without that,” he wondered. And later, “Again, there are brighter days ahead. I guarantee that.”
More than 45 minutes earlier Coach Kidd tried to deflect the impending doom from his players.
He opened his post-game press conference by bluntly stating, “Just bad coaching. I take the blame for this.”
The next day Garnett and Pierce finally addressed the closed-door players meeting. They both skipped out on the media following the game the night before.
“The talk was just basketball. Obviously a part of it, a lot of it could have been frustration, but it was immediate, just things that you saw. Right after the game, you’re fired up and still going with that same intensity and you’re speaking how you’re feeling,” Garnett explained.
The details of the actual meeting matter far less than the fact that the meeting was held at all. The last second against the Suns was supposed to signal a Phoenix-like rise back in Brooklyn. The debacle Monday night set the Nets back emotionally, and now they are worse off than before. To their credit, the team remains optimistic, trying to take things game by game, recognizing there are still more than 70 games left on the schedule, and realizing they are far from a complete version of themselves.
The Nets sunk themselves yet again on Wednesday in Charlotte with another miserable third quarter performance. They were outscored 30-20 in what became a four-point loss. The Nets have now been outscored 1,342 to 50 in third quarters this season. Sadly, that level of hyperbole doesn’t feel that far from the truth. The Nets are now out of time. Regardless of injuries, chemistry issues, schedule, coaching strategies, and everything else, they have to start winning games. Good teams find different ways to win. So far, Brooklyn has found different ways to lose.
A 3-8 start isn’t a death sentence, and the Nets have a heavy slate of home games coming in December. At some point though, enough is enough. No more excuses. No more ducking the media. No more hope for the future. The time is now, and if this collection of veterans doesn’t seize the moment, they’ll have wasted a golden opportunity.
A real warning sign
By Erin M. Routson
How do I know something is amiss this Nets season? I was in attendance Monday night versus the Blazers, and something was missing. Someone was missing, rather. Jeffrey Gamblero, the jersey and glasses-clad dancing dude who you know you’ve seen, only made the Jumbotron ONCE. He wasn’t tearing it up like the long-lost Bushwick cousin of LMFAO of last season. This is a problem. We need you, guy. We need your energy. We need your grin on the Jumbotron eight times a game! Our secret is you. Lead us back to a winning record, one cabbage-patch move at a time.