Recap: Brooklyn Nets 80, Chicago Bulls 105

The Brooklyn Nets led 55-53 early in the third quarter, then the Chicago Bulls went on a 48-18 run.

I really wanted those two sentences to be the entirety of this recap, but what the heck, let’s give some more examples of the Nets futility versus the Chicago Bulls. How about this: The Nets didn’t score in the 4th quarter until the 7:24 mark. They did not make a field goal until 7:02. Then of course there was this:

I’m not sure what to say about Cory Jefferson taking a 3 pointer that wouldn’t have gone in on a child’s basket. Who am I kidding, I’m not sure what to say about this game at all.

This was the third straight loss by at least 20 points for the Nets and there were almost no signs of hope. Yes we can use their missing pieces as an excuse: Brook Lopez is still out with a somewhat mysterious back injury. Joe Johnson is sick enough to miss two games (watching this game won’t make him less sick). Mirza Teletovic missed the game after banging his hip vs Cleveland.

The problem is that a Chicago team without Joachim Noah held the Nets to 33% shooting and 21% from behind the three point line. Bojan Bogdanovic was 0-5, Mason Plumlee was 3-11, Deron Williams was 5-15, and Jarrett Jack was 1-8. Just about the only bright spots of the night were a few plays by Sergey Karasev and the continuously improving play of Jerome Jordan, who finished with 10 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 steal in 29 minutes. Seriously, the rest is sadder than….well, the Knicks, they’re still pretty sad, so we’ve got that going for us.

Maybe we do need to look into some of those crazier trades…looking good Jennings and Smith!

This is a terrible photoshop. It’s the Brooklyn Nets of photoshopping.

I’ve got nothing else, the Nets were feisty but second best in the first half and completely overwhelmed by a far superior team in the second half. As far as player grades go, what the Nets have just done was not worthy of them. Nowhere in their uncoordinated, dispassionate play was anything that could be considered NBA basketball. Everyone watching is now dumber for having seen it. I award them no points, and may God have mercy on their souls.



Nets trade Kirilenko, future pick, cash for Davies

According to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, the Brooklyn Nets have traded Andrei Kirilenko, a 2020 second round pick, the right to swap 2018 second round picks and cash to their division rival Philadelphia 76ers for Brandon Davies. Woj also reports that the Nets will be sending a “minor player” over to Philly as well. Some Nets writers are expecting this to be point guard Jorge Gutierrez.

The Nets were rumored to be shopping Kirilenko for some time now, with the Sixers being an expected destination. Kirilenko hasn’t played since November 13th against the Warriors due to personal reasons. Davies is a four in his second NBA season and is averaging 6.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.

Sam Amick of USA Today Sports reports that this Nets trade will save Brooklyn around $12 million.


Some potential Nets trades

The Nets are holding are holding a fire sale and EVERYONE MUST GO!

ESPN has reported that Brooklyn has placed their (not-so) “Big 3” on the trading block after a less than impressive 8-11 start. I think it has become increasingly apparent that this core cannot contend for a championship or maybe even a playoff spot so they decided it’s time for some changes. Read More


The Brooklyn Nets Perimeter Defense: It’s Raining Threes

The 8-11 Brooklyn Nets are a worrying team. Simply listing all of their issues seems like it would be more like an exercise in masochism than a basketball article, so I’ve instead decided to focus on one issue at a time. Today’s trip down “what the heck are they doing” lane involved the Nets perimeter defense, specifically defending the three point shot.

The Nets have been giving up an above-average amount of three pointers all season, but it really came to a head during their recent game against Atlanta. In that game the Hawks shot a whopping 34 threes, many of them open looks. As I went back and looked at some Nets defensive tape (talk about an exercise in masochism), I noticed a pattern.

It’s no secret that the Brooklyn Nets don’t have a lot of rim protection, in fact it’s right about at “mall security” level. Sure they’re watching out for stuff, but at best they’re just going to yell a lot and wave their arms at some teenagers. Only 6 teams have fewer blocks per game (4.1), and only 9 allow more made field goals in the restricted area (16.7). The reason this is important is because of the pull it has on the perimeter.

Over and over and over again, players on the perimeter shade too far toward the lane as soon as the ball gets penetration (that sounds dirty. Yes, I am an adult…why?). Getting into the lane and kicking out to a shooter is so common it’s almost an involuntary tic, and shooters are being left open because of the perimeter shading…you see where this is going, right?

The result is that Brooklyn’s opponents are attempting 23.9 three pointers per game, 5th worst in the NBA. Only the 76ers, Thunder, Mavericks, and Lakers are worse. The Mavs have the highest offensive rating in the league and the Thunder just got their two all-world players back. The others are the Sixers and the Lakers. You do not want to be compared to the Sixers and the Lakers.

Before we get to what is actually an easy solution to this problem, let’s look at some photos that I have drawn all over with a crayon.

This first series is from the aforementioned Atlanta Hawks game:



There was no reason Bogdanovic shouldn’t have stayed with Korver. He didn’t get screened and he had been facing Lopez one beat before the second photo, so he should have known he was covering the rim. Also, IT’S KYLE KORVER…DON’T LEAVE HIM!

Okay, I’m calmed down now, so let’s check out a play from Monday night’s Cavaliers game:






I swear this wasn’t meant as a way to pick on Bojan, but here he is again. Much like the play above, Bogdanovic simply cheats all the way into the lane and is in an unrecoverable position when the ball goes to Jones. Once again, the cutter was covered.

Last one, another play versus the Cavs:



Four of the five Brooklyn Nets have a foot in the lane. A lane that has approximately 3/4 of one Cavalier player in it.

So what’s this easy solution I teased earlier? Not moving all the way into the lane. See, easy.

Without rim protection, it’s understandable that a coach would want his players keeping an eye on cutters. But maybe stop just outside the lane, especially on the strong side of the play. That way, the perimeter player has a chance at affecting a pass, but can still sprint out on a shooter.

Lionel Hollins has made small adjustments all season, and this is another one that is there for the adjusting. Just taking a few threes off of an opponent’s plate could mean the difference between winning and losing a few games…or at least losing by 12 instead of 18. Baby steps.


Brooklyn Nets to League: Take Our Players…Please!

In somewhat startling news this afternoon, ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ohm Youngmisuk are reporting that the Brooklyn Nets are looking into trading their trio of stars; Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Brook Lopez. This marks a significant change in mindset for the Nets who saw themselves as contenders in the Eastern Conference going into the season.

The revelation is still surprising since everyone seems to be a contender in the East. Brooklyn currently sits in the 8th seed despite being 8-11, although they are 8 games behind the Raptors for 1st place in both the conference and the Atlantic Division. Moves such as these would not be unheard of as a popular theory in the current NBA is that if you can’t be first you want to be cheap, young, and flexible. Unfortunately the Nets are not close to first, not flexible, not even a little bit young, and as far away from cheap as is reasonably possible.

This begs the obvious question: who is going to trade for either of those three and what could they get for them. Yes, Lopez, Williams, and Johnson are all very good players and could help quite a few teams. The problem is that this season those three are making more money than three entire NBA rosters: Philadelphia, Orlando, and Utah. Lopez is on a $15.7 million contract this season and $16.7 next season, Williams is $19.8 and $21 next season, and Johnson is a whopping $23.1 and $28.9 next season (all figures coming from Basketball Reference).

All of these contracts are huge and unwieldy and none of these players is in huge demand. They could probably wrestle Josh Smith away from Detroit or save New Orleans from Eric Gordon or Tyreke Evans, but why would they want to? Trying to find even a semi-viable trade is going to take some time, but luckily our crack staff (i.e. not me) is working on it right now so check back a little later for that.

Until then, hit that ESPN trade machine and let us know what you find out. See if you can do better than this one…who says no?!



Three Man Weave: Week Seven Edition

It could have been a huge week in Brooklyn. Wins against the New York Knicks and San Antonio Spurs presented the opportunity for the Nets’ first three-game winning streak of the season, until the Atlanta Hawks left the Barclays Center Friday night with a 23-point victory. Wednesday night’s overtime win against the reigning-NBA champions was the best performance of the season so far from the Nets and forward Mirza Teletovic, who scored 26 points with 15 rebounds after getting the start at power forward, but the loss to the Eastern Conference playoff-rival Hawks was just as disappointing from the team and Teletovic, who went scoreless on four shot attempts in his 19 minutes.

With four games on the schedule against a couple of Eastern Conference contenders and a home-and-away back-to-back, the Nets will have a tough test this week. Their effort and focus will be worth watching Monday against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Wednesday in Chicago, but also over the weekend against the struggling but athletic Philadelphia 76ers and in Charlotte against the underachieving Hornets. Starting center Brook Lopez will miss all four games after suffering a back strain, which the team will re-evaluate in a week and after an impending-MRI, further improving the degree of difficulty for the 8-10 Brooklyn Nets as they enter their four-game week.

This week our three experts will address the Brooklyn Nets’ big win against the San Antonio Spurs and subsequent blowout-loss to the Atlanta Hawks, and how the team can survive this challenging stretch of the schedule in Brook Lopez’s absence. Give us your take in the comments below.

1.) Let’s start with last week, and the inspiring overtime win against the San Antonio Spurs. The Nets were up by as many as 14 points for much of the fourth quarter before pulling the game out in extra time, and it has to count among the signature victories of the still-early season. Which was your favorite performance from that game and what, if anything, is sustainable going forward for the Nets?

Jonah Jordan: Mirza Teletovic was at his best against the Spurs. His minutes increased due to rest for Kevin Garnett and it looked like a move to keep an eye on going forward. Teletovic provides spacing and athleticism to a starting lineup struggling with a lack of both.

Brian McNichols: Can it be anyone other than the Bosnian Bomber, Mirza Teletovic? No, no it can’t. 26 points on 9 for 13 (5 for 7 from 3) and 15 rebounds in a whopping 43 minutes. While that output is probably not totally sustainable, more Mirza is something everyone wants to see. Another thing that is a good sign is Brook Lopez grabbing 16 boards and dishing 3 assists (instantly increasing his season total by 38%). He shot terribly (6 for 17), but Brook crashing the boards and facilitating is another thing that all Nets fans want.

What is not sustainable at all is the ridiculous minutes in that game. The oft-injured Lopez played over 45, Mirza played 43, Joe Johnson added 42, and Deron Williams played 39. Yes, it was an overtime game, but Lopez had already crossed 40 minutes before the extra period. It is not a coincidence that Brook hurt his back in the next game.

Brady JenningsFavorite performance? Definitely has to be Teletovic. If he can continue to hit 3’s and space the floor as he did against San Antonio, that adds a dangerous element to the Nets offense. Hopefully some confidence they gained that game will be sustainable going forward.

2.) Alternately, the home loss to the Atlanta Hawks has to count among the more frustrating games of the season. Were there any long-term observations or flaws to take away the letdown loss or can you just chalk it up to a bad shooting night (3/18 shooting the three and a 16:17 assist-to-turnover ratio)?

Jordan: The Nets problems were magnified during the game against the Hawks . Seventeen turnovers and shooting 3-18 from three is not a winning formula. The Nets are struggling from the three-point line that wouldn’t be a problem if they didn’t shoot threes, but they are taking 20 threes a game. Lionel Hollins’s squad has problems going into two tough games against the two best teams in the East.

McNichols: Much of it was a just a bad night. Even with the turnovers they only had one fewer shot than Atlanta, partially because of out-rebounding the Hawks. They couldn’t hit a thing, especially from three, but were getting pretty good shots. The only worrying part was their perimeter defense, which was slow getting to shooters. They allowed 34 three-point attempts, ten more than Atlanta averages, and the Hawks hit 13 of those.

Jennings: I think Atlanta is a sneaky good team this season so chalk that loss up to them being a good team, as well as the shooting woes you mentioned. I had to double-check that assist-turnover ratio because it was so bad but yeah, that’s abysmal to say the least, you won’t win against anyone with that.

3.) Brook Lopez’s absence is substantial, considering how well he’s been playing of late and the quality and abundance of games this week, but what adjustments will the Nets and head coach Lionel Hollins have to make to survive in the (hopefully only) four games without their starting center?

Jordan: We all knew this was coming. It wasn’t a matter of if it was a matter of when Lopez got hurt. Going forward I think Jerome Jordan’s minutes have to increase. He is the only other true center on the roster. The Nets front line needs athleticism and some sort of rim protection both of which Jordan can provide. I think minutes increase for Teletovic and Jordan can keep the Nets afloat in a tough week.

McNichols: Time to consult the Jordan Rules… the Jerome Jordan Rules. There are two ways Hollins can go: shift KG to center and play Bojan and Mirza together more or sub Plumlee in for Lopez and move forward as is. Although I would go with the former, my guess is Coach Hollins will go with the latter more often, which would also move Jordan up in the rotation. Sure he’s only a rookie, but he’s averaging 11 points and almost 10 rebounds per 36 minutes and gives the Nets a little bit of rim protection. If we’re lucky (and it’s not looking like it so far this season) Jordan showing that he may be a viable NBA center for the future will be the silver lining of this Lopez-less week.

Jennings: If Brook is back in 4 games I’ll be shocked. I think it’s time to use Plumlee the right way: run some pick-and-rolls to utilize his athleticism. I’m not sure why Hollins insists on posting him up but that’s not his game. They need to go 2-2 this week. EASTERN CONFERENCE!!!



Cavaliers squash broken Nets 110-88

The Brooklyn Nets were down two of their biggest guns in Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez in the loss to the Cavaliers. Deron Williams (13 points and 11 assists) and Mirza Teletovic (11 points, 4 rebounds and 4 stitches) attempted to keep the patchwork squad afloat, but were unsuccessful.

It wasn’t close as the Cavaliers took over the game in the second half. The Lebron James-led Cavaliers turned to their bench for a much needed spark after the starters weren’t able to get it done.

Let’s try to find some positives.

Three positives:

The Nets shared the ball! - Lionel Hollins’ squad had 25 assists and 12 turnovers against the Cavaliers Monday night. I think this is a by product of ball stoppers Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez being out. The ball was moving much better and the Nets were finding open shots. It was just nothing was falling. Poor shooting is becoming the story of the season.

Sergey Karasev - In his first big minutes of the season Karasev made an impact. His scoring off the bench was one of the lone bright spots in this game. I think Lionel Hollins should look at Karasev as a good option going forward. It’s time to start experimenting with different people because what is happening is not working.

Brooklyn was filled with Royals - The two Royal families were at the Nets game. The ones from Britain and the one from Brooklyn. It’s nice that the Nets have now become a destination for some high profile people. It may have helped that Lebron and company were in town.

There were definitely a few negatives as well.

Three negatives:

The Nets can’t shoot - It is becoming more and more of a problem that the Nets cannot shoot the ball from deep. They sit at 26th in the league shooting 32.8%. Everyone is struggling from deep including at times Mirza Teletovic. The 4-19 display against the Cavaliers is just one in a string of poor shooting games. The inability to stretch the floor is affecting the Nets frontcourt. I think that a few Nets are just slumping and will be able to turn this around soon.

Absolutely nobody can rebound - The Nets were out rebounded 55-33. Kevin Garnett had a team high 7 rebounds while Mason Plumlee and Jerome Jordan were held to 3. 20 of the 55 rebounds were offensive rebounds for the Cleveland based team. The absence of Brook Lopez, even though his rebounding has not been great this season, was missed tonight. I think that this could start to become a problem down the road.

The rim was open - The Cavaliers took 30 shots at the rim against the Nets and made 20. I think that is making things way too easy for a team as talented as the Cavaliers. Lacking a rim protector is coming back to haunt the Nets. Jerome Jordan and Mason Plumlee had little effect on anything the Cavaliers were doing.


RECAP: Hawks 98, Nets 75 - Mirza Have None Of It

Atlanta Hawks 98 Final
Recap | Box Score
75 Brooklyn Nets
Kevin Garnett, PF 16 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -1

Garnett did a good job sticking to Paul Millsap at the beginning of the game on screen actions, and somehow managed to only have a +/- of -1 despite playing significant first half minutes. That’s a good thing, I guess? It only goes downhill from here really.

Joe Johnson, SF 29 MIN | 4-8 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | -16

Joe Johnson had 12 points and 4 assists, yet Joe Johnson had the second most points, and the most assists of anyone on the team. He also repeatedly lost track of DeMarre Carroll on back cuts and on the perimeter. It was ugly.

Brook Lopez, C 27 MIN | 9-18 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTS | -10

Brook started off the third quarter hot getting a few put backs and a couple and ones to pad the stats a little bit. He also struggled to keep up with the quickness of Horford and Millsap, and continued to forget how to pass the ball on offense. Austin Reynolds wrote about it today as part of his Trending in Brooklyn series:

Deron Williams, PG 23 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -9

Deron played well in his first quarter minutes when the game was close, but when he returned the Nets were down around 10 and things took a turn for the worse. He didn’t create anything on the offensive end, and got repeatedly blown past by Jeff Teague who seemed to get into the lane at will.

Bojan Bogdanovic, SG 22 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -12

Bojan did a good job of sticking with Kyle Korver in the first half, and prevented him from getting almost any looks from three. Bojan was also pretty non-existent on the offensive end aside from one nice drive early in the game.

Mirza Teletovic, PF 19 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 0 PTS | -25

Mirza fell back to earth hard from his 26 point 15 rebound game against San Antonio on Wednesday by finishing with 0 points on 0-4 shooting from the field, and 3 turnovers. Mirza also struggled playing pick and roll defense while he was guarding Paul Millsap or Mike Scott as he often was slow to recover to their pop and left them open for easy shots. Throughout the season I’ve noticed that Mirza has struggled defending stretch 4s, and for someone who’s quicker than most 4’s he should be able to do a better job.

Cory Jefferson, PF 13 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-3 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | 0

Cory Jefferson didn’t get into the game till the very end of the third quarter when the Nets were already down 20+, and Coach Hollins had basically given up. In his playing time Jefferson took two three pointers popping on the pick and roll. With as athletic as he is, if Cory can develop a decent three point shot he really could have a spot in the Nets rotation. Jefferson also had the highlight of the night on a powerful dunk with a minute left that will surely be on the top 10 if the video of this game’s 4th quarter somehow isn’t destroyed immediately.

Jerome Jordan, C 9 MIN | 1-1 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | +3

Jordan also didn’t get in until complete garbage time in the fourth quarter, so taking anything away from this game is pretty useless. Jerome did get scored on once by Mike Muscala so I feel like that means something, but I’m not sure what.

Mason Plumlee, C 13 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-4 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -14

Mason went toe to toe with Mirza for the worst performance of the night as in his 13 minutes he managed 0 points on 0-3 shooting from the field, and 0-4 shooting from the free throw line. Mason has really been struggling with his free throw shooting this year, and if he ever wants to be someone who can be on the court in crunch time he’s going to need to shoot it a little better.

Jarrett Jack, PG 19 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -18

I mean there’s not much else to say at this point, Jack, like all the other Nets, didn’t do much on offense and was pretty pathetic defensively. Just like Deron, Jack struggled to keep the quick Teague, and Dennis Schröder in front of him as they repeatedly penetrated and kicked to shooters.

Jorge Gutierrez, PG 16 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-1 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -3

Jorge saw his most minutes of the season in an impressive 16 minutes of garbage time. In those 16 minutes he showed a propensity to pull up for the jumper off the pick and roll and played fine, but not very noticeably on either end. Jorge’s garbage time minutes didn’t do anything to signify he should be a bigger part of the Nets rotation.

Alan Anderson, SG 21 MIN | 0-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -9

Anderson somehow managed to beat out Plumlee’s 13 and Mirza’s 19 as he played 21 whole minutes without recording a single point. Anderson has struggled with his shot all year, and that continued tonight as he went 0-6 from the field. As someone who doesn’t create anything off the bounce, and isn’t anything special on defense, Anderson really needs to hit open shots to be deserving of his rotation minutes.

Markel Brown, SG 13 MIN | 1-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 5 PTS | -1

Markel did not actually only play garbage time minutes, but also got a quick stint in the first quarter to the surprise of many (read: me). In his minutes Markel was altogether unimpressive as he managed 3 turnovers to only 1 assist, missed badly on his two three point shots (one was an air ball), and didn’t do anything particularly positive on either end.

Lionel Hollins

This loss is certainly not all Coach Hollins fault as the Nets shot the ball unusually poorly from the field, and made a lot of really dumb turnovers that led to easy baskets for the Hawks. However, considering how bad Alan Anderson has been shooting it’s worth mentioning that Coach Hollins really deserves to give Andrei Kirilenko a shot at some minutes. Kirilenko is old, but still one of the better defensive players the Nets have, and he deserves a shot at least a little playing time.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Coming off two straight wins and what was probably the biggest win of the season so far against San Antonio on Wednesday it really was one of the most disappointing performances of the year for Brooklyn. After a good start to the first quarter they stopped moving the ball on offense, and instead started turning it over and isolating on post ups. On defense they didn’t hustle to get back, and didn’t make an effort to rotate to shooters as they allowed Atlanta to shoot 13-34 from three. It was a lackluster outing for the Nets as the players looked disengaged and uninspired for much of the game.
  2. For the third straight game this week Mason Plumlee was the first center off the bench, and not Jerome Jordan. Mason certainly did not play well this game, but has looked good in the other two games this week. I am fully onboard the Mason>Jerome bandwagon, and am happy to see that Coach Hollins is giving him a chance to earn his minutes.
  3. On Wednesday after the Spurs loss Greg Popovich was quoted as saying that he thought the Nets “could be a helluva team,” and things were looking as bright as they have all season for the Nets. Now going into a week with games against both Cleveland and Chicago the Nets will look to regain their mojo. As long as they don’t lose to the Sixers next week all will be okay, I mean that won’t happen, right? Honestly after tonight it’s not that obvious, the Nets have the talent to be a middle of the pack team in the East, but getting crushed at home by other middle of the pack Eastern Conference playoff teams is not a good sign.


Trending in Brooklyn: Brook Lopez Never Passes the Ball

The Brooklyn Nets have had a solid two weeks, compiling a 4-2 record featuring an impressive overtime win against the San Antonio Spurs. Here’s a few trends that have begun to develop that you should be on the lookout for:

The Nets Have a Brook Lopez Problem

Here is a list of all players so far in the 2014-15 NBA season that are recording a usage rate of over 25 percent, are playing at least 25 minutes per game, and dishing out less than one assist per contest:

Brook Lopez

Enes Kanter

That’s the entire list.

The main issue with Lopez is that he’s become a black hole offensively. Once the ball enters his hands, it’s probably not leaving them except via shot attempt.

Here’s a few plays from recent games where Brook took a bad shot instead of kicking out to his teammates. It should be noted that he actually made a couple of these shots, but that’s not the point. As always, you can click the images to enlarge them.

Screenshot 2014-12-04 15.36.55

Brook grabs an offensive rebound and has Joe Johnson WIDE open in the corner. Instead he takes the difficult shot while surrounded by three Spurs.

Here’s another play from the Spurs game broken down into three frames.

Screenshot 2014-12-04 15.46.32

This play starts with a simple Deron Williams/Brook Lopez pick-and-roll. Lopez is freed up and calls for the pass.

Screenshot 2014-12-04 15.46.34

Williams throws the pass too far in front of Lopez, and he catches it behind the basket.

Screenshot 2014-12-04 15.46.35

There’s still 10 seconds on the shot clock and Lopez is in a really bad spot, but he goes up with the shot anyway and is easily blocked from behind by Tim Duncan.

And here’s one last play from the Nets’ win over the Knicks:

Screenshot 2014-12-04 15.49.25

Oh no Brook. You really don’t have to do this. You really don’t… yup, he did it.

Brooklyn ranks 21st in the league in offensive rating, and while Lopez isn’t the only cause for this, a little more ball movement from the big man would really help out.

Send it in Jerome!

Here’s something to keep an eye on. Over the last couple of weeks or so Lionel Hollins has been giving a healthy portion of Mason Plumlee’s minutes at the backup center position to 28-year-old journeyman Jerome Jordan. Plumlee has played less than 10 minutes in five of his last seven games, while Jordan (who receiver multiple DNP-CDs earlier in the year) has seen his minutes increase.

Here’s a comparison of how the two players have fared per 36 minutes this season.

Screenshot 2014-12-04 16.42.29

Click to enlarge. Stats from Basketball-Reference

The main thing to look at here is the difference in field goal percentage. A season ago Plumlee shot an outstanding 65.9 percent from the floor. It might have been expected that that number would come down this year, but not like this. Unless Plumlee can improve his finishing then we might see a lot more of Jerome Jordan from here on out.

Jarrett Jack’s Three-Point Struggles Continue

Jarrett Jack is actually having one of the most efficient seasons of his career, hitting on 47.2 percent of his field goal attempts, but he’s been unable to buy a bucket from beyond the arc. Jack is shooting an atrocious 11 percent from three on the season, making only two of his 18 attempts.

As bad as that sounds, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, as he’s bound to turn it around here pretty quickly. Jack is a career 35.3 percent shooter from downtown, and in his 10-year career he’s never shot worse than 26.3 percent (his rookie year), and that percentage has been over 30 in every other season.

What’s more concerning than the low percentage is that he’s shooting fewer threes per 36 minutes than he ever has before in his career, and when looking at the SportVu data, the threes he has been taking have been difficult. 10 of his 18 attempts have come with either four seconds or less on the shot clock or with the shot clock turned off, and 12 threes have been with “tight” defense (a defender within four feet).

We have a 10-year sample size that says Jack is a good long-range shooter. If he starts taking more open looks from deep his percentage will inevitably rise.


Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and the Twilight Years

Nothing grabs the attention of the sports world quite like the end. Perhaps it reminds us that the games we watch are impermanent, that even those whose dominance made them seem at times immortal are, in fact, limited. Father Time, as they say, is undefeated. For some players, the end comes in a moment of glory, like Magic Johnson’s appearance in the 1992 All Star Game. Others, less so-have we as a society decided yet to strike Shaq’s stint as a Boston Celtic from the records?

Which brings us to the 2014-15 NBA season, a season that may be taking a number of players to the end. Not insignificantly, these players are of that placekeeper generation of the early-2000s, after Jordan’s Bulls but before the ascendancy of LeBron and today’s current crop of stars, not to mention the young talent on the rise like Anthony Davis, Boogie Cousins and Steph Curry. Steve Nash’s book was closed before the season even began with a season-(and likely career) ending back injury. Kobe is determined to turn the heated debate about his legacy up to 11 as he claims records both good (the first player to ever achieve 30,000 career points and 6,000 career assist) and bad (the record holder for career misses). Wednesday night in Brooklyn, many of us thought we’d see the final chapter of another story from that generation; a rivalry between two players linked by position, by era, and by plenty of alleged bad blood: Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. Of course, and perhaps reflective of a rivalry that never quite became the spectacle it could have been, KG sat out the Nets’ thrilling 95-93 victory, depriving us of one more chance to watch these two old warships go at it.

It really should have been more of a rivalry than it ever appeared to be in the national media. They burst onto the scene around the same time-KG straight from high school in 1995, Duncan a four year collegiate stud in 1997, and played in the same conference for most of their primes. They seemed to get along, and then they didn’t. Garnett won MVP in 2004, on the heels of Duncan’s back-to-back reign in 2002 and 2003. Their personalities couldn’t have been more antithetical. Garnett’s theatrics and trash-talk is legendary. Equally legendary is Duncan’s stoic, vacant stare. It seems that these two were made for each other. If comic books and movies have taught us anything, it’s that ultimately, Batman and the Joker need each other. Even their nicknames fit almost too well. The Big Ticket. The Big Fundamental

So what happened? The rivalry never reached its era-defining potential. The reasons why are plenty: They only met in the playoffs twice. Garnett moved to the Eastern Conference and proved that anything is possible, finally winning his first title. Meanwhile, the Spurs, and Duncan, were in decline. There was no “RT for TD, Fav for KG” tweets, no #KGvsTD hashtags pushed by First Take, no listicle titled “21 Reasons KG is better than TD.” And ultimately, when it comes to legacy, there was no contest. Duncan had the good fortune to find himself the cornerstone of one of the most successfully run sports franchises of all time, found stability in a once-in-a-lifetime coach, a front office that hardly ever screws up and Hall of Fame teammates. Garnett didn’t have those luxuries. Duncan’s five titles eclipse Garnett’s one. And while Duncan is in the midst of yet another title run where many have picked the Spurs as prohibitive favorites, Garnett’s part of a squad that isn’t even guaranteed to make the playoffs. So what happened? Father Time, as they say, is undefeated.

That’s not to say there was the slightest bit of love or competition lost between the two. There are rumors of a Mother’s Day game where Garnett’s infamous trash-talking went too far. As Stefan Bondy of New York Daily News mentions, it might haveve all started with that one push to the back of the head (and I encourage you to read the whole article-it’s a fantastic retrospective of the rivalry):

“Both came into the league as ‘the next big thing,’ so that started the fire between the two from jump street,” former Spurs forward Malik Rose, who played eight seasons with Duncan, wrote in an email. “But things went to the next level when KG hit Duncan in the head. … Tim didn’t retaliate physically but the second half he abused KG and the Wolves. Didn’t say a word to him but let his game do the talking.

“After that, every game they played became a war. They relentlessly went at each other and always had great games against each other. Don’t know if Tim liked or disliked him. He never said anything about him but he always had his guard up and went for blood when he saw KG.”

In his 2012 profile of Duncan, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard addressed the two’s relationship in even stronger terms:

Duncan hates Kevin Garnett. Hates him the way liberals hate Sean Hannity. This information comes from very reliable sources, who talk about how KG has made a career of trying to punk Duncan, baiting him and slapping him and whispering really weird smack into his ear. They talk about how funny this is, because the worst thing you can do as an opponent is piss off Duncan. Then, as Malik Rose says, “he f—— destroys you.”

And so, as we consider the legacy of these two, some light is finally being shed on what seems to be one of the NBA’s most heated, and yet quietest, rivalries. Indeed, they did seem to bring out the best in each other, with Duncan averaging 19 points and 12 rebounds against Garnett, who averaged nearly 20 and 10 himself. In this regard, Garnett accomplished something seemingly no other player in the NBA could pull off, something worth noting, even though it probably won’t end up on his Hall of Fame plaque: he managed to draw the ire of the league’s most legendary stoic, transforming Duncan from an efficient machine to HAL 9000.

Speaking of space, those of you who have seen Interstellar are probably by now all too familiar with Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,”:

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave against close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Two players forever linked, first by rivalry, now, by a common foe. Father Time stands waiting, as does the end, while Duncan and Garnett continue to burn and rave, each in their own style.