Recap: Brooklyn Nets 86, Memphis Grizzlies 95
Fresh off of back-to-back losses and playing in their fourth game in five nights, the Brooklyn Nets trailed throughout tonight’s game in Memphis against the (39-13) Grizzlies. Turnovers and poor shooting were an early theme for the Nets in their 95-86 loss, and they’ll enter the All-Star break at 21-31 and still a game back of the eighth spot in the East.
The Brooklyn Nets came out flat tonight - despite Kevin Garnett’s presence in the starting lineup on the second night of their road back-to-back - and the Memphis Grizzlies capitalized on early Brooklyn turnovers to cruise to a 22-9 start in the first quarter. All five Memphis starters scored (on five of their first six possessions), while the Nets struggled to make just 7/21 shots in the opening frame and Joe Johnson led the team with four turnovers. The Grizzlies big men made their first few long jumpers and settled into a nice rhythm, while their guards and wings got out on the fast break and converted layups off of turnovers. The opening offensive possession of the game for Brooklyn resulted in a Joe Johnson turnover that led to a Mike Conley fast-break layup, and the Southwest Division-leading Memphis Grizzlies never trailed tonight.
After the first quarter the Nets registered just two assists to six turnovers and surrendered 32 points. Head coach Lionel Hollins, in his return to the organization and city where he coached for three tenures and helped to develop the current “Grit and Grind” core, varied his rotations and went to his small-ball lineup about a minute into the second period. The Nets went almost three minutes without a field goal as Tony Allen hit a three-pointer to put Memphis up 20 points, before Plumlee ended the drought with a layup.
Hollins brought Cory Jefferson into the game as another big man option, but his substitution of Jerome Jordan with 6:35 left in the second quarter actually sparked a Nets run that trimmed the lead to 10 points just before halftime. Brook Lopez came back into the game and found room in that mid-post area for his floating jump-hook, and Deron Williams took over for a seven-point flurry on a layup while falling out of bounds, a step-back jumper along the baseline, and a wide-open catch-and-shoot make from the corner-three. Marc Gasol drew free throws on the other end to set the halftime score at 52-40, and the Nets improved their field goal percentage to 39.5% overall and drew five free-throw attempts in the second quarter.
Brook Lopez and Deron Williams’s strong play with the bench unit resulted in a second-half start, along with Jarrett Jack, Joe Johnson, and Kevin Garnett. An early (unintentional) elbow from Brook that caught Marc Gasol in the cheek stopped the game while the referees consulted the video review but the call held at just a personal foul, and the second half started a bit sloppy on both ends. The Nets made a constituted effort to get Brook the ball in the post, as he saw touches on the first three possessions of the third quarter that resulted in the offensive foul, a missed jump hook, and a Marc block.
Courtney Lee, meanwhile, dropped eight points in about 36 seconds and stretched Memphis’ lead back to 19 points with 9:02 left in the third. Brook chipped in with a basket and some free throws and Jarrett Jack went on a self-generated 6-0 run to close out the quarter, but every time Brooklyn put together some momentum, Memphis responded with an easy look. Plumlee tacked on two made three throws to that Jack run to make it 8-0, but Beno Udrih brought the ball up quick after Jack’s sixth turnover of the night and hit a pull-up jumper. A Plumlee and-one ended the quarter with the Nets down, 62-75, but Jarrett Jack went to the bench following his kicked-ball turnover with an apparent left leg injury that looked like a hamstring but that the Nets said resulted from a kick to “the back of the leg.”
The Nets struggled to score for the first three minutes to begin the fourth quarter (until Markel Brown replaced Darius Morris at backup point guard), but were able to hold the Grizzlies to just a single made free throw until the 7:48-mark. Again, Beno Udrih responded to Brooklyn’s momentum and would make his next two jumpers (including a three), before giving way to Zach Randolph’s finger-roll layup and three-pointer. Jerome Jordan followed ZBo’s three with a power dunk in traffic after a nice find from Deron Williams, and Joe Johnson then countered a Tony Allen layup with a pull-up jumper. A 7-0 Nets run came as the Grizzlies missed long jumpers down the stretch, and Marc Gasol stepped to the free-throw line up eight and with 1:27 remaining.
Gasol would split the pair and Deron attacked for a (pretty, left-handed) layup just ten seconds later, cutting the Memphis lead to seven. The Nets made Memphis use almost their entire shot clock on the next possession and forced a Mike Conley runner (and a near-backcourt violation by ZBo) that was off the mark, but rebounded by Marc Gasol. ZBo made a reverse layup underneath the basket and Hollins called timeout, down nine. Plumlee came out of it with a made mid-range jumper from a Joe Johnson assist, and Joe committed the intentional foul on Jeff Green with 18.5 seconds left in the game. Jeff made both of his free throws, Brooklyn could muster only a missed three-point attempt by Brook Lopez, and the Grizzlies took the game, 95-86.
The Memphis Grizzlies seemingly never broke a sweat tonight and led wire-to-wire over the Brooklyn Nets for their 39th win of the season. Outside of a couple of stretches in the second and fourth quarters, they dominated the game through their bigs (Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and Kosta Koufos) and withstood an off-night from Mike Conley (two points on 1-8 shooting) to get double-digit scoring efforts out of six players. Single game plus-minus is a tricky and context-laden stat, but Memphis’ triumvirate of Marc, ZBo, and Jeff Green were a combined +44 with 44 points scored between the three tonight, along with 22 rebounds and seven assists.
Brooklyn, on the other hand, fell behind by double digits in the first few minutes of the game and fought an uphill battle throughout the evening, against the NBA’s third-best home team (22-5 for Memphis at the FedEx Forum). After getting blown out to begin their eight-game road trip in Washington and then giving Monday’s game in Milwaukee away in the third quarter, tonight’s game was almost a must-win for the Nets after winning three-straight last week, but the Memphis Grizzlies were able to play well early and outlast a fourth quarter Nets run. Brooklyn committed 20 turnovers and shot just 43.2% from the field (including 3-12 from three) in losing their third-consecutive game, and will play again February 20th against the Los Angeles Lakers to close out the remaining five games to their road trip.
Next game: Friday, February 20th at 10:30 pm (EST), @ the (13-38) Los Angeles Lakers