Nets 111, Hawks 114: Dang it
Much like our first President, I have teeth made of wood… no, wait, I cannot tell a lie. I sat down at halftime of the Brooklyn Nets - Atlanta Hawks game to begin writing this recap. I thought it was over. I thought the East-leading Hawks would brush the Nets aside like those crumbs that you know you should throw in the garbage, but c’mon, you can’t see them in the carpet. Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, during the first three quarters we witnessed Brooklyn play excellent offensive basketball and non-existent defensive basketball. The fourth quarter didn’t see better D but it did see more missed shots, which allowed the Nets to take the lead with only a few minutes left in the game. Through a series of unfortunate events Atlanta still squeaked out a 114-111 victory, but this was at least a loss the Brooklyn Nets can use.
What seemed a foregone conclusion after three with Atlanta leading 94-82, it took a shocking lack of accuracy from Atlanta to only manage 20 points in the fourth quarter, allowing the game to come down to the final play. Unfortunately two of the Nets most glaring flaws went on glaring right into all of our eye orbs during those final moments. With a one point lead and around 30 seconds to play, Brook Lopez, who played another fantastic game, got stuck between jumping at Kyle Korver and running back to stop an Al Horford layup. In the end he chose neither and the Hawks took the lead on that Horford score.
No matter, there was still time to score, and Brooklyn has Iso-Joe… who surprisingly went with an isolation play. While often successful, the general lack of movement on iso tends to focus the defense and inhibit movement of other offensive players. This particular play actually ended well enough, with a Jarrett Jack corner three that didn’t go in, although that’s not surprising with Jack’s 25% shooting from behind the arc. The Nets also successfully fought for the rebound, which ended in a Bojan Bogdanovic three from the top of the key, which also sadly did not go in. After a few free throws and a desperation Johnson three (that almost went down), the game was history… like our first president (bookended that one!).
As mentioned, Brook Lopez had yet another blockbuster in an impressive string of recent hits. The Nets’ lovable center finished the game with 26 points on 8-17 shooting (and 10-10 from the line), 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 3 blocks. Other good Nets performances came from Joe Johnson, who managed 21 points on 9-15 shooting, Thad Young, who had 15 points and 11 boards, and Deron Williams, with 10 points and 13 assists (although only 40% shooting and 5 turnovers).
This loss coupled with Boston’s win against Detroit means that Brooklyn drops to 8th place in the East (although tied on win percentage with the Celtics). The Nets still have a one game lead on the Indiana Pacers, and own the tiebreaker in that matchup, but the Nets still have to play the Washington Wizards (Friday), the Milwaukee Bucks (Sunday), and the Chicago Bulls (Monday), all of whom are playoff teams still fighting for position. The good news is that Indiana plays against Oklahoma City, Washington, and Memphis after a trip to Detroit and Boston plays the Cavaliers twice, the Raptors, and the Bucks.
Of course there’s always Miami, who is tied with Indiana and play the Bulls and Raptors, but then end with Orlando and Philadelphia. I guess the point is that these games are really important if the Nets want to make the playoffs… and they do. If they can get in, we’ll just worry about Atlanta or Cleveland when we get there… deal?