Recap: Nets 90, Hawks 88 - Nets Win, No One Watches
After losing in heartbreaking fashion to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday despite leading for most of the game, the Brooklyn Nets found themselves in another close one Tuesday night against the Atlanta Hawks. This time, through solid point guard play and clutch late game defense, the Nets beat the Hawks 90-88 at home for their second win of the season.
The game started off sloppy. The Nets and the Hawks were both out of sync on offense, turning the ball over in bunches. The whole first quarter was back-and-forth ugly basketball. The Nets were up by 4 with two minutes left in the quarter when they their offense fell apart, resulting in the following possessions:
Wayne Ellington missed 22-foot jumper
Thomas Robinson turnover (Shelvin Mack steals)
Bojan Bogdanovic stepped out of bounds
Jarrett Jack bad pass (Shelvin Mack steals)
Jarrett Jack missed 6-foot shot
The first quarter ended with the Hawks leading 19-17.
With both teams playing poorly and the Nets losing, the Hawks seemed destined to pull away. They started the second quarter with an offensive run to stretch the lead to nine, but the Nets fought back into the game. They seemed to embrace the role of the underdog, playing with energy against a more talented Hawks team that seemed surprised the game wasn’t being handed to them. While the Nets tightened up their offense after the first quarter and took care of the ball, the Hawks continued to turn the ball over. The Hawks carelessness and the Nets effort led to a 9-0 run near the end of the quarter for Brooklyn. At the half, the home team was only down by one.
The third quarter was more of the same. The Hawks would build a lead, then the Nets would ratchet up the defense and the Hawks would turn the ball over. With 2:30 left to go in the quarter, Shane “Steph” Larkin came off the bench and immediately buried back-to-back 3’s, energizing the team and grabbing a 4 point lead by the end of the quarter.
Both teams played tight in the fourth quarter- the Hawks seemed to be playing not to lose rather than to win. Larkin scored the first points of the quarter for the Nets, but the rest of the game belonged to the veterans. Jarrett Jack made shots, Joe Johnson made passes, and Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young combined for a fantastic sequence that won the game for the Nets. In the waning seconds of the game, with the score tied, Paul Millsap tried to lay the ball in for the lead. Lopez blocked him and the ball went right to Young, who sprinted up the court and forced Kyle Korver to foul him with just over a second left on the clock. Young made both free throws, and the Nets claimed a 90-88 victory.
Despite the win, the atmosphere surrounding the game was gloomy. Attendance at the Barclays Center was the lowest for any regular season game in Nets history in Brooklyn, and the most of the crowd arrived late and was dead. It was announced during the broadcast that Comcast would no longer be carrying Nets games, and multiple warnings were run during the game that Xfinity was planning on dropping the YES Network unless their customers made themselves heard. These would be signs of an empire in decline, only the Nets never had an empire.
The obsession with immediate success that ran through the Nets organization over the last five years was primarily due to the team’s relocation from New Jersey to New York. Mikhail Prokhorov instructed Billy King and the front office to build a winner at all cost because he knew the team would have to steal market share from the Knicks, who have owned New York basketball for generations. Jay-Z was brought on as a minority owner, the jerseys were redesigned, and draft picks were traded for older stars, all in an attempt to find a foothold in New York. Now Jay-Z is gone, along with most of the stars, and all that remains are the black-and-white jerseys and an empty arena.
- Shane Larkin attempted 6 3’s and made 4 of them. That alone is worthy of praise, especially for a team that trails Stephen Curry in 3PM on the season. More than shooting, Larkin also brought scrappy energy and defensive effort off the bench that changed the tenor of the game.
- Joe Johnson had another rough shooting night (5/14) in a season filled with them, but he was still able to bring value on offense. He grabbed 7 rebounds and had 9 assists to go along with 13 points, nearly pulling off the triple-double. Despite his bad percentages so far this season, he continues to get respect from opposing defenders who cling closely to him on the perimeter, creating space for the offense to work. If he continues missing shots, will defenses keep covering him beyond the arc, or will that spacing start to disappear?
- Brook Lopez played like Brook Lopez tonight. The Nets got him the ball time and time again, either in the post or through pick-and-rolls, and the offense ran smoothly when they did so. He put up 24 points on efficient shooting, pulled down 11 rebounds, and had 3 blocks- one of them a clutch late game stuff that was crucial for the win. This is the Lopez that the Nets need.
- Thaddeus Young was the MVP of the game. He was a menace defensively, flying around the court and grabbing 5 steals in the process. He scored 16 points on 7/13 shooting with 11 rebounds, one of those rebounds led directly to a fast break that ended with Young going to the free throw line for the deciding 2 points. When the Nets signed Young to a 4-year, $50 million deal, it looked like a fair contract. In light of his recent play and the rising cap in the next couple years, it looks like a steal.
- Andrea Bargnani played 4 minutes and had a -12 plus/minus. That seems fair. The problem with Bargnani is that if he isn’t making shots he is actively hurting the Nets. 4 minutes of playing time might be 4 too many.
- The Brooklyn Nets won their second game of the season against the Atlanta Hawks and are now 2-9 on the season. They play their next game tonight at 7:00 pm (EST) in Charlotte against the Hornets.