Three Lessons: Brooklyn Nets Get A “Dirty South” Win

Well, Brooklyn Nets fans, the Nets maybe bad and their future could be worse, but one thing that the Nets will be able to do as long as Brook Lopez is in a Nets uniform is beat the Atlanta Hawks. The Nets pulled off their second win of the season upsetting the Hawks 90-88 behind the “future” of the franchise, Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez. Two things happened in this game that is becoming a trend that needs to be looked at going forward this season.

  1. The Brooklyn Nets will at least be competitive. They might not win a lot of games but they will test some teams.
  2. Lionel Hollins’s future will come down to the execution in the final minutes of these games which have come under fire lately.

Brook Lopez finished the night with 24 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots. Thaddeus Young had the support that the Brooklyn Nets had in mind when they signed him to that $50 million dollar contract this offseason with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and a whopping five steals, with the last one sealing the game for the Nets in the end. Shane Larkin is starting to figure things out, folks. He scored 14 points as he was the only one besides Wayne Ellington to score off the bench.

Al Horford led the Hawks with 18 points and Paul Millsap had 17 in the loss.

Here’s what I learned from this game…

1.)  The Atlanta Hawks have no answer for Brook Lopez.

This is not a misprint. The Brooklyn Nets could have easily beaten the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs last year. Just before the  playoffs, I was on a radio show and was asked how the Brooklyn Nets could beat the number one seed in the playoffs. I said that it was really simple. The Atlanta Hawks have no answer for Brook Lopez. If the Nets can capitalize on that matchup, the Nets have a shot.

Well, history teaches us that Deron Williams did not get that memo and did not take advantage of the matchup. Lopez destroyed the frontline of the Hawks to the point that he was shooting over 70% from the field at one time during the series. Instead of getting swept from the playoffs like a lot of experts expected, Brooklyn held its own and ended up losing 4-2 in the first round.

Atlanta had to notice the matchup problems that the Nets present because they went out and got Tiago Splitter from the San Antonio Spurs to get a big body in the middle. Well in this game, it still didn’t matter.

Paul Millsap and Al Horford are very good players. Horford will round into All-Star form again after the injury bug hit him. It is clear that these two players just can’t handle Lopez on the blocks. Lopez is too big and too skilled for the Hawks. Furthermore, these two players are not physical enough to bother Lopez which was shown basically throughout the West Coast trip with Dwight Howard (Houston Rockets), Andrew Bogut (Golden State Warriors), and especially DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings). The entire frontcourt play the same style as Lopez, meaning they have a perimeter game that allows Lopez to avoid constant contact.

Lopez was huge in dominating the frontcourt of the Hawks, which included a huge block late to set up the free throws from Thaddeus Young to win the game.

2.) Shane Larkin is staking his claim as a player for the future for the Brooklyn Nets.

Shane Larkin has found his game during the West Coast trip. Larkin continued his strong play with a strong 14 point performance on the strength of four of six shot from the land of the extra point. Larkin is on a serious roll from three-point land. Larkin is knocking down 55.6% from three for the month of November and a Kyle Korver-like 45.5% for the year. Understand that the Nets currently reside at the bottom of the NBA in three-point shooting so this is a testament to what Larkin is doing right now. If the Nets have a few more nights where they shoot 9/20 from the three-point line, it will open up space for Brook Lopez to operate. Which means more wins.

Like I have said many times on this website, Shane Larkin will prove himself valuable for the Nets. The Brooklyn Nets need to speed up the tempo to get easy shots and Larkin thrives with that type of play.

If you’ve watched Larkin over the last few games, you’ll notice that Larkin’s improvements have started on the defensive end of the floor. Sure Larkins is small, but he is bringing energy and is making an effort to make the opposing point guard work to get into their offense. Now that hard work is starting to transfer over to the offensive end of the floor.

Let’s be clear here, Shane Larkin is not the starting point guard for the Brooklyn Nets, but he is slowly becoming the BEST point guard for the Brooklyn Nets.

Speaking of point guards…

3.) Jarrett Jack played his best floor game since last year. No check that… as a Brooklyn Net.

For one game, I actually have to give Jarrett Jack some props. Jarrett Jack did against the Hawks what Deron Williams refused to do in last year’s playoffs: He gave the ball to Brook Lopez and got out of the way. He exploited the matchup problems that Lopez always gives the Hawks.

Jarrett Jack scored 14 points on an efficient 5/10 shooting which includes three three-pointers. Jack also had eight assists with only two turnovers. With the Nets down two late in the game, 88-86, Jack tied the score with a clutch jumper.

Brooklyn Nets fans, this is what you need from Jarrett Jack going forward. The Nets do not need a point guard to lead the team in scoring while firing up 20 shots a game. The Nets need Jack to run the offense and get the ball down low to either Lopez or Young and get them involved early in the game and keep them engaged throughout. Lopez did not disappear in the fourth quarter of this game like numerous others this season. Why? Because Jarrett Jack played the point. Thaddeus Young sinks two free throws and has the defensive play of the game. Coincidence? I think not.

Here’s what I learned. NOW LEARN FROM THIS!

The Brooklyn Nets played in front of 12,241 people in this game. The previous low in the Barclays Center before this year was over 14,000. That game was played during a storm from remnants of a hurricane. Considering that the game against the Bucks only drew 12,576 fans, one thing is perfectly clear… if fans don’t come, there’s no money. If there is no money, management will come calling.

Hear that, Billy King and Lionel Hollins?