Three Lessons: The Brooklyn Nets Are Houston’s Problem!
The Brooklyn Nets now have an argument that no NBA pundit can take from them: They are not the worst team in the NBA. There will be people out there that will compare them to a D-League team. There will be people that think the University of Kentucky Wildcats, coached by former Nets head coach John Calipari can beat them. No people, all of you are wrong.
What is the Nets’ argument you ask?
The Brooklyn Nets can beat the Houston Rockets. They completed a season sweep and are undefeated (2-0) against the team that went to the Western Conference Finals last season. On Joe Johnson bobblehead night, the Nets defeated the Houston Rockets 110-105. Joe Johnson turned back the clock and dropped 15 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter to seal the victory for the Nets. Can we do the Joe Johnson bobblehead night again real soon? Maybe we have something here.
The victory stopped the Rockets three-game winning streak while notching their fifth home game in their last six games.
Here are my three lessons…
1.) The Brooklyn Nets franchise needs to thank their lucky stars they didn’t trade Brook Lopez for Dwight Howard.
Sure, it has been awhile since Dwight Howard tried to hold the Orlando Magic hostage when he tried to leave town. One of the places Howard mentioned he would like to go, if you’ll remember, was Brooklyn. There were rampant rumors concerning discussions for a Lopez for Howard swap. I believe Dwight Howard wanted to go to the Nets. I don’t know for sure (no one does, especially after that awful press conference Howard had saying he was staying in Orlando long term) but at the time, the Nets were pushing their chips in for the NBA title and Howard wanted on the gravy train.
Instead, the Nets backed off and Dwight Howard went on to frustrate Kobe Bryant and destroy the future of the Los Angeles Lakers. Now he is on his way to doing the same for the woefully underachieving Rockets.
Brook Lopez had Dwight Howard on the Brooklyn streets selling the T-shirt of the month with “You Can’t Touch This!” on the front, scoring 24 points on a very efficient 9/14 from the field. Lopez grabbed eight rebounds along with five blocked shots.
With Lopez putting Howard on ice, it allowed Thaddeus Young some space to put in work. Young had yet ANOTHER double double, scoring 20 points and corralling 12 rebounds. When you add five assists and three steals, Lionel Hollins is going to have to find a way to get Young even more involved in the Brooklyn scheme of things.
Dwight Howard finished with a very pedestrian 10 points and nine rebounds. Sometimes the best trades a franchise can make are ones that they never make. This is a prime example. Could you imagine Dwight Howard playing as apathetic and aloof as he did in this game for the Nets every night? As bad as things seem now in Brooklyn, trust me, it could have been a lot worse with Howard in a Brooklyn Nets uniform.
2.) Breaking News! Bojan Bogdanovic had a good game where he scored in double figures!
With Rondae Hollis-Jefferson out for 8-10 weeks dealing with ankle surgery, Bojan Bogdanovic stepped in and scored 12 of his 19 points in the first half. Why is this breaking news? It was his first game even sniffing double digits since November 13th at Sacramento.
Maybe Bojan was relaxed because he didn’t have to look over his shoulder due to Hollis-Jefferson being out. Or it could be that James Harden can’t guard a busted hologram. However, he did look confident and was a major contributor to the Nets offense.
Here’s what Brook Lopez thought about Bogdanovic’s play…
“Bogie stepped in to the starting role and definitely responded,” Lopez said of Bogdanovic. “He was huge for us. We absolutely needed him to play like that and he did.”
Well the Nets are going to need him to play like that for about 8-10 weeks, at least. The offense depends on it.
3.) The Rockets’ bench rolled the Nets’ bench.
The aforementioned Dwight Howard was awful. James Harden was worse, scoring 10 points on 2/9 shooting while handing out more turnovers than a bakery, with seven. However, the Nets can’t depend on the bench scoring 15 points and expect to win basketball games. What’s more disturbing is Wayne Ellington had seven of those points.
Shane Larkin was particularly bad in this game. He had more turnovers (four) than assists (three) and steals (two). Scoring only two points cannot happen consistently for this team to have a chance. Jarrett Jack had a solid game, scoring 10 points and dishing out nine assists. If Jack had nine assists, that means he did not shoot a lot, which his eight shot attempts alludes to. But he had five turnovers. Shane Larkin gives Lionel Hollins an option when Jarrett Jack starts going off the rails. If Larkin does not play well, Hollins will ride with Jack, no matter how bad he plays. That’s how important Larkin’s play is to Brooklyn.
Corey Brewer and former Brooklyn Net, Marcus Thornton, both outscored the Nets bench by themselves with 22 and 32 points, respectively. Both players really put on a show to keep the game close for the Rockets.
Here’s my lessons… NOW LEARN FROM THIS!
Let’s ignore the fact that James Harden can’t guard half of the Brooklyn’s Finest staff for a second and concentrate on ball movement. The Nets had 27 assists against Houston. To put this in perspective, the Golden State Warriors AVERAGE 29 assists per game. That is an amazing stat. That means the ball is moving and spaces are being opened for players to operate.
Brook Lopez weighs in on the offensive prowess…
“In practice yesterday, we just went through our ball movement and movement without the ball,” Lopez said. “I think you could see the results starting to show tonight.”
Now if we can work on those turnovers… The Nets had 24 in a mistake-filled game by both teams. But who cares? The Nets have another win, right?