Three Lessons: Brooklyn Nets Disappear Against the Orlando Magic

The Brooklyn Nets’ marketing team worked so hard to set this night up. The Nets used the Star Wars mania to bring the crowd out to watch the Nets take on the Orlando Magic.

Boy, Luke SkyWalker was rolling over in his grave watching this Brooklyn Nets team play… Man, Kenny “Sky” Walker was rolling over in his grave watching this Nets team play.

The Nets took another loss at home, continuing to undo the positive things built from a recent four-game winning streak, in losing to the Orlando Magic,105-82, on Brook Lopez’s Jedi bobble head night. Thaddeus Young finished with a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Jarrett Jack went for 15 points and seven assists. Bojan Bogdanovic finished with ten points, all in the third quarter. After watching Brook Lopez struggle for the last few games, maybe his bobblehead night will get a “Return of the Jedi” effect that it had on Joe Johnson.

It didn’t happen… for Brook Lopez or Joe Johnson…

Here are my three lessons…

1.) Brook Lopez is exposing himself as an overpaid soft player.

Even Ben “Obi-Wan” Kenobi was rolling over in his grave watching Brook Lopez play.

Coming off a DeAndre Jordan domination that had Lopez selling incense in front of the Barclays Center, Brook Lopez followed that game up with a plain awful game, scoring only 11 points on a putrid 4/15 from the field. This was a game Lopez should have dominated on both sides of the floor. Instead he looked soft and allowed Nikola Vucevic to smoke him like a pack of Kools for 18 points, with ten of them coming in the third quarter to put the game away. The ten points from Vucevic sparked the Magic to tally up 31 points in the period that blew open a game that was in reach.

What did Brook Lopez have to say about his performance…

“I was a complete negative for our team. I kind of let us down, pulled us down. I definitely need to be better and I can be.”

I can respect that Lopez took the blame for the loss. That is what leaders do. He took the loss harder than Lionel Hollins seemed to after a train wreck of an performance…

“It’s hard when you lose that way,” Hollins said. “But when it happens, the best thing to do is just put on your boot straps and your hard hat and go back to work. And that’s what we’ll do.”

I guess that’s the way you would analyze a game where the team gets outplayed (and outcoached) by a younger, more athletic team that just went out and competed for four quarters and not two. After the second half started, the offense grinded to a halt after Lopez was rendered to being a non-factor and the defense went to the early Star Wars premiere. Sure, the Nets fell behind the Los Angeles Clippers, but they kept playing and competed. Against the Magic they mailed it in.

Speaking of mailing it in…

2.)  The Brooklyn Nets might have tuned out Lionel Hollins.

The Nets are dealing with the dogged rumors of Lionel Hollins being on the hot seat. Hollins has been bet on in Vegas. He’s been labeled a goner by a Russian news journalist. I mean, what’s next? The tenure of  Lionel Hollins has been shaky from the start. In my opinion, it might be starting to affect the players. The Nets have to have stability at this point. It’s just not there when the owner comes across the pond to check in on what is going on.

Lionel Hollins has a lot of shortcomings. Bad substitution patterns, communication problems, lack of accountability for mistakes, etc. The one thing that Hollins could count on was the fact that his teams competed to a high level and played defense.

This did not happen against the Magic.

Players are not stupid. Hollins has not done the job trying to get this team going in the right direction. There have been numerous situations where communication has hurt the Nets this season. It cost the Nets against the Lakers with a five second call. Then it cost the Nets the chance to be the team to beat the Warriors and give them their first loss. There is no real leadership when it comes to this team.

Brook Lopez has not done the job. But is it really possible considering that Hollins for some reason sits the man down in the fourth quarter when the team needs his scoring the most. Considering that Lopez was benched last year for Mason Plumlee who was shipped to Portland, there has to be some uneasiness between the two, no matter what they say.

Joe Johnson has not done the job. It’s not possible for him either. With rumors that he might be bought out at the trade deadline if he cannot be moved does not generate much motivation to speak out when your time is limited.

All of that and that ridiculous free reign that he gave Jarrett Jack for the first 12 games could have easily turned any player off on the team. At least anyone that thought defense would give them floor time. Jarrett Jack’s defense is so bad this year, opposing guards are looking to pad their stats against the Nets. If it wasn’t for Shane Larkin coming off the bench and playing well, it could have been worse.

Jack’s situation looks like Hollins is playing favorites. That is poison for a locker room. Then when the MVP Stephen Curry mentions Jack in a positive light, Hollins goes on a rant and throws Jack under the bus. I’m not a Jack fan (putting it mildly), but Hollins could have at least nodded and co-signed the statement by the reigning best player in the world.

3.)  The Brooklyn Nets ball handlers are horrible with the ball.

The Brooklyn Nets had 17 turnovers. The Brooklyn ball handlers (I’m saying this loosely based on the performance in this game) had 13 of them. Bottom line the guards can’t turn the ball over and give easy points to the opposition. The Orlando Magic scored 22 points off of turnovers. These are easy points that the Nets can’t afford to give away. If Lopez is off and Joe Johnson is not scoring, turnovers makes the absence of these players even worse.

To finish this analysis recap… Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca and Darth Vader all were rolling over in their graves watching the Brooklyn Nets play on Star Wars night.