Follow the Nets' return to New York with Newsday's Rod Boone.
Three Pointers: An Alarming Loss
That was bad.
No, we’re not talking in that old school Michael Jackson kinda bad.
Up 22 points in the third quarter of second game of the season. At home. Against a team that was missing two of its best players.
And the Nets couldn’t close it out.
That was a brutal and they can only hope Monday night’s 107-96 loss to the Timberwolves at the Barclays Center doesn’t carry over into Wednesday’s date with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade & Co. in Miami.
"It’s definitely disappointing, definitely embarrassing, given who they are missing," Deron Williams said, referring to Minnesota being without injured stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. "Sometimes those are the most dangerous teams and they definitely played well down the stretch."
On to the Three Points:
--* We’ll start with the atrocious interior defense. Where else?
Due to a glitch with the stats, we weren’t able to get our hands on the actual final numbers until more than an hour had elapsed following the game. But once we did, there are two in particular that stand out, with the first being the whopping 62 points in the paint they allowed.
That’s almost unheard of. No way that can happen. Teams are simply going to take it to the hole against the Nets when they see how Wolves 6-11, 290-pound center Nikola Pekovic was shredding them inside.
“We just relaxed defensively,” Avery Johnson said. “We started trading baskets with them in the third quarter and never really could get stops. Then when we stopped scoring, they continued to score. “Like I’ve been saying all along, defensively we’ve got a long way to go. Too many breakdowns, too many points in the paint.
"They had 30 points in the paint in the first half. Normally, you want teams to score around that amount for the whole game. So, we’ve got a lot of stuff to watch, a lot of correctable errors.”
Brook Lopez said: “We didn’t really get good stops. We didn’t do very well in the pick-and-roll defense."
--* What happened to Lopez and the Nets’ post game in the second half? It was non-existent.
As is usually the plan, they got Lopez the ball early in the game and he was pounding the ball down to the tune of nine points and four rebounds in the first quarter. After only one attempt in 5:03 of burn he got in the second quarter, he took just two shots in the third quarter, misfiring on both.
But when he got the ball in the fourth quarter, he was no where near as close to the basket as he was in the first half. He made only 2-of-7 attempts he hoisted up in 9:27 of action in the quarter.
“They came out, played him much more physical,” Johnson said. “He didn’t get the looks he had in the first half, but Pekovic, he’s a big strong guy and he’s physical and he can wear you down. Maybe we just got a little worn down there at the end.”
--* It can’t be stressed enough: Do the things that made you successful in the first place.
With crisp ball movement, using an inside-outside game at times to go along with some hustle, the Nets were in complete control, shooting a red-hot 60 percent from the floor in the second quarter. But after building that 22-point lead, they relaxed. They started playing a little too much isolation street ball in the fourth, going just 4 of 19 and 0 for 3 from downtown.
They were outscored 32-10 in the fourth quarter and had zero second-chance points and not a single fastbreak point. Meanwhile, undermanned Minnesota hit 12-of-25 shots, went 4 of 7 from the land of three, had 14 points in the paint, seven second-chance points and six fastbreak points.
That can’t happen and the Nets know it.
“We’ve just got to get a little more gritty, a little tougher,” Joe Johnson said. “There’s no way they should outwork us. No team should outwork us. You’ve got to outwork somebody night-in and night-out just with effort. But that fourth quarter, we didn’t bring it man.”