CHICAGO — One game, veteran Randy Foye was mobbed by his Nets teammates after hitting the game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer against Charlotte, and the next game in Chicago, he missed two foul shots and committed his only turnover of the game as the Nets blew a seven-point lead in the final three minutes of a heartbreaking 101-99 loss to the Bulls.
Reflecting on the foul shots he missed in roaring United Center, Foye wouldn’t admit to any rust in those situations after being lightly used until forced into action by a hamstring injury that sidelined starting point guard Jeremy Lin for a second time this season. “I made a big shot the other night, and I missed two free throws [Wednesday] night,” Foye said. “But that wasn’t the reason why we lost the game.”
Foye played 28:25 against the Bulls, scoring 11 points on 5-for-9 shooting and grabbing five rebounds and a steal. But his only turnover was costly when an inbounds pass to Brook Lopez, who had one arm pinned to his side by a defender, got away and led to a basket for a 99-97 Bulls lead.
“The pass was right there, and that’s what we wanted,” Foye said. “But at the end of the game, the ref is not going to make that call.”
The most interesting part about Foye’s game in Chicago was the decision of coach Kenny Atkinson to go with his veteran leadership down the stretch, in part, because of Foye’s physical defense.
“He organizes us a little better,” Atkinson said after a practice in Chicago before the Nets flew to Washington to meet the Wizards Friday night at Verizon Center. “He just has that experience, that NBA savvy of being in the league and being able to read plays defensively and offensively. There’s a lot of subtle things he brings to the table.”
Asked if Foye seemed a little rusty in end-game situations, Atkinson said, “I think he was out there for a long stretch. I look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘Did we leave him out there too long?’ But we huddled up and said, ‘We’ve got to go with him.’ I think it was the right play.”
Most likely, Foye will continue to come off the bench behind rookie starter Isaiah Whitehead in Lin’s absence, but it’s clear the coaching staff values the 33-year-old’s experience in an expanded role. The Wizards present a major challenge with speedy guards John Wall and Bradley Beal, but Foye noted that Beal suffered an ankle injury Wednesday that may slow him.
Foye blamed his slow start this season on a hamstring strain suffered two days before the opener. “Now, I feel as though I’m coming around,” Foye said. “I’m starting to play all right. I can play better, but my main focus is trying to get better every single day.”