Saturday, November 23, 2013

Brooklyn Nets Get Ravaged By Timberwolves

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Friday Final:
NETS          81
T-Wolves  111

BROOKLYN NETS: Depleted, Depressed, Demoralized, and Defensively Deficient; Jason's Kidds Wrestle With Defeatism.

The Flatbush Hoops received a lot of Love last night in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.  Kevin Garnett enjoyed his customary warm welcome from the crowd, but that was the full extent of affection for the visitors.

On the the court, Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love entreated Garnett and the Nets to an inhospitable 17 points and 16 rebounds.  Love would also have nothing to do with Garnett's forearm checks, or his close quarter chatter.  Garnett's personal foil wasn't alone in extending Brooklyn a rude welcome.  All five Minnesota starters finished in double-digit scoring, with Kevin Martin joining Love in tying for game-high with 17 points.  Joe Johnson was the only Nets starter to record double-digits, with 15 points.

Kevin Love was also the only player in double-digit rebounding.  Of his 16 boards, 10 came on the defensive glass.  Somehow, the Nets managed to strike a 47-47 tie on the boards.  But Minnesota displayed superior ball distribution, issuing 28 team assists for the game, while Brooklyn's lethargy only produced SEVEN! assists all game.  Ricky Rubio had 8 by himself, and led all players.  In fact, only three Nets players even recorded an assist.  Joe Johnson led with 4, while Garnett had 2, and Paul Pierce recorded one.

Wait, it gets worse.  Brooklyn turned the ball over 20 times as well, which the T-Wolves converted for 22 points.  In all, Minnesota outshot the Nets 97-78 from the field, outscoring them 80-62 off similar shooting percentages.

Brooklyn's lack of speed on the floor was also clearly evident.  Minnesota outscored Brooklyn 17-7 on fast-breaks.

The Nets best play was provided by their bench.  Andray Blatche led the team with 16 points, and Mirza Teletovic led with 7 rebounds.  Tyshawn Taylor added 13 points, and Alan Anderson added ten.

If hospitality is king, what then, does than make GM Billy King?  This game without a doubt represents his team's new season low point.  They are now 3-9 for the season, losers of four in a row, and only 1-7 away from Flatbush.  Word on the local airwaves is that he, and Mikhail Prokhorov give this experiment 20 games before interceding.  With what measures, remains to be seen.

Playing without Deron Williams and Brook Lopez no doubt presents numerous problems.  But even with them, there is a recurrent problem - the Nets continuing lack of effort, particularly on defense, and in the interior, that worries most.  Second on the list of things to worry about, there seems to be no clear offensive philosophy.  Sure, a myriad of injuries may be a contributing factor, especially to Deron Williams, and their leading scorer, Brook Lopez.  But what we're seeing indicates something even more troublesome - Jason Kidd's self-admitted inability to penetrate his team's psyche.  Uh oh.

Being depleted is one thing.  Getting repeatedly demoralized is another.  What Jason Kidd was supposed to have working on is side, was a roster of veteran players who required little mental management.  On that note, Kevin Garnett's recent attempts to adjust the team's attitude seems to have fallen on deaf ears.  Instead, the Nets have sunk even deeper into their malaise.

What started out as a perceived third quarter problem, is now a much bigger and growing monster.  Brooklyn has a first and fourth quarter problem as well.  Additionally, things have dramatically gotten worse from the first six games, versus their last six games.

Here's the breakdown of total points allowed and per-quarter averages over their first 12 games:
  • 1st Qtr - 307 points; 25.5 avg.
  • 2nd Qtr - 287 points; 23.9 avg.
  • 3rd Qtr - 311 points; 25.9 avg.
  • 4th Qtr - 306 points; 25.5 avg.
With those numbers in mind, the Nets currently rank 24th in the league in points allowed.

Here's the disturbing part.  In their first six games, the Nets allowed 30 points in a quarter 4 times.  They additionally allowed over 25 points in a quarter another 6 times.  They held their opponents to 20 points or less, 7 times.  This does not include the 13 points they scored in O.T. versus Washington.

In their last six games, the Nets allowed 30 points in a quarter 5 times.  They allowed over 25 points another 11 times, and held their opponents to 20 points or below just 2 times. This does not include 6 points allowed to Phoenix in overtime.

Overall, the Nets allowed a total of 588 points over their first six games, for an average of 24.5 points per quarter, and 98 points per game.  Over the last six games, they've allowed 623 points, for an average of 26 points per quarter, and 103.9 points per game.

Not having Deron Williams and Brook Lopez on the floor is hardly an excuse for Brooklyn's deteriorating defensive play.  Everyone is accountable.  Defense should never take a night off.  That said, Billy King will not idly stand by.  He has proven himself to be a very proactive general manager.  His boss, Mikhail Prokhorov, understood the gamble they both agreed to take.

The real decision regarding Jason Kidd is still forthcoming, designed to be made very early in the season, rather than too late.

Eight more games from now, the Nets will reach twenty.  The Nets would have to go 7-1 in order to reach the .500 mark.  The first step would be to defeat the Detroit Pistons at Barclays Center, or not.


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