Nets Suffer Deflating Loss In Phoenix
Golden State Warriors
Some Left Coast Arena
BROOKLYN NETS: Adversity Has Entered The Building.
Prior to Wednesday night's final in Phoenix, I viewed Joe Johnson's criticisms as a positive; a proactive measure before things got out of hand. He just also happened to be right. Many times the Nets have looked and played like five individuals on the court.
Good for Joe. He's put in his time. Johnson has tenure, and produces on the floor (which perhaps resonates most among fellow athletes).
His veteran team mates also backed him up in the media. What else were they going to do? But Kevin Garnett indeed seemed all in, and Deron Williams' was particularly succinct with his response.
After a second half meltdown, however, and a 112-102 loss in Phoenix, Joe Johnson's message might have lost resonance.
The Nets took a 63-49 lead into halftime, only to shoot 27.5% in the second half, and get outscored by a 63-41 margin. Many long faces grew on the Nets bench after watching a 19-point lead eroded by Gerald Green and the Suns
What Wednesday's game accomplished was to reiterate what a plodding half court team the Nets remain under Billy King. Sure, the Nets shooting iced up as if gripped by the northern vortex, but the Suns sped up the game in the second half and never looked back.
The game also provided another glimpse into the potential rift growing between Coach Hollins and Brook Lopez, who again was given a seat on the bench during key stretches of the fourth quarter.
While Hollins/Lopez is making for good theater, tonight all eyes will revert back upon Deron Williams. The Nets were undone in Phoenix in part due to late turnovers - Williams included. Tonight they'll take on the Golden State Warriors - no easy task.
Deron will face his biggest challenge since opposing Rajon Rondo back in the season's opener. That night, Rondo posted a double/double with 13 points and 12 assists, while Williams scored 19 points with 8 assists. Tonight, he'll square off against Stephen Curry, who is averaging 26 points per game this season.
Deron Williams entered the season with a chip on his shoulder for having felt written off by most. He also believes that with two healthy ankles, no one can defend him. So far, actions have spoken louder than words. In a sign his duel ankle problems are indeed behind him, Deron's recent efforts earned him NBA conference player of the week honors. He averaged 21 points and 7 assists in 4 home games at Barclays Center.