|Kevin Garnett started hot tonight, hitting his first six shots. He went just 2-for-13 the rest of the way.|
In the first quarter of their stunning loss to the Portland Trail Blazers tonight at Barclays, the Brooklyn Nets were on fire. They shot an absurd 73.7 percent from the field in the game's opening 12 minutes, scoring a season-high 40 points in a single quarter. Kevin Garnett was hot right away, making 6-of-6. Brooklyn made 10-of-11 from the free-throw line and didn't even commit a turnovers. However, Portland played well too, scoring 31 points on similar 72.2 percent shooting, giving the Nets a nine-point lead heading into the second quarter.
Then, once the second quarter began, everything fell apart for Brooklyn, which is now a dismal 3-7 on the season. The Nets made barely over a quarter of their shots in the second, third, and fourth quarters combined while giving up nearly 50 percent shooting by the Blazers, who came back in this game with a vengeance. Jason Kidd's sorry bunch was outscored by 19 points over the last 36 minutes, fading away in a fashion that just makes coaches, fans, and players alike sick to their stomachs.
Without Brook Lopez (ankle), Deron Williams (ankle), and Andrei Kirilenko (back), the Nets missed some of their key players. However, that's no excuse for completely disappearing for three-fourths of a game.
To be fair, Portland came out with guns ablazing from three-point range, drawing the Brooklyn defense out and then dominating the paint with LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 27 points on 9-of-16 shooting. The Nets had no answer for Alridge, who was making outside jumpers with as much ease as he was making layups inside. Wesley Matthews hit his first four threes in the first quarter and was locked-in, adding 24 on 9-of-13 shooting with five threes to boot. Damian Lillard killed the Nets as well, dropping 19 as he torched the team with whose draft pick he was selected.
Some other observations I had from the game: Brooklyn's turnovers were under control tonight, surprisingly. Normally when an offense plays as inefficiently as the Nets' did, turnovers are to blame. However, it was Portland that turned the ball over a bunch, doubling up their opponent in said category…..It doesn't really show it in the box score, but a major bright spot was the play of Reggie Evans and Mason Plumlee. Both guys grabbed a bunch of rebounds on both ends of the floor and fought hard to give the Nets extra possessions. Reggie was back to his usual tricks of multiple offensive boards in single possessions but did miss a few layups. Mason did what he usually does with regards to never giving up on a play, as he caused a few turnovers when Blazers weren't being careful. The most surprisingly aspect of the pair's play in this one was that they were a combined perfect 7-for-7 at the charity stripe. If they can significantly improve there, it would be a huge boon to the Nets……Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce combined to go 6-for-24 from the field and scored 24 points. 24 points in 24 shots is very poor efficiency and Joe and Paul haven't shot for high percentages in forever it seems. Add those things together and you get a cellar-dwelling Nets team…..Shaun Livingston was great again, and is really seeming to enjoy the playing time he gets as a starter when D-Will is hurt. He put up a team-high 23 on 8-of-14 shooting in addition to posterizing Robin Lopez on an early jam. Shaun can really get up for a point guard.
The Nets head down to North Carolina to play the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night. If they lose that one, then the negative feelings surrounding this team right now would certainly bubble to the surface.