While not much was to be expected of the Brooklyn Nets in their first game after hearing the news of Brook Lopez's season-ending broken foot injury, more than two quarters of sustained effort and energy shouldn't have been too much to ask for. Unfortunately for those at the game, me, and other fans of this team, the Nets only tried to play defense, rebound, or take decent shots for around 25 minutes this evening.
Lackadaisical "performance" has consistently been a hallmark of the Nets this season, and is a main reason as to why this team of All-Stars and other talented supporting players is a horrific 9-18 (33% winning percentage!).
Don't get me wrong, the Nets weren't down by double digits for the whole team, or even at all in the first half. In fact, Brooklyn was up by as much as six points in the 1st quarter until the Nets didn't score for over five minutes, allowing the Pacers to storm back and take control of the lead. Then, in the 2nd quarter, an Alan Anderson three quickly returned the advantage to Jason Kidd's squad, but a trio of former Net C.J. Watson free throws stole it right back. From that point on until the game ended, Indiana held the lead and only expanded it.
The Pacers were up 45-39 at the end of the 1st half, and would build on said lead into the 3rd quarter–the Nets' normal death quarter. Displaying no desire to get back into the game, the Nets basically stopped playing defense in the 3rd, allowing Indiana to score 30 points in the frame, winning it by eleven. So heading into the 4th, Brooklyn was in a double-digit deficit from which the Nets could have attempted to come back from, but rather chose to continue letting the Pacers hit open three-pointers and grab offensive rebounds.
Granted, Indiana currently has the best record in the Eastern Conference, so a banged-up Nets team probably has no business winning a game such as tonight's. However, and coach Jason Kidd should realize this, there's a difference between being overmatched by an opponent and letting an opponent have its way on offense AND defense. The Nets subscribed to the 2nd school of thought this evening, and allowed Indiana to win one of their easiest contests of the season.
This is just a feeling, but this latest exercise in Nets futility stands out amongst the rest–and there are plently to choose from in just this year alone. Brooklyn competed early on, but fell off the proverbial cliff in the 2nd half not due to purely some missed shots or unlucky breaks, but because of a total defensive letdown. Brooklyn simply stopped contesting shots and taking high-percentage ones, two major aspects of basketball games teams need to succeed in in order to win.
Some other observations I had from the game: The Nets miss Brook Lopez desperately, and have 55 more games to play this season without him. Brooklyn was outrebounded by a 46-36 margin and shot a dreadul 38 percent from the field, a number that would certainly be raised by Lopez' inside presence and the open shots he produces…..Paul Pierce had an eventful 15 minutes, both getting ejected for a flagrant foul on George Hill and garnering his first scoreless game (0-for-7 shooting) since 1999. Your 2013-14 Brooklyn Nets!…..Jason Terry returned from a knee injury which cost him over a month of games. He hit three three-pointers–scoring 11 points–and was the only Nets to post a positive +/- rating (+5). He also brought some energy, passion, and intensity to a team that mailed it in as soon as the 2nd half began…..Reggie Evans gets another DNP-CD in a game the Nets could have seriously used his rebounding and defensive abilities. I don't get it either.
Hopefully the Nets don't have too much eggnog on Christmas Eve so they can at least compete with the Bulls at Barclays in Wednesday's Christmas Day game. That's because Brooklyn mailed in their game tonight in the beginning of the 3rd quarter.