Five Thoughts From Nets 101-91 Loss to The Jazz, And Rudy Gobert on Finding a Defensive Rhythm (Video)Read Now
Coming off Sunday’s tough loss to the 76ers, the Nets were looking to rebound on this extended homestand against the Jazz. For three quarters it looked like they had put Sunday’s game behind them. But some familiar problems reared their collective ugly heads and the Nets dropped their fourth straight game, and are 2-8 in their last 10 games. Here are my thoughts from Wednesday’s 101-91 loss to the Jazz.
1. A First Half Collective Hangover?
The first half of basketball in Brooklyn on Wednesday night was not pretty. The Jazz led 43-42 at the half and it wasn’t stellar defense being played by either team. They both looked out of sync and in a funk. We mentioned the Nets heartbreaking loss to the 76ers on Sunday, maybe they were still feeling the aftershock? The Jazz were in Indiana on Monday getting waxed by the Pacers. Maybe they were still licking their wounds? Maybe both teams hit the NYC clubs last night and were literally hungover? Whatever it was, that first half set the game of basketball back to the days of two set shots and no shot clocks. It was ugly. Both teams combined to shoot 36% from the field (36 of 91). The score was 17-16 at the end of the first quarter.
2. Spencer Dinwiddie & D’Angelo Russell Were…
Not good. We touted them, rightfully so, at the end of the 76ers game. As good as they were Sunday night, they were just as bad on Wednesday. The duo shot a combined 11-36 from the floor for 32 points. They looked out of sorts. Dinwiddie fouled out late in the game, he had 18 points, 0 assists, 2 turnovers, and was a -15 from the floor. Russell took and missed a majority of the shots, finishing 6-25. Some of that was the Jazz defense in the second half, particularly, where he finished 2-11.
Despite the poor play from their backcourt, the Nets had an eight-point lead heading into the final quarter…
3. Seems like Poor 4th Quarters Are This Season’s Poor Third Quarters…
The team’s struggles in the third quarter of games last season were well documented. Lately, it seems like the 4th quarter is their new achilles heel. Part of that is the absence of Caris LeVert. The injured guard is the team’s go-to option in late game situations. His ability to create his own shot and create for others is sorely missing. The Nets were outscored 31-13 in the 4th quarter Wednesday night. In their last two games, they are a -33 in point differential in the 4th. That simply won’t get it done. Some of that was the Jazz defense, which apparently found its groove on Wednesday night in Brooklyn. But part of the blame goes on the Nets as well. They were very stagnant on offense and following the game head coach Kenny Atkinson talked about the ball “sticking” too much and the lack of assists.
4. Ed Davis Can Rebound
The veteran big man from North Carolina finished with 10 boards on Wednesday night in 16 minutes of action. The Nets as a whole were pretty good on the boards, they finished even with Utah at 48. The aforementioned Davis, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (11), and Jarrett Allen (10) were the big contributors. Would Davis playing more minutes help? He isn’t a threat offensively, but his per 36 minutes rebounding numbers are off the charts, 17 per game! Kenny and the coaching staff wouldn’t have to run any plays for him, and he could help end defensive possessions and on the other end, he could grab tip-ins, putbacks, and keep offensive possessions alive. Just a thought…
5. Talent, the Draft and Free Agency
The Nets have talent. Kenny and GM Sean Marks have built a tremendous culture, which I’ve written about many times. But, they currently lack top end talent. It shows up in the 4th quarter of games when teams that have star players like Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid, and Donovan Mitchell can just go to “their guy” and he can get a bucket or make a play. We talked about LeVert being out, as he was developing into that player for the Nets. But, heading into the trade deadline, the draft, and this summer’s free agency period, the Nets brass needs to hit big. It’s simple and cliche but top end talent wins in this league. Period. If the Nets are going to show what the culture and environment they’ve built in Brooklyn is all about, they need to win. We are a quarter of the way through the season and the Nets are six games under .500. It will take a herculean effort to make a playoff push. That may not be likely, but the plan to increase the team’s talent has to begin to take precedence, in the wake of a season that will include more losses than wins.
The Utah Jazz were one of the best defensive teams in the NBA last season. It has been a bit of a tough start to this season for them defensively. But, defensive player of the year, Rudy Gobert sees things changing for the Jazz.