Five Thoughts From The Nets' 114-112 Loss to The Thunder And Paul George’s Message to Those Making Fun of His Game Winning Shooting Stats (Video)Read Now
Here are my thoughts from the Nets tough 114-112 loss to the Thunder.
46 and 68. Those were the OKC Thunder point totals in the first and second half respectively. In the first half, the Nets did a good job of closing out defensive possessions by securing the rebound. They were able to run out on offense, put the ball in the hoop and settle back and load their defense, in the first half. The Thunder shot 36% from the field, including 33% from three. Some of that was their own ineptitude, but give the Nets credit, they were aggressive, closed out to shooters well, and held their own on the glass (in the first half) against the best rebounding team in the league.
But, the game is four quarters and as has been the case with the Nets lately, they could not sustain it down the stretch. The Thunder shot 51% from the field and 35% from three in the second half. But, Brooklyn had the lead, 93-75 going into the fourth quarter.
2. Fourth Quarter Execution
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The Nets were unable to execute down the stretch and gave away a lead in the closing quarter. Paul George went bonkers, so that was part of it. More on him in a moment. But for the Nets, shots that were falling in the first three quarters and even early in the fourth, stopped falling as the game tightened. We say this all the time. The NBA is a make or miss league. The Thunder made in the fourth when it mattered most, the Nets missed.
There were three key moments where the Nets really needed a conversion and they missed on shots they were connecting on with regularity all game.
Some of the Nets inability to execute was due to the Thunder’s ramped up pressure, physicality, and intensity. Thunder big man Steven Adams talked about it postgame.
Still, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was pleased with what he was getting from his team offensively in the fourth. Saying in his postgame availability, “it was about missed opportunities.
3. Paul George
If you give OKC Thunder fans truth serum, they would rather have Kevin Durant. But PG-13 did his best KD “Lite” impression on Wednesday night in Brooklyn. Through three quarters he was 6-15 for 22 points, 9 rebounds 3 assists, and a -7 rating. Something clicked for him in the third though. In his postgame media availability, he said, “I hit a shot, and felt I was in rhythm.” I asked about his aggressive fourth quarter postgame.
Sometimes that’s all these guys need. They need to see a particular shot go in, from a particular spot on the floor and then the floodgates open. PG-13 was “in the zone” in the 4th quarter. He outscored the Nets 25-19 in the final frame. He was 9-12 from the field, including 4-6 from three, and was a +19. This was a virtuoso performance, that included the game-winning three from the right side. He finished with 47 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 assists.
On that final play, Russell Westbrook had the ball and Allen Crabbe (PG-13’s defender) inexplicably lost track of PG-13 and doubled Russ. That left PG-13 wide open for the winning bucket. Following the game, Russ talked about baiting the defense into a double team and the obvious pass to PG-13 who had it going.
Did you know, that was PG-13’s first make on a go-ahead attempt with 10 seconds or less left in the fourth quarter or overtime? Previously, he was 0-14 on those shots in his career. Following the game, PG-13 had a message for those people who like to make jokes or memes regarding his late-game futility.
Regardless of the type of character guys, the Nets have in the locker room and they have great veterans like Jared Dudley, Ed Davis, and DeMarre Carroll, this loss will have an impact on team morale. This is the team’s eighth loss in a row and sixth straight at home. In those six home losses, the average margin is only 5 points. The team is in every single one of these games down the stretch, but for one reason or another cannot seem to hold on to leads or convert.
We’ve detailed it before, the loss of Caris LeVert is a major factor on both ends of the floor, but he was just coming into his own as a potential all-star in the league. A common denominator in these losses has been that the other teams have top-end, all NBA caliber talent to close games out (see PG-13, Jimmy Butler, Jaren Jackson Jr, Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell) and the Nets can’t match that.
5. Triple Doubles
Russell Westbrook had his 108th career triple-double to pass ex-Nets star and coach Jason Kidd for third in NBA history. A major accomplishment no doubt. But, we go a little overboard with this triple-double celebration. It’s completely understandable. The human brain, while complex, also prefers simplicity. Round numbers make it easy to quantify things and makes math less intimidating.
In Russ’ 2016-2017 MVP season he averaged 31, 10, and 10. The first time an NBA player has averaged a triple-double since the great Oscar Robertson. He had to win the MVP, it was a historical achievement. The following season he averaged 25, 10, and 10. He led the league in triple-doubles again, every night there was an alert or crawl along the bottom of the screen letting us know. But he didn’t sniff the MVP conversation. Weird, right?
A nice footnote and something that will go on his Hall of Fame plaque someday, but we need to look at these counting stats in context and talk intelligently about what they really mean and how they impact wins and losses.
Russ was honored to pass Jason Kidd and talked about it postgame.