Five Thoughts From The Nets' 123-112 Loss to The Hornets, Including Kemba Walker's Postgame Drip (Video)Read Now
Here are five thoughts from the Nets’ 123-112 loss to the Hornets at Barclays Center on Friday night.
1. The Nets are 4-6 in their last 10…
Losers of 4 of their last 5 at home and 2 in a row. No matter how you slice it, that’s not good. Including tonight against Miami, the Nets have 18 games remaining and will likely need to play at a 57-60% win rate to solidify their playoff berth. The Nets are currently the #6 seed, but only one game ahead of the #7 seed Pistons and two games ahead of the Hornets. The Magic and Heat – currently out of the playoffs – are within 1.5 games. It’s going to be a nailbiter for the Nets and their fans. Their final game of the season (April 10th) against the Heat, might be for a playoff berth.
Friday night’s loss to the Hornets was bad and with a quick turnaround in Miami on Saturday night, the Nets need to activate “playoff mode” now.
2. Jarrett Allen’s rebounding rate the last few games has been off
Allen is averaging 8.5 rebounds a game for the season which is pretty good for the second year player. But, in 23 minutes of action Friday night he only grabbed 2. Only 16 total rebounds in his last three games. Some of that was a function of his minutes and situations where rebounds were available. However, on a few key plays, he was outmuscled and rebounds were taken away from him. That can’t happen for the Nets, as every possession matters for this team right now.
For the season, Allen is just outside the top 25 in total rebound percentage, which is excellent. He grabs 17% of all available rebounds when he’s on the floor. For context, the league leader (Hassan Whiteside), grabs 25.9%. Allen’s teammate, Ed Davis, is #2 at just over 25%. As a team, the Nets are top 10 in the league in rebounding. An important stat when closing out possessions on defense and getting second chances on the offensive end. Allen will need to pick it up over the last 18 games to help keep the Nets in the playoff picture.
3. D’Angelo Russell has to be the bus driver
DLo finished with 22 points and 9 assists in Friday’s loss. He wasn’t very efficient, taking 24 shots to get his 22 points. But it appeared as though he was caught in between two roles during the game. Being an aggressive scorer on the one hand and a playmaker on the other. Of course, that is the conundrum for every point guard in the NBA. But, DLo seemed to be getting the hang of it during his spectacular play in January and the early part of February.
However, the return of Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie has seemingly complicated matters for him. DLo and the Nets are happy to have their full squad back, but it is taking some time to adjust. Unfortunately, with only 18 games remaining, there isn’t a lot of time to figure out chemistry and roles. This is the other part of injuries and re-entry into the lineup that is often overlooked.
Prior to their returns, the team was functioning well with DLo as the lead orchestrator and everyone else playing off him. LeVert and Dinwiddie will have to do that when they are on the court together. Obviously, LeVert and Dinwiddie are special with the ball in their hands, but they are better off the ball (especially LeVert) than Russell. Head coach Kenny Atkinson will have to work on different ways to keep LeVert and Dinwiddie active off the ball while allowing DLo to drive the bus and let the others play off him.
4. Inability to stop dribble penetration
As a whole, the Nets defense was atrocious on Friday. They gave up 68 points in the first half. Regardless of the issues on offense, they scored 112 points, the defense is the immediate area of concern. That’s two games in a row, the Nets have given up 68 points in the first half. Again, not to beat a dead horse, this is the wrong time of the season to be trending this direction.
Friday’s problems seemed to be with dribble penetration. Hornets’ all-star Kemba Walker got past his man at will. To be fair, Kemba does that to everyone. But, Jeremy Lamb, Nicolas Batum, and Tony Parker all lived in the paint. The stress that dribble penetration put on the defense manifested in slow rotations and easy shots at the rim for Hornets’ big man Frank Kaminsky, who finished with 15 points.
Following the game Nets’ head coach Kenny Atkinson talked about the team’s loss and their struggles on defense.
5. The Hornets’ “others”
Kemba Walker gets top billing, and rightfully so. He was good Friday night. He finished with 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 steals. But it was the Hornets’ “others”, as TNT analyst and Basketball Hall of Famer Shaq calls non-stars, who made the difference on Friday night. This was a “must win” game for the Hornets as they are holding on to that #8 seed. They came into the game with a playoff-type intensity and attitude that the Nets were unable to match.
Nicolas Batum had 17 points, Jeremy Lamb came off the bench with 22, and Frank Kaminsky had 15. A collective effort is what the Hornets know they’ll need to make the postseason.
Following the game, Batum and Lamb talked about their focus and how they have to help Walker in order to clinch a playoff berth.
Kemba Walker also talked postgame. Check out that drip!