- Isaac Brendel
Nets Notes: Sloppy effort leads to 3rd straight loss
photo credit: Nick Friar
After back-to-back losses, the Brooklyn Nets knew what they needed to do on Tuesday in Detroit against a rebuilding Pistons team to get back on track. A big, decisive victory was needed to send a message. Well, with Kevin Durant out, we got the exact opposite of that. The Nets' defensive struggles continue, as they continue to play down to opponents of lesser skill. This Nets team's ceiling was never in question, and what they do come playoff time could still be exceptional. However, if the Nets continue this mentality and lack motivation, their playoff seeding could take a massive hit.
The first twelve minutes of play for the Nets was perhaps their worst stretch of the season thus far. There even seemed to be a quarrel on the Nets bench involving James Harden and DeAndre Jordan. At one point, the Pistons scored thirteen unanswered points, getting ahead with a comfortable lead in the first quarter. The Nets picked it up but still looked off. This carried into halftime and even into the beginning of the third quarter. Finally, it seemed as if the Nets had hit their stride, but they could not continue their momentum and get anything going after the hot stretch. James Harden had 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 12 assists, falling just short of his 51st career triple-double for the second straight game. Kyrie Irving had 27 points, 2 rebounds, and 7 assists. Landry Shamet has continued to improve his game. Shamet and Jeff Green both recorded 10 points. The Nets had 26 points in the first quarter, 28 in the second, 32 in the third, and 25 in the fourth. The final score was 122-111.
The Nets did have Durant out of the lineup (seven-day quarantine) and Kyrie Irving with an evident finger issue that carried over from Saturday night when he didn't play. Yet this doesn't excuse the issue that continues to haunt them. Against teams with fewer wins, the Nets look like an undisciplined and average basketball team. They are so much more than this; that is widely known and was established a long time ago. With a dysfunctional defense that struggles from a lack of effort from time to time, Brooklyn continues to dig itself into holes. One player like Andre Drummond will not automatically solve this issue. Motivation will, and head coach Steve Nash must preach this message to his group. There are no concerns about lacking a playoff mentality. Still, to make the playoffs and get an opponent that won't give you too much of a headache, regular-season success is imperative. The Nets need to change this culture, and it needs to be done quickly. The schedule and road ahead are not easy, but the good news is that based on what we've seen so far in terms of effort, the Nets will leave everything they have on the court against the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers in upcoming games.
The Nets play another struggling team, the Indiana Pacers, at Barclays Center tomorrow at 8:00 PM Eastern Time. It is questionable who will and won't play. Kevin Durant remains in quarantine until Friday, and the Nets look to have him back to play his former team, the Warriors, on Saturday.