After taking a loss in Washington on Friday, the Nets came home and again fell victim, this time, to the San Antonio Spurs 111-86. After an impressive first half for the Nets, San Antonio decided it was best to get it over with quick, dominating the third quarter on both sides of the ball (more on that in a bit). The Spurs ended the game with two 30 point quarters, all while holding the Nets to just 29 total points in the second half. The Nets might have some adjusting to do moving forward. Let’s break down the game.
Box Score (Courtesy of ESPN.com): Here
The Nets came out fierce, scoring 35 points in the first quarter. Much of that 35 points came from Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson, who combined to score 18 points in the quarter. While Lopez posed his will against Tiago Splitter, Joe Johnson had some crafty moves, allowing him to get to the basket for some easy finishes within 10 feet. Along with Johnson and Lopez, the ball movement was crisp. The Nets found themselves creating a ton of good looks, and that resulted in seven first quarter assists.The second quarter saw much of the same. The Nets went on a 11-0 zero run to lead most of the quarter, but San Antonio rallied to go into halftime down just six.
At halftime, the Nets seemed to be on the right track. The Nets were shooting 56% from the field, and the big three of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez seemed to be on the verge of good games. Then, in the second half, San Antonio put the proverbial clamps on Brooklyn’s offense. The Nets went 6-14 from the field in the third quarter, but what killed the Nets was San Antonio’s perimeter ball defense. Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard were on the prowl, forcing Joe Johnson and Deron Williams to miss three shots in successions, all while forcing three turnovers.From the 8:02 point of the third quarter, San Antonio outscored Brooklyn 18 to 7, taking a 81-71 lead into the fourth, where San Antonio handled business from there.
The two x-factors that cost Brooklyn’s tonight’s win were the horrendous third quarter, and the point guard battle. As alluded to, the Nets couldn’t score in the third quarter, just 14 points in total, but the Nets also allowed San Antonio to score 30 points, mainly at the hands of Tony Parker. Tony Parker dominated the third quarter to the tune of 10 points and two assists. Even on plays where he didn’t score, he was making sure to push the pace when San Antonio regain possession. The most important Parker play of the game didn’t happen in the third, but it was pretty impressive. In a single possession, Parker found a way to strip Deron Williams of the ball as he was driving to the basket, the ball went to Gerald Wallace, who was also stripped by Parker as he entered the lane. Parker’s speed and composure was evident as San Antonio continued to score basket after basket, and that was the true turning point of the game.
Before we go to grades, Deron Williams had a disappointing game, but what was more telling was his three total field goal attempts in the second half. A large part of that was San Antonio sending Green and Leonard to work on him in switches, but a large part of that was Brooklyn’s lack of ball movement. At times, Williams was open in the corners, but Johnson and Humphries both took shots. I blame Williams for his lack of aggressiveness, but if the Nets want to win moving forward, you simply cannot have Williams attempt just three shots in the second half.
37 minutes, 3-11 shooting, 15 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, and -25 +/-
I don’t know how to sum up Williams’ performance. He wasn’t shooting the ball well, but dominated it in the first half. He was aggressive at times, but even that cooled off in the second half. Overall, I was pretty disappointed that Williams didn’t turn his game up as Tony Parker took over the third quarter. In 2008, Deron Williams doesn’t allow that to happen, he’ll make numerous plays to create offense. In this game? There were numerous times where Williams called for a pick and roll, got the ball to Joe Johnson, and got out the way. Not good. Grade: C-
36 minutes, 8-16 shooting, 19 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and -11 +/-
If you watched the first quarter and walked away, you would’ve thought Johnson was on the verge for a 40 point game. Low and behold, the Spurs decided Johnson was done for the night, sending Kawhi Leonard on him for the majority of the night. Johnson had a couple of good looks after the first quarter, but they weren’t connecting. Another shocking note, the two assists for Johnson is quite surprising. Johnson had the ball for a large amount of time, and for him not to run the offense, even for a couple of possessions, is quite surprising. Grade: C
32 minutes, 2-4 shooting, 5 points, 3 rebounds, and -25 +/-
Wallace was there, I know I saw him, but the numbers suggest he didn’t really do anything. I think the Nets need to find something to get Wallace to work again. Whether that’s more small ball to get him as a faster mismatch against power forwards, or even forcing him the ball. While Wallace doesn’t always look for his shot (he pump-fakes a ton, which is discouraging, yet annoying at the same time), he was helping moving the ball around, and that’s something that helped the offense in the first half. On defense, Wallace helped a ton on defense, but his solo defense was rather bland. At times, he left Green open a couple three-point attempts, but luckily for him, those didn’t turn out bad. Grade: D
19 minutes, 0-2 shooting, 1 point, 9 rebounds, and -1 +/-
For the most part, Reggie Evans did his job. In his time, he grabbed a ton of rebounds, and made it difficult for the Spurs to get rebounds. On that alone, he was helpful for the Nets. However, he was awful on defense, allowing Boris Diaw to score 10 points on 4-4 shooting, and even had an incredible pass against Evans for an easy score. Along with his defensive gaffs, Evans missed 5 free-throws. You have to make those, Reggie. Focus. Grade: D
34 minutes, 8-13 shooting, 18 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, and -15 +/-
The one positive for the Nets was Brook Lopez. Much like Johnson, Lopez caught fire in the first quarter, even hitting a jumper as the quarter closed. However, offense came very far and few between for Lopez after the second quarter. Along with his 18 points, Lopez did well on the boards, blocked a few shots, and challenged Parker when he came into the lane. Wasn’t his best performance, but it wasn’t his worst. He did alright. Grade: B-
Kris Humphries did alright, Andray Blatche seemed non-existent, but scored 6 points.Keith Bogans had a couple of threes that opened up the offense when he got out there. Other than that? The bench wasn’t very productive at all. This is where I call for the Mirza Teletovic-Gerald Wallace combo at small forward and power forward, not because it worked in this game, but I believe it takes pressure off both guys. Teletovic just wants to shoot threes and play offense, and Wallace seems determined on the defensive end. The lineup of Williams, Johnson, Teletovic, Wallace, and Lopez could be effective in small doses. Just a thought.
Moving Forward: The Nets don’t have much time to reflect on this loss, as they travel to play Indiana. This loss doesn’t just equal their second straight, but it also pushes them four games behind the New York Knicks. Thanks to a win over the Denver Nuggets, the Boston Celtics are now just 1.5 games behind Brooklyn for second place in the division. Nothing is considered a must win in the middle of the regular season, but the Nets need to win one of their games before the All-Star break.