Starting Five: Never again?
November, 14, 2013
By Mike Mazzeo | ESPNNewYork.com
After failing to show up and getting blown out in Orlando earlier this season, the Brooklyn Nets vowed it wouldn't happen again.
Well, on Wednesday night in Sacramento, it did.
Lifeless and lacking cohesion from the opening tip, the high-priced Nets were routed by the rebuilding Kings, 107-86, at Sleep Train Arena.
The Nets (2-5), who shot just 37.8 percent and trailed by as many as 23, have yet to win on the road this season (0-4). They have lost three in a row overall.
"If you would've told me this before the season started, I would've thought you were crazy,” Andray Blatche told reporters in Sacramento. "But it's happening early, so at least we have time to correct it and get on a winning path.”
The most troubling part is, the same issues to continue to arise and plague them.
- Defensively, they aren't trusting one another.
- The $82.4 million starting five -- which makes more than the rosters of 27 of the other 29 teams -- isn't playing well together.
- Third quarters have been an absolute disaster.
- Faster and more athletic teams are giving them fits.
"We got outplayed for pretty much the entire game there,” Brook Lopez said.
Marcus Thornton (24 points), Isaiah Thomas (19 points), Greivis Vasquez (17 points, 12 assists) and DeMarcus Cousins (15 points, nine rebounds) all had huge nights for the Kings (2-5), who snapped a five-game losing streak.
"It's unacceptable,” first-year coach Jason Kidd said of his team's defensive effort.
Meanwhile, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Lopez combined to shoot 20-for-56 from the field. Garnett, who has gotten off to a nightmarish start with his new team, went 2-for-9. He came in averaging 6.0 points per game. He scored six points Saturday night.
In 74 minutes playing together over the first seven games of the season, Brooklyn's starting five is being outscored by six points per 100 possessions (95.5 points for, 101.5 points against).
The Nets were outscored 28-19 in the third, and are 0-5 this season when losing that quarter. They have been outscored by 41 points in those games.
Brooklyn was playing Sacramento's brand basketball instead of its own. The Nets had 15 turnovers and 14 assists. Offensively, they were stagnant, often settling for isolations. Their frustrations were evident. And it showed on D, as the high-octane Kings controlled the pace.
"We don't score, we hang our heads and then they score on the other end,” Kidd said.
Good teams with championship aspirations don't fail to show up against bad teams.
The Nets have to hope this doesn't become a trend. "Actually, we practice harder than we play,” Blatche said, incredulously. "So we gotta take that effort and intensity level from practice to games.”
They are glad this is happening early. This is a process, after all.
"This is a great time for us as a group, because it's gonna test us,” Kidd said. "This can only bring us together, because it's not going to be easy. every night we're going to get everyone's best shot.”
But the Nets want to pick it up. They want to show everyone they're for real. "Talking is over with. Too much talking. We've done enough talking and now it's time for some action,” Jason Terry said, according to Newsday.
"Time to look in the mirror,” KG added, according to the team website.
Their reflection is that of a team that isn't getting it done -- especially effort-wise.
That's probably why the Twitter handle @FireJasonKidd was created. In the second half of regular-season Game No. 7.
Maybe it's time for Mikhail Prokhorov to make a rash, early-season guarantee -- like the hated owner on the other side of the East River.
His team, it seems, could use the motivation.
In case you missed it: Read this recap. Pretty much sums up a bad first game out West.
Making them smile: The Nets went to a hospital and brightened the day for many children. Pretty awesome.
Question: What would you change if you were Kidd in order to right the ship?
What's next: The Nets hit the practice court before taking on the Suns in Phoenix Friday night.