The struggling Brooklyn Nets are in Memphis, taking on the Grizzlies on Saturday night at FedEx Forum in the second half of a back-to-back set. Here’s what we’ll be watching for:
ENERGY AND EFFORT: They weren’t there in Houston on Friday night. As a result, Nets coach Jason Kidd elected to bench four of his five starters for the entire second half. In all, the Nets gave up a franchise-worst 19 3-pointers and trailed by as many as 32. They have been outscored 67-35 in their past two first quarters. They rank last in defensive efficiency, giving up a staggering 106.1 points per 100 possessions.They are just 4-12 overall and have lost 10 of their last 12 games.
STRUGGLES ABOUND: Paul Pierce is shooting 31.1 percent in his past 11 games, including 23.8 percent from 3-point range. Shaun Livingston is shooting 22.2 percent in his past six games, while averaging just 3.7 assists in 25 minutes. These guys have to be better.
BROOK-LYN: Brook Lopez said he felt great after scoring 16 points in 21 minutes Friday night in his return following a seven-game absence due to a sprained left ankle injury, and expects to play in Saturday night’s game. That’s certainly good news for a team that has struggled to score.
INJURY REPORT: Deron Williams (ankle), Andrei Kirilenko (back) and Jason Terry (knee) are all out. Kevin Garnett (rest), who has a defensive rating of 105.6, is expected to play. That means first-year coach Kidd will likely have a decision to make regarding who he pulls from his rotation. Is it going to be Mirza Teletovic, who is averaging 17.5 points on 53.8 percent shooting from 3-point range in his past two games? Wouldn’t want to be in Kidd’s shoes, that’s for sure.
WALKING IN MEMPHIS: The Grizzlies (8-7) have lost their past three home games. Memphis is a pretty balanced team. Mike Conley leads the way in scoring (18.5 ppg), while Zach Randolph is the team’s leading rebounder (9.1 rpg). The Grizzlies are the NBA’s slowest team, which is good news for a Nets team that gets beaten regularly by faster outfits.