The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Kings 109, Nets 96

This one hurts it’s so frustrating. Take a look at the box score; the Nets lost by 13 points overall, and 13 points in the first quarter. In other words, they played the Kings (their best chance to avoid history at 0-18) equal for the vast majority of the game; but they came out flat and unprepared and essentially gave the game away in the first 12 minutes. It is very, very difficult to not attribute this to coaching as much as to the players- it’s a coach’s job to help keep the team motivated and ready to go, it’s probably the most crucial aspect of his job when a team is on a bad streak like this, and that was completely absent tonight. Throw in the ridiculous stunt in the 4th with deliberate off-ball fouling of Omri Casspi which managed to lose the Nets their dignity along with the game, and it becomes increasingly hard to justify Frank staying on. All things run their course, and after more than 5 years it’s pretty clear that his time with this team is up. The counter-argument is that it would be somehow scape-goating the coach; I’d prefer to think of it as starting the fix at the easiest-to-reach point.

As a technical matter the Nets’ offense still stinks; they can’t space the floor, they don’t really move off the ball, they play tight and force bad shots, they lose their concentration continually (see: having two inbounds passes picked off), etc. etc. To be honest it’s not an offense with problems so much as one which is poor in every phase of the game. Some of that is injury issues as Yi Jianlian for instance, with all his flaws, would still be helpful now for the range he can add to the offense; some of it however, maybe most of it, is not. Devin Harris was available for this game, started, and played 38 minutes; Brook Lopez started and played 45. These are talented players, and in CDR they in theory have a competent third option out there. Yet once again they managed collectively to shoot below 40%, and it’s impossible to say exactly what it is that the team is trying to do on offense. It looks for all the world like 5 guys just running around, a glorified pickup game. And as has been the case, that’s still the issue; Sacramento is actually an above-average offensive team (11th), and the Nets did not turn in a shameful performance against them at all. But with an offense like this there’s only so far that will go. There was a signal play in the 3rd I believe tonight which to me said a great deal: Devin Harris stole the ball down 7 or 8 points, broke in alone towards the net and then deliberately slowed in order to allow a defender to catch up to him, hoping to draw a foul. Instead the defender did a nice job of harassing him without fouling and forced a miss. I wouldn’t criticize Harris on the play; to me it didn’t appear a miscue so much as a player who has no confidence in the offense or most of his teammates trying to use his smarts to steal an extra point in transition. It’s not a high-percentage play, and the fact that Harris was even attempting it says a lot about what he thinks of the situation. It’s desperation time.

The worst thing about this game is that I really don’t know when this streak is going to end now. The Lakers and Dallas are the next two teams up and those are near-certain losses. Charlotte follows and could be a win, but they’ve just had a team shakeup with the Jacko trade, have won 3 in a row, and will be well-rested with three days off between games. After them it’s the Knicks in one of those derby games which take place in a world unto themselves, away to Chicago, and then home to Golden State. The not-particularly-Ultimate Warriors look to be the best bet to end this streak, which would have risen to an ungodly 21 straight by that point- over a quarter of a season. If that game is lost… well, we get another shot at Minnesota on the 23rd of next month. God help us if that becomes relevant. It’s not worth dwelling on but this has the potential to be one of the all-time bad teams; they can make history in two games obviously, but beyond that- for large chunks of these games, the Nets are really trying. And they’re STILL getting pasted. If Frank is kept around for money reasons or management blindness reasons and the team thoroughly quits on him it’s really anyone’s guess how bad this could be. It’s going to be an utterly wretched season regardless, but it would be nice to get at least 20 wins for respectability purposes.

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November 28, 2009 - Posted by | The Nets |

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