BROOKLYN -- The Brooklyn Nets are struggling. They're coming off a tough three-game West coast trip, a trip in which they went in feeling good and came out losers of three straight. Monday night, the Nets were once again up against a depleted team, this time being the Miami Heat, who were without Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Josh McRoberts.
Similar to what we saw in Portland, the Nets failed to take advantage of a depleted Heat squad. Their offense looked abysmal at times and it ultimately led to their demise, 95-83. Once again, it was the second-half offensive woes that proved extremely alarming. The Nets are averaging 43 points in the second half compared to 54 points per first half. In this one, they scored 40 points in the second half.
However, it's only fair to give the Heat credit. They were heavily undermanned and shot just 43%, but they were able to control all aspects of the game once they got into the heads of the Nets' big three. That same big three of Lopez, Williams and Johnson combined for 25 points on a terrible 8-of-30 shooting. That will certainly end any chances of winning a close game with your stars playing like that.
Lionel Hollins was not happy with the team in the post-game. "It's disappointing when you're at home and you don't play with energy for 48 minutes."
When Mike Mazzeo asked him about Brook Lopez, the Nets coach said he didn't want to talk about individuals. "I don't want to talk about Brook Lopez. It's not a good time for me."
Asked if the team has an identity, Hollins responded, "I can tell you what our identity is. And it's not very good."
Andrei Kirilenko was inactive but healthy, sitting in street clothes. He said he had spoken with Hollins who he said he likes, but doesn't know what he needs to do to get back in the coach's good graces. AK-47 has played only 27 minutes this season and has not played in three of the last six games.
Top performers for Brooklyn: It was all Bojan Bogdanovic. The rookie Croat had another career night and it's just his 10th game in the league! He tied his career-high of 22 points on an impressive 4-of-5 shooting from three, and an even more impressive 8-of-11 overall in 41 minutes of action. His 22 points are the highest of any rookie this season --and he's done it twice. Jarrett Jack also stepped up to the plate, filling in the void for Deron Williams' tough shooting night. He scored 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting while dishing out three assists in 24 minutes. Although it didn't show up much in the box score (four points, nine rebounds), Kevin Garnett defended the rimb at a superb rate. The one block that showed up on the stat sheet didn't do Garnett's defense justice.
Top performers for Miami: Mario Chalmers led the way for Miami with 22 points on 5-of-12 shooting, but converted on 11-of-13 free throws that provided for half of his points. Following Chalmers was Chris Bosh who finished with 15 points and nine rebounds on 5-of-11 shooting. He was limited due to foul trouble.
Negative performers for Brooklyn: Brook Lopez once again struggled to find his game. He finished with five points and one rebound on 2-of-7 shooting in 22 minutes of action. Unacceptable for the Nets' big man. Along with Lopez, Joe Johnson finished with six points on 2-of-8 shooting with 37 minutes to his name, while Deron Williams shot a dreadful 4-of-13 from the field.
Quarter by quarter summary:
Deron Williams got the Nets offense started with seven-first quarter points on 3-of-6 shooting. Along with Williams, Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Johnson chipped in five apiece, but the rest of the Nets' offense struggled to get into a rhythm. They finished the quarter shooting 43% from the field, but hey, they finished 3-of-5 from three. That's three times the amount they finished with in Portland! As for Brook Lopez, he didn't exactly get off to an ideal start. The big fella checked out of the game somewhat earlier than usual due to foul trouble, failing to take advantage of a mismatch on Shawne Williams finishing the quarter with zero points on 0-of-3 shooting.
They led 21-19 after one.
It was an inconsistent second quarter for Brooklyn. With the help of the depleted Heat squad, they led in every major statistical category and held the Heat to just 37% shooting and 25% from three. Compared to those numbers, they finished the half 45% overall and 44% from three, but grabbed an impressive eight steals and scored seven points off nine Heat turnovers. The one guy the Heat were relying on, Chris Bosh, was contained to eight points on a poor 2-of-7 shooting. The Nets' defensive presence was scorching, but their offense could've used a spark.
On of the few sparks, Bojan Bogdanovic, was at the helm for Nets' scorers. He finished the half leading all game scorers with nine points on 4-of-6 shooting. Like the first, Deron Williams finished with seven points, while Mason Plumlee looked solid with seven rebounds -- but finished with two points on 1-of-5 from the field.
Score at the half: Nets 43, Heat 38.
Brooklyn Nets third quarters. The trend has been consistent throughout the years: this is what makes or breaks a lot of their games. Well, in this one, it wasn't pretty. The Nets held a minimal 51-49 lead, but a quick 11-0 run for Miami put them up nine with four and change remaining. It wasn't so much the Nets defense that was struggling, but rather the stagnant offensive sets filled with isolations. The ball movement looked extinct.
It also didn't help that the Nets' big three were a combined 7-of-23 from the field, with Deron Williams being the leader of it all on a horrid 3-of-10 shooting. It appeared that Bojan Bogdanovic was one of the few Nets that came ready to play, as he finished with 13 points in the third quarter with a total of 22 on 8-of-10 shooting. Without him, the Nets would have been doomed.
For Miami, it appeared that Norris Cole was their spark plug. He scored eight points in the third quarter and was heading into the fourth with 10 points. As a whole, the Heat shot an impressive 4-of-8 from three, despite having shot 3-of-12 in the first half. Out of nowhere, their perimeter game was a nightmare for the Nets.
The Nets were outscored 32-21 in the third and trailed, 70-64.
Despite being down just six, it seemed like the Nets had a lot of ground to make up. Every time they appeared to be making a come back, the Heat would shut it down; Mario Chalmers (22 points) and Chris Bosh (15 points) in particular. The Nets would finished the quarter having been outscored, 23-19. It was the lack of offensive leadership and stagnant offensive sets that ultimately doomed them in this game. The Heat finished the game shooting 43%, while the Nets finished at 42%. Once again, the Nets were out-assisted, 19-18. A big opportunity, yet again squandered.
Final score: Heat 95, Nets 83.
The next game for the Nets is the game we've all been waiting for: Jason Kidd's return. Wednesday, 7:30pm.
For more on the Miami Heat, check them out at Hot Hot Hoops.
- The Brooklyn Game