Jarrett Jack may have put it best after the Nets suffered a 107-99 OT loss to the undefeated Golden State Warriors. "They say almost only counts in horseshoes and definitely not the sport we are playing," Jack said. Especially when you're 1-9.
Talk about a week that toyed with emotions. The Nets were 0-7 prior to last week with expectations as low as can be. Not to mention, they had to face the talented, yet struggling Rockets, DeMarcus Cousins, and to cap things off: Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors.
It wasn't easy, but if the phrase, "So close, yet so far" were to ever be used in a situation, this would be it.
Where we stand
The Nets are now 1-9 after a 1-2 week on the West coast. They had plenty of opportunities to take at least two of the three and come home on a positive note.
But the Nets gonna Nets.
And instead of what could've been, they now find themselves in second-to-last place in the Eastern Conference, one game ahead of the 0-10 Sixers.
It started in Houston where the Nets were looking for their first win of the season. Facing the tough duo of James Harden & Dwight Howard was a task in its own for a team that has cracked 100 points only one time in the seven games prior.
But they got it done. The Nets went into Houston with a purpose and defeated them, 106-98. It was actually refreshing to hear the announcers say, "The fans are now exiting the building," in a game in which the Nets were going to win.
They finally put their foot down They fell down 11 in the third quarter, but didn't fold. Instead, they came back and rode the bench who scored 56 points behind the lead of Bojan Bogdanovic, Shane Larkin, Andrea Bargnani and Thomas Robinson.
It set the tone for a week that very well could've ended up in a three-game win streak for the Nets. Their inability to close out games was the difference maker as the week grew older.
The Nets were feeling good after their first victory of the season and their next opponent was the Sacramento Kings, a team facing some turmoil between coach George Karl and DeMarcus Cousins. But ironic enough, that turned out to be the best thing for the Kings in this game.
Boogie scored 19 straight points in the third quarter, 21 total, and single handedly put the Kings on top in the second half. After he went off for his quick 21 points, Karl took him out and he was noticeably angry. But if anything, that woke the beast even more. He finished with 40 points & 13 rebounds, but late in the fourth, he fouled out and gave the Nets a chance to climb their way back.
But like I said, Nets will Nets.
They had a chance to win the game with under two seconds down two, until they failed to inbounds the ball cleanly.
It was a gut-wrenching loss. After shocking the Houston Rockets on the road and barely losing to Sacramento, it was tough to determine when the next victory cigar would be for the guys in black & white.
The Nets led for the entire game. The Warriors made a run late in the fourth quarter and picked up their only lead since 5-4 in the first quarter. It almost didn't feel real, but the Nets mantra of fighting until the end seemed about right. (New mantra on this West coast trip, anyway).
The Nets found themselves up three with a little over 10 seconds. The Warriors inbounded the ball inside the perimeter, but the Nets failed to foul and it costed them. Andre Iguodala tied the game up with a three-pointer with six seconds left. The Nets got two legitimate chances to win this game. It started with a Jarrett Jack contested jumper. It essentially ended, or felt like it was over, after Brook Lopez missed a WIDE-open layup opportunity with .5 remaining. Had he hit the routine layup, the Nets would've been walking out of Golden State with a 2-1 record on the West coast trip.
The Warriors won, 107-99, after out-scoring the Nets 10-2 in the overtime period. The deflation was real.
"Joe, he put that on a platter and I blew it," Lopez said following the loss. "It's a long flight home so that's not going to be fun."
If they execute in the final moments, we're talking about the Nets stealing AT LEAST one of the two games in Sacramento or Golden State.
Jarrett Jack: Usually I'm pretty hard on Jarrett because of his ridiculous shot selection, but in a week where Brook Lopez struggled, I gotta give Jack a huge thumbs up for stepping up to the plate when the Nets needed it most. He started the week with a poor 3-of-10 shooting night in Houston -- eventually losing minutes behind Larkin -- but came in late and nailed the dagger to put the Nets up six with a minute remaining.
Against Sacramento, Jack dished out nine assists to go with his 21 points. Jack created offense and distributed the ball probably the best I've ever seen from him. One game later, he dropped 28 points and 12 assists in front of a rambunctious Golden State crowd.
When the Nets needed a big shot, Jack was the guy. Unfortunately he missed the shot that could've potentially won it for the Nets.
Thaddeus Young: Talk about somebody really flying under the radar right now. Thad has scored 10+ points in nine of the first 10 games the Nets have played, averaging 14.6 points and eight rebounds.
On the West coast trip, Thad averaged 18 points on 58 percent shooting. His great week was capped off with a 26-point night in Golden State where Draymond Green admitted to Sarah Kustok after the game that, "Thaddeus Young was killing me in the first half."
It's early, but Thad's earning the big payday he received.
Notable mentions: Bojan Bogdanovic, Shane Larkin.
Joe Johnson: What has happened to Joe Jesus?
Perhaps the wear and tear of playing 30+ minutes per game is getting to Joe yet again, but it's been depressing to watch him on this decline. It's hard to bash Joe completely because he still makes big plays when the Nets need them, even if he's not the one scoring. He seems to be the best creator on this team.
Joe is coming off a 3-of-12 night in Golden State where he clearly had no lift under his shot on a second night of a back-to-back. He made a beautiful lob pass to Lopez in the end, but other than that Joe was more of a liability on the floor than anything. Hollins still insists on playing him hefty minutes, though, as Joe has logged an average of 37 minutes per game in November.
He was 3-of-13 this past week and is now 7-of-36 (19%) from three-point this season. Remember when he nailed eight threes in one quarter?
Andrea Bargnani: There is so much to say about Bargnani. But the worst part about it, by far, is that HE was brought in to be Lopez's primary backup. This was the hand Hollins was dealt. If Lopez were to suffer an injury, or on a smaller scale -- need a breath, Bargnani might be the last guy I want coming in. With a bad history of injuries, incompetence on the defensive end with a limited offensive skill-set -- it's near impossible for Hollins to trust him when he checks into the game for Lopez.
Bargnani was 7-for-21 in the three games this past week. He played decent in the first game against Houston, providing a quick scoring punch late in the game when it was very much needed. But in Sacramento, Bargnani went 2-for-8 and became a black hole for the offense. The second he touched the ball, everybody knew it was going up. No passes necessary. Hollins was evidently nervous to get him in the game vs. the Warriors because he only played eight minutes. Lopez played 42.
With his shot off and essentially non-existent defense against bigger and better centers, why should he be trusted?
Reed Wallach showed us some classic Bargs post-up attempts against a much smaller player:
Watch Bargnani fail to get post position on Ian Clark: pic.twitter.com/lJCVy8sXJ1— Reed Wallach (@ReedWallach) November 15, 2015
Highlight of the week
Lionel Hollins coached exceptionally well on the West coast trip, but something must be addressed. The miscommunication amongst players and coaches is baffling. For the second time this season, the Nets players either didn't hear or chose to ignore Coach Hollins in a late game situation. When you're up three against the NBA's best shooting team, you NEED to foul within the perimeter. Why give them a chance?
According to Hollins, he told his guys to foul but they didn't. It ultimately costed them the game after Iguodala tied the game with a desperation three. Was it miscommunication? Was it the players not listening? Or was it not called in the huddle? Either way, it resulted in an L.
Others were just as confused...
They passed the ball inside the arc!!! How do you not FOUL?— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) November 15, 2015
Next week, the Nets will face Atlanta, Charlotte, and then Boston twice in a row. Maybe during a time where the Nets take step forward, they'll finally get some W's to show for it. It could've been that way this past week, but 'almost' won't ever cut it.