Almost doesn't count. The Brooklyn Nets almost ended the Golden State Warriors' winning streak a few weeks ago, but lost in overtime. Last night, they almost ended the Cleveland Cavaliers' home winning streak, but lost thanks to LeBron James' game winner. They're getting close, but they're still a ways away and the losses keep stacking up. This is the second night of a back-to-back for Brooklyn and their last game of November. Maybe December will bring some positive results.
The opponent this evening will be the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons are off to a decent start and should be competing for a playoff spot throughout the season. They lost their last contest on Friday night, a 103-80 decision to the Thunder in Oklahoma City. The Pistons are 8-8 and a hair behind the Charlotte Hornets for eighth in the East.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV (unless you're a Comcast customer), WFAN 101.9 FM on the radio. Tip off is after 6 PM.
Donald Sloan was unavailable thanks to an illness, and it's unlikely he plays tonight. Willie Reed is back on the roster after tearing a ligament in his thumb during the preseason.
Brandon Jennings ruptured his Achilles tendon last season and hasn't played this year. He's making progress and hopes to make his season debut around Christmas.
It's not often the coach's pregame comments are worth pointing, but Lionel Hollins got himself in some hot water with Nets fans yesterday. There's a lot going on here, and there'll be a lot more on it in the coming days.
I think you could make a damn good case for Andre Drummond as best Center in the league one month into the season. He's the league's best rebounder and is rebounding at levels we haven't seen since Dennis Rodman. He creates so much havoc on the glass that teams have to give so much of their attention that it creates great looks for his teammates from three point range. Dre has been horrendous in the low post, and if he can become respectable in the low block, he'll become an even better player. Don't be surprised if he's named to the Eastern Conference All Star team this season.
The Drummond-Brook Lopez will be a great contrast in styles. While Drummond has an active motor and is all over the court, Lopez is more of a traditional big man that backs his opponent down on the inside and generates points in the low post. He had a nice showing last night and will look to get Dre in early foul trouble.
Even though they are seventh in three point attempts, the Pistons are shooting a ghastly 31 percent from that part of the court. Only the Nets and Rockets are worse from downtown. Ball movement has been a problem for this club and if they start to do a better job of moving the ball around, maybe success from deep will follow. The Nets held Cleveland below their averages from three last night, so they'll be looking to keep it up and continue the Pistons' struggles from downtown.
Joe Johnson hasn't been able to break out of his funk, and tonight he'll be guarded by one of the Pistons' best defenders. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is usually assigned to the opponent's best perimeter player, and he's beginning to earn a rep as one of the league's elite defenders. Even as Johnson continues to struggle, the Nets will continue to rely on him to be their secondary scoring option on offense after Lopez.
Player to watch: Reggie Jackson
At this time last year, Jackson was an unhappy bench player in Oklahoma City. He had gotten an increased role with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook out with injury, but he didn't play well and even had his teammates freeze him out during a loss in Brooklyn. Around the trading deadline, it looked as if he was set to join Brooklyn in exchange for Brook Lopez in a four team deal, but the deal fell apart at the last minute and he was sent to Detroit as part of a three team trade. The Pistons later signed Jackson to a five year, $82 million contract in the off-season. He returned to Oklahoma City on Friday, and wasn't able to put on a show for his former teammates
Jackson does a good job of getting to the rim in this offense, as his almost 13 drives to the basket lead the league. He could stand to improve on his efficiency at the basket, as his 57 percent from the field is essentially league average. As a guard in a Stan Van Gundy offense, he's expected to take a bunch of three pointers. 27 percent of his attempts have come from three, and he's shooting 35.2 percent from downtown, second best on the team.
For all of his flaws, Jarrett Jack has played respectably over the past three weeks. He's received criticism for not keeping his teammates involved in the offense, he is sixth in the league in assists per game and second in hockey assists. He's still prone to taking awful, ill timed shots, but he's done some good things that are worth mentioning. For this game, he'll be chasing Jackson around pick and rolls all night. Jackson has been the ball handler on 205 pick and rolls, the second highest total in the league. The Nets are going to need to make sure they're on the same page defensively because if they're not, they're going to give up a lot of open looks.
From the Vault
Out in Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant is taking too many shots and it's costing the Lakers wins. If you're familiar with Bryant's career, something similar happened at the worst possible time for LA. Let Chauncey Billups explain:
Our game plan was very calculated. We knew we were going to play Shaq straight-up. We knew there was no way we could stop Shaq straight-up. And there was also no way we could stop Kobe straight-up. But, if we’re going to play Shaq straight-up, [the Lakers'] eyes are going to get big, which means they’re going to keep throwing it down there. We’re telling Ben the whole time, "Take fouls when you need to, but don’t get yourself into foul trouble. You need to give up a layup, cool, we’re going to get what we want on the other side." But what’s going to happen is Mr. Bryant is going to get a little discouraged with getting no touches and now the second half comes around…now he’s pressing. He’s going to start coming down and just breaking the offense. When you do that, you’re done—you’re playing right into our hands. Even if you start making those shots, you’re finished.
And with that, head back to 2004 and watch the Pistons goad Kobe into shooting his team out of a Championship.
More reading: Detroit Bad Boys
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Detroit Pistons Game Notes - Detroit Pistons
- Pistons-Nets Preview - Kevin Chroust - STATS LLC
Detroit Pistons vs. Brookyln Nets: Game info, TV, radio, etc. - Kirkland Crawford - Detroit Free Press