Fourth quarter collapse, you say? Is that a problem for the Nets. As the Nets beat writers reported Monday, it may be the BIG problem.
The Nets are 8-22 overall. But 13 of the losses have come after the Nets either led, were tied or were within a basket in the fourth quarter. Go 6-7 in those games and the Nets are 14-16. OK, not great.
But not 8-22, either.
In their past three fourth quarters, the Nets have shot 37.7 percent from the field, committed 17 turnovers and been outscored by 23 points.
On Dec. 18 at Indiana, the Nets led by seven early in the fourth quarter, but they were outscored, 30-11, in the final nine minutes. They struggled to hold their lead in a Dec. 21 win at Chicago. On Dec. 23 against the Mavericks, the Nets squandered an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter. That was followed by Saturday's debacle against Washington.
It was so bad vs. Washington that Lionel Hollins gave them an "earful" on Sunday. Brook Lopez says it was deserved.
"It’s true. We just let go of the rope and it gets away from us," center Brook Lopez said Sunday after the Nets practiced before the start of an eight-game stretch against winning teams that begins Monday in Miami. "I don’t know if it’s lack of focus or effort or a combination of things. It’s something that needs to be addressed, obviously."
What's the issue? One is the lack of a go-to scorer late. Joe Johnson used to fill that role, but he's shooting poorly. So is play calling, Mazzeo argues. For the season, he notes the Nets rank 24th in points per play after timeouts in all situations, according to Synergy Sports Technology. Apparently, not a Hollins strength.
Hollins himself says it's "focus and concentration." Can't argue there either.
"It’s kind of everything," Lopez said. "When you’re turning the ball over like we did in the fourth quarter it leads to their fast breaks which makes it tough on our defense. Obviously we can’t score if we’re turning the ball over. It’s all symbiotic."
Bottom line? "We tend to be sagging a little bit — whether it's fatigue or whatever — we tend to slide down instead of rise up," Hollins said. "And we've got to continue to rise up and continue to fight."