clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Nets run out of steam vs. Chicago, lose 108-99

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The score was 80-73, in favor of the Nets, as the third quarter wound down. Brooklyn had kept Chicago at a modest distance for the majority of the game, and the few moments where they had slipped, it was often Kevin Durant who responded with a momentum-shifting bucket. The game smelled like a classic, hard-fought victory over a quality opponent that would, by no means, hand the game to Brooklyn.

There was just one problem: Kyrie Irving was nowhere to be found. With Durant scheduled for some early fourth-quarter rest, and Irving having only played 13 first-half minutes, he was going to have to step up to prevent a queasy, come-from-ahead loss. He did not. Chicago would close the game on a 35-19 run, which ending in a 108-99 defeat for Brooklyn.

Claiming a team lost solely because of one player is often untrue. It is here, too. Per usual, there were other issues. Despite scoring 32 points on 17 shots, Durant posted six turnovers although it felt like 15 of them. And thanks to, once again, issues on the defensive glass, Chicago finished with 14 more shot attempts than Brooklyn.

But player-wise, it’s hard to point to any other disappointing performances. Yuta Watanabe gave Brooklyn a real lift off the bench, again, flying around both sides of the court and making his threes, again. Edmund Sumner attacked with relentless aggression, and though his drives were often wild, it gave the Nets much-needed energy. Royce O’Neale had a career-high in points. Brooklyn shot a decent 38% from three.

There were a lot of positives, from Tuesday’s game. And that made the stench emanating from the Barclays Center after 48 minutes that much more vomit-inducing. But maybe I’m being too harsh over one loss. Maybe that stench was there long before tip-off, anyway.

A raindrop in a tsunami

It’s hard to get worked up over the loss, specifically. It’s been a long day. The off-court issues are bleeding onto the court, and the Nets are slipping and falling on the runoff. Why on today, of all days, does Kyrie seem disengaged from winning basketball after an All-NBA level start to the season?

The days are starting to run together, and the calendar just flipped to November. Disappointing loss with some bright moments, clouded by a whole lot of questions that have nothing to do with basketball. Nobody asked KD, post-game, about the bright spots he saw from role players like Sumner, Watanabe, and O’Neale tonight. Instead, he was asked versions of “How does it feel to lose?” and, “Is (fill-in-the-blank) distracting the team?” The same questions as the last few games, aside from a narrow win over one of the East’s worst teams. That leads to quotes like such:

There’s reasonable excuses for every loss so far this season, aside from the opener vs. the Pelicans. “The opponent was scorching hot”, or “foul trouble”, or “injuries”. Tonight it very well may have been that the Nets fell flat on the second night of a back-to-back, as NBA teams often do.

Jacque Vaughn, bless his soul, led off his postgame interview by answering a straightforward question (not asked quite like this): What the hell happened to a 12-point second-half lead. His answer, in full, was, “It’s the NBA, you play back-to-back games, it took a lot of effort out of us, vs. Indiana, and to ask our guys to play a significant amount of minutes again...They were a little fresher, so that’s a great challenge for us going forward.”

During his second answer, this time focused on Irving, he (correctly) remarked that “We need Kyrie at a premium level for us, every night. That’s just how we’re built.”

And, finally, his third answer started with, “The message I told the guys afterwards: no excuses.”

So, which is it? The word “accountability” was thrown around like a pack of gum in class at Barclays Center today, but there’s so much to account for that the Nets can’t even be held accountable for their losses.

Rapper Billy Woods once spit “My mother used to say ‘A bad penny finds its own way to hell.’” Right now, it’s a much more fitting saying for the Nets organization than “A bad penny always turns up.” Sure, Kyrie Irving is wont to turn up in all the ways you don’t want him to, off the court. Today, that extended to his on-court production. He wasn’t interested for much of Tuesday’s game, and that’s on him. But more than that, Brooklyn seems intent to find their own way to hell. Nets fans are already there.

Kyrie Irving sends ‘proxy’ to meeting with ADL

The Nets would like Kyrie Irving to meet with the Anti-Discrimination League, the organization known for fighting antisemitism. Such a meeting, perhaps with ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt and his friend Joe Tsai in attendance. That, along with an apology, might smooth the waters after now five days of controversy over Irving’s promotion of an antisemitic video and perhaps give everyone a restart.

But Brian Lewis reports that the meeting has yet to happen. There has been a preliminary get together that included those close to Irving — proxies.

While a source told The Post that Irving didn’t speak directly with the ADL, the Brooklyn All-Star did send a proxy to a meeting. While some could view that as progress towards a meeting of the minds, it remains to be seen if anything concrete comes of it.

“Since Friday, ADL leadership has had a series of conversations with Kyrie’s camp, the NBA, and the Brooklyn Nets. We have not yet spoken directly to Kyrie, but we hope to have an opportunity to do so soon,” an ADL spokesperson told The Post. “We were pleased that he deleted the problematic post but we believe it is crucial that Kyrie speak out clearly and quickly to condemn anti-Semitism.”

Although Lewis did not name the proxy, NetsDaily has been told that at least Irving’s agent who’s his stepmother and his father met with the group. There’s no indication that there will be other meetings including Irving.

“At a time when anti-Jewish incidents have reached historic levels, this situation has caused real pain in the Jewish community. Whether or not it was intentional, Kyrie lifted up a hateful film to his millions of followers,” the ADL spokesperson told The Post. “We hope a process of constructive dialogue and mutual healing will follow.

“We also deeply appreciate the efforts of Joe Tsai, (BSE CEO) Sam Zussman, Sean Marks, and the entire Brooklyn Nets organization in listening to our concerns and working with ADL on this matter. More than ever, we are committed to working with the Nets to make sure that Brooklyn and the NBA is no place for hate.”

Meanwhile, the NBPA, the players union, joined the Nets and the NBA Tuesday in issuing a statement on antisemitism and like the others made no mention of Irving.

“Anti-Semitism has no place in our society. The NBPA is focused on creating an environment where everyone is accepted. We are committed to helping players fully understand that certain words can lead to hateful ideologies being spread. We will continue to work on identifying and combating all hate speech wherever it arises.”

The statement came five days after the Irving tweet and Instagram postings.

Also Tuesday night, a video of Irving’s interaction with fans wearing “Fight Anti-Semiticism” t-shirts while sitting courtside has emerged. It suggests strongly that reports were wrong that Irving was sarcastic with the eight fans. Instead the relationship was congenial.

The original claim that Irving was sarcastic came from one member of the group in a talk with a Post reporter.

No farewell for Steve Nash

Sean Marks told the media pre-game that he did not inform any members of the team — specifically, Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving, about his and Joe Tsai’s decision to move on from Steve Nash. And indeed, Nets players say Nash’s departure didn’t even include a farewell meeting with his players.

KD told the media that he found out Nash was no longer head coach of the Nets after waking up from a nap. It was a shock, he said, but...

“I mean, let’s be real. We’re pros. We’re veterans. You know, we had a tough start and a rocky year last year, rocky summer. We knew that everybody was being evaluated,” Durant said postgame. “That’s just how it is in the league. So I liked working with Steve. I liked working with the coaching staff. It was a roller coaster the last few years. But you know, the core of it, basketball is something that we all love to do. So regardless of the coach, regardless of the circumstances, you still gotta come to work. So I enjoyed coming to work with Steve.

Durant, who in the process of his summer trade request, had asked Tsai to fire both Nash and Marks.

“I think everyone was surprised, so early in the year,” said Joe Harris. “You play so many games in the NBA season where even if you are struggling as a team or individually early, you know you have a lot of games to fight and claw your way back. Certainly, surprised given the timing of it.

“Everyone likes to throw around that the team [Nets] had a lot of talent. Shit, look across the NBA now and every team you play you can say the same thing now. A lot of talent. It’s a difficult task. First of all, Steve, it was not an easy job for him given how much turnover we had, there wasn’t much consistency from the moment he got here: COVID-related things, injuries, trades. A lot of coming and going and with his staff leaving too. His time here was short but there was a lot going on which made for a difficult job.”

Short rotation again

Steve Nash is gone, but Jacque Vaughn continued Nash’s short rotation. There were no minutes Tuesday for Cam Thomas, Kessler Edwards, Day’Ron Sharpe and, in a bit of a surprise, Markieff Morris.

The Long Island Nets open their season on Friday in College Park, Georgia, vs. the Skyhawks, Atlanta’s G League affiliate. Will Thomas or Edwards wind up on the plane to Georgia?

Nash’s counterparts defend him

Several NBA head coaches commiserated with Steve Nash after word of his firing — or whatever you call it — got out.

“I haven’t seen anybody have to deal with more than him in recent years as far as non-basketball stuff.” — Monty Williams of the Suns.

“Yeah, I just heard about it. I’m sorry to hear that,” Thibodeau said after practice in Tarrytown. “Steve, number one, he’s a great guy. I think he’s a heck of a coach. But it’s the unfortunate part of this business. I know he’ll do well. I just have a lot of respect for him. — Tom Thibodeau of the Knicks.

“You throw either of us in that situation we wouldn’t have done any better.“ — Steve Kerr of the Warriors speaking for himself and Erik Spoelstra of the Heat.

As SpongeBob might say...

Up Next

The best part of Brooklyn’s schedule is coming up. Two whole off-days! Then, on Friday, the Nets travel to Washington to take on the Wizards at 7:30 p.m. ET from Capital One Arena. Surely nothing newsworthy will happen in the next 72 hours or so before that one.

For a different perspective, head on over to Blog-a-Bull, our SB Nation sister site.