Rookies boost score in ugly loss to Thunder

netsblog_012609.jpgOKLAHOMA CITY — The end of the game doesn’t matter as much as the end of the trip. And it looked like the trip couldn’t end soon enough for the Nets.
They played as if they wanted to take the early bus to the airport.
There is no explanation and no excuse for it. Not after they fought San Antonio to the end and willed themselves to the victory at Memphis. But against the Thunder, the Nets gave little effort. That’s being kind. Just like the final score, 94-85 is kind.
The starters and veterans should thank rookies Brook Lopez, Ryan Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts, along with Trenton Hassell and Maurice Ager for making the score look that good.
It was a 30-point game with about 8:20 left and the Thunder collapsed while those five Nets played carefree basketball to get within seven with 1:03 left.
So praise was being heaped upon those guys for never giving up. But the real problem was what the starters and regulars did to get behind that big against the team that probably isn’t the worst in the league — Memphis is far worse. But the Thunder own the worst record at 10-35 now.
“I don’t know if we came in thinking about going home or where our minds where but it definitely wasn’t in the game,” Devin Harris said.
This was an embarrassing display from the Nets, who ended the four-game trip at 1-3.
They thought they turned the corner against the Spurs and felt good about themselves after the Memphis game. Then at the morning shoot, they were in good moods because the rookies sang Happy Birthday to Vince Carter. It also was Lawrence Frank’s fifth anniversary as head coach of the Nets.
The right gift for Frank would have been for the Nets to work hard, since that’s what he’s all about. Instead they hardly worked and were destroyed by a younger, more athletic, more aggressive group of players.
“We totally got out-worked,” Frank said. “There’s no excuse for lack of effort. We can’t disrespect the game in terms of not paying the price that it takes.”
But they did.
You throw away the fourth-quarter stats. The game was over in the third and at that point the Nets were minus-13 on the boards, minus-14 on foul shots attempted, minus-13 on free throws made and minus-28 on the scoreboard. They also missed 43-of-64 shots to that point.
The fourth period was nice for the young guys. It helps their confidence, but it’s all window dressing unless Frank plays those five guys again in meaningful moments — he won’t — or the starters learn from it. They should.
This was an unacceptable performance, which is why Frank was so unhappy afterward.
The Nets were down 30 to Boston twice, which was humiliating. But that was Boston. These are the Thunder. If you weren’t watching the game you couldn’t name their five starters. But those five starters outplayed the Nets’ first five and some of the Thunders’ subs showed more than some of the Nets.
“Our goal was to come out here and end the road trip on a positive note, try to tie things up,” Carter said after a 2-for-12 performance on his birthday. “But it didn’t work out that way. You always shake your head. It’s like, ‘Man, I wish we could have gotten it done.’ But we didn’t.”
No, they didn’t. But the trip ended. The Nets played as if they were looking forward to that.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for the Record (Bergen County, N.J.)

One comment


    They were sleeping last night! Too ugly to watch. Nobody liked to watch after the 3rd quarter.

    What is going on with NETS? This year, Thunder almost is the No. 1 team from the other side. Even NETs lost, they could not be 30 points behind.

    NETS need to learn from CELTICs. See how fast the ball is passed between the teammates on court in offense, and how the players’ feet move on court in defense.

    Do you think that NETs are still able to go to playoff in this season? What is your comments.

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